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Dawlish rail track update: workers plan an induced landslide operation

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: March 15, 2014


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Specialist fire crews are in Dawlish preparing to set off a landslide where workmen are repairing the rail network.

High volume water pumps and specialist operations crews from across the region are working with Network Rail between Teignmouth and Dawlish off Exeter Road.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are currently working with Network Rail contractors to initiate the controlled landslip of approximately 350,000 tonnes of soil and rock above the main line railway between Teignmouth and Dawlish.

Network Rail requested their assistance on Friday because during the previous 48hrs a large area of soil and rock directly above the main line was noticed to have slumped.

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Network Rail are now unable to work beneath this area due to the potential for catastrophic collapse posing a risk to workers and causing further damage to the railway infrastructure.

Fire Service specialist high volume pumping teams from Wellington, Sidmouth, and Station 60 SHQ supported by fire crews from Teignmouth and Newton Abbot have been working with Network Rail contractors and their geologist to pump water from the sea via a high volume pump 50 meters up the cliff face to the scene of operations above the landslip site.

Crews have also set into a hydrant in Teignmouth Road, Dawlish to provide further water.

The Incident Command Unit and supporting appliance from Totnes were mobilised to attend Teignmouth fire station where a command centre was set up to initiate the complex pumping operation.

Group commander Andy Rowse said that crews had been at the scene overnight and the cliff face had slumped further.

He said the plan was for the loose material to be brought down over the rail line then moved by Network Rail out to sea so the line could be reinstated. It was still hoped the line could re-open on April 4.

The high volume water pump was loaded onto a Network Rail rolling stock at Dawlish Railway Station and taken along the railway line to the scene of operations.

Fire crews from Teignmouth, Middlemoor and Dawlish have been on site throughout the night pumping water into the fracture line.

A meeting was taking place on site on Saturday morning between the Fire Service, Network Rail and the geologist to assess any movement in the landslip site overnight and consider the pumping strategy for the next 24hrs.

The Fire Service say they appreciate the patience and understanding from the public with the impact this is having on traffic flow along Teignmouth Road and would urge drivers to negotiate the hose ramps slowly to avoid causing damage to vehicles and the hose.

This incident has potential to last up to seven days.

A spokesman for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said crews began assembling at 2.30pm on Friday.

The plan is to pump sea water at a high volume up the cliff and let it pour down again into area where the ground has become a hazard to workmen.

The Fire Service say the work could take up to seven days.

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  • Dave123Cook  |  March 15 2014, 12:09PM

    Knowing that bit of cliff is unstable, bringing it down whilst the line is shut anyway makes good sense, nobody wants the line to re-open and then be closed a couple of weeks later due to this landslip which is waiting to happen. Closing the line now at Newton Abbot for the drainage work on the culvert is also a good idea, makes sense to close the line to Torquay and Plymouth now whilst there are no trains to Exeter anyway, re-scheduling that work for now shows there are some smart thinking people in Network Rail and Galliford Try who have got together here.

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