Dawlish Rail Recovery

The storm damaged coastal railway line that connects south west England to the rest of the UK was re-opened ahead of schedule thanks to top level service from Hanson staff from Devon to Derbyshire.

A 70-metre stretch of the line, which runs along the sea wall at Dawlish in Devon, was wrecked in early February when massive waves left the tracks suspended in mid-air. Ten days later, when new storms caused further damage, Network Rail said the route would remain closed until at least the middle of April.

However, with the support of contractors and suppliers working around the clock, Network Rail had trains running again two weeks ahead of schedule.

“It was a very demanding job which involved working nights and weekends and having to produce material at very short notice,” said Chris Mewse, district operations manager for the concrete business.

“We supplied around 1,500 cubic metres of concrete, which had to be off-loaded on the road above the railway line then pumped 200 metres to the site. We also had to be very flexible – and patient – as some deliveries were cancelled at short notice.”

Earlier, the floors and precast works at Somercotes in Derbyshire, part of the design solutions business, had provided 440 tonnes of heavy-duty bespoke concrete retaining walls to repair the sea wall along which the railway line runs. A total of 96 panels were supplied, each weighing over four tonnes.

Just days after the first storm, technical sales manager Martin Bolton was invited to an emergency meeting with Network Rail’s main contractors Amalgamated Construction (AMCO) to discuss the use of bespoke precast panels to repair the sea wall. Design manager David Chamberlain then worked through the night on the designs and after approval from the client handed the reins to production manager Joe Sheehy to get the panels manufactured and delivered.

Design solutions commercial director Mark Baillie said: “On these repairs speed is everything as it usually involves track closures. We already had a good relationship with AMCO as we had done a similar emergency job for them last year when we supplied 805 tonnes of large bespoke retaining walls to hold back a landslip near Hatfield Colliery at Doncaster and allow the reinstatement of the Doncaster to Scunthorpe railway line.

“To go from the initial meeting to production of a heavily engineered bespoke product in four days was a fantastic achievement. The Somercotes teams produced a design that allowed our in-house joiners to convert existing moulds rather than wait for new ones to be manufactured.

“Our commercial staff then liaised with other customers to allow us to clear the works for production of the units. It was a real team effort.”

 Once the retaining walls were in place, deliveries of concrete in a fleet of six mixer trucks began. Most of the material was batched at the Exeter plant under the watchful eye of supervisors Keith Edwards and Simon Ilbrey. Andy Bradnam covered the night shift, while the neighbouring Newton Abbot plant run by Andy Cheeseman and James Loftus provided back-up deliveries at weekends.

“It’s involved a lot of unsocial out of hours working but everyone has pulled together,” said Chris Mewse. “The concrete staff have been brilliant and aggregates unit manager Dave Jenkins and his team did a great job ensuring a steady supply of Whatley limestone from the rail head at Riverside in Exeter and sand from our Whiteball quarry in Somerset.”

Cement deliveries were co-ordinated by bulk cement sales manager John Doolan. The material was manufactured at Ribblesdale works in Lancashire and delivered by tanker to Devon from the new rail terminal at Avonmouth.

James Moorhouse, south west area general manager for concrete, praised the efforts of all involved. “It was a great example of everyone working together, from national accounts to the local drivers, to deliver the right solution for the customer,” he said.

Dawlish Rail recovery

  • 2014


Filip Kåkneryd

Teknisk säljare

Heidelberg Materials Betong Sverige AB Regelgatan 7
589 41 Linköping


EX7 Dawlish (United Kingdom)