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Devon rail line


Securing the future of Devon rail line


A project designed to secure the future of the Exeter and Newton Abbot railway line has reached an important milestone, as Network Rail employs an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to help improve the area’s resilience.

Following a bout of extreme weather in 2014, which caused part of the railway line at Dawlish to collapse into the sea, the team began working with local residents on a study to look at the impact coastal flooding, erosion and cliff instability has on the Great Western route. The aim of this study is to provide a range of options which can help limit the effects these conditions will have moving forward.

The study has pinpointed two areas for resilience work – the cliffs at Teignmouth and the Dawlish sea wall. To help inform the options available to improve these areas, the team is now employing the services of a UAV to get a better understanding of the work ahead.

The UAV not only enables the team to gather close-up footage in a much quicker timescale than traditional methods allow, but it is much safer and much less intrusive for those living within the local community.

Joanna Grew, Network Rail’s commercial scheme sponsor for the project, said:

“Over the next few weeks residents are likely to see a lot of activity in the Dawlish and Teignmouth areas as we progress our plans to secure the future of this historic and important part of the Great Western route.

“Securing the future of this line is extremely important to us, which is why we are using the latest technology to build up the most accurate picture of the landscape, how it is likely to change, and what we can do to improve its resilience.

“I’d like to thank the local community in advance for their patience and understanding while we complete this vital work that will inform our study, and for the material they provided which proved to be invaluable in helping us gain a greater understanding of the area.”

To create an even better understanding of the options available, the team is currently in the process of taking soil and rock samples to establish the make-up of the cliffs. This will allow Network Rail to draw up detailed engineering designs tailored to each cliff area.

For more information about the project, please visit:


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