On 4th February 2014 storm damage caused an 80m long breach in the railway line near Dawlish Station. As the on-call engineer for Network Rail Wales and West, Tony Gee was called out to site to assess the damage. We worked collaboratively with Network Rail and the three main contractors – BAM Nuttall, Amco Rail, and Dyer and Butler for the repairs to the main breach, retained sea wall and cliffs along the 6.4km stretch of exposed coastline.
Initially the sea cliffs between Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth had fared better than the sea wall, apart from some minor slips. However, a second storm struck on the 14th of February causing additional larger cliff slips.
The cliff failure was estimated at 25,000 tonnes of material precariously held up at mid-slope. To make it safe to open the railway, an operation began to bring the slipped mass down in a controlled manner using water inundation with the help of the local special operations fire brigade and three water monitors to erode the material. A combination of long reach excavators at track level and slope-climbing ‘Spider-Rigs’ on the cliff face worked in tandem with the water application to remove the majority of this material.
Tony Gee supervised the roped access teams who carried out a mass hand-scaling/rock-combing of the slope face to remove boulders and suspect areas of rock, as well as to reinstate/refurbish the damaged catch fence at the toe.
Works are on-going at Woodlands to stabilise the cliff face in a staged remediation programme of work. There are on-going rock falls from the lower rock face which are being contained by the old catch fence and Amco are undertaking daily clear-out/maintenance with Tony Gee providing fulltime engineering support and daily inspections. Tony Gee is the permanent works designer, and the first stage of remediation is well underway. This is focusing on the more active areas lower sections of the slope, and this involves rock-combing, soil nailing and high tensile netting being installed by CAN Geotechnical.
Read more about Tony Gee’s involvement in the Dawlish Emergency Works.