The plans would see the 1.8 km track realign by moving it further out to sea and onto the beach to create space to stabilize the dangerous cliffs and protect the railroad for future generations.
A realigned coastal path would also be built, along with a new path to land and an accessible walkway across the railroad tracks, but would have seen part of the beach disappear.
While 73% of people agreed that this stretch of railroad needed to be more resilient, only 41% of people agreed with Network’s Rails initial proposals for better resilience, 51% disagreed / strongly disagreed and 8% undecided.
Today, Network Rail announced that it would write to 16,000 households in the consultation scope, with a summary of the results, and refine their proposals after analyzing the 1,605 responses.
No decision has yet been made on how the plans will be refined, but it is hoped that incursions and beach loss can be minimized.
Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Director for the Western Route, said: “We would like to thank everyone who responded – we have read and reviewed every comment. We have received positive and thoughtful feedback that can positively influence our plans, and it is important that we put this important plan in place.
“As a result of the feedback, we are now refining the plans even further with a view to then sharing these revisions with the public next year. We will now spend the next few months working on this detail, once we have our plans refined, we will schedule another round of public consultations in 2021.
“This means that we will not be seeking an order from the Transport and Public Works Act to obtain consent for the project this year, as we previously indicated in the first communications. We will not take this step until we have completed this work and this commitment. “
Dean Shaw, Senior Director of Communications for Network Rail, added: “We will go and revamp the plans for the section between Parson’s Tunnel and Teignmouth and refine them with public opinion. It is right that we review the plans and refine.
“There have been a lot of good, thoughtful comments and it’s only fitting that we review them, that we reflect them properly. They were going to save as much beach, around the construction period, if there was to be a cycle path, so only correctly we look at them and see what we can implement.
The original proposals would have seen the existing rail alignment both at the Parsons Tunnel and at the Teignmouth end of this stretch of railway to be retained and protected by rockfall shelters, surfacing and a new dike more high, similar to the one currently under construction at Dawlish.
A realigned coastal path, which is 1m wider and safer than the current southwest coast path as it will have edge protection, will also be built with the new coastal path extending no further than the current extent of Sprey Point.
It would have meant the loss of part of the beach, however, and thousands of residents earlier this year had formed a human chain to protest the loss of the equipment.
Key findings from the 2020 consultation include:
· 73 percent of people agreed / strongly agreed that this section of railroad needs to be more resilient, 13 percent disagree / strongly disagree and 14 percent undecided.
· 41 percent of people agree / strongly agree with Network’s Rails’ proposals for better resilience, 51 percent disagree / strongly disagree and 8 percent undecided.
More than half (54%) of people supported or strongly supported the creation of a new coastal path and equipment
The 2020 consultation saw an increase of over 1,200 participants and 1,100 responses from the events of 2019
Network Rail now plans to refine the proposals after analyzing the 1,605 responses from the second round. The consultation asked people to provide additional feedback on the plans and / or to comment on how they could be improved.