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Dawlish Rail Problems? Blame It On Hitler!

February 14, 2014

By Paul Homewood





As most of us will know by now, the railway line at Dawlish in Devon has been damaged in the recent storms.


Two years ago, a local MP requested that the line be diverted away from this vulnerable section of coast, but Network Rail, the quango set up to manage the track infrastructure, said the line in Dawlish was resilient to adverse weather.

The interesting thing, though, is that plans were well advanced in the 1930’s to exactly the same thing, and for the same reasons. The project was only halted by the outbreak of war.


From The Herald, Dec 2012:


A transport expert is calling for work to start on Westcountry rail links that were scuppered by Hitler 73 years ago.

After train services to London were twice cut in the past week, Neill Mitchell is urging the Government to look again at plans for a new railway line avoiding Dawlish, which were drawn up before the Second World War.

"It is simply not acceptable for the 21st century business, freight, tourism and leisure rail service in the peninsula to remain dependent on a solitary ‘fair weather railway’," he said.

The rail line between Exeter and Newton Abbot was shut this week after a major landslip at Teignmouth followed by 14 smaller landslips on the route.

But the route’s weakest point, and the cause of regular disruption, is the stretch along the sea wall at Dawlish.

Mr Mitchell said the problem was made more pressing now that Plymouth and its hinterland, with a combined population of about 400,000, had lost its direct air link to the capital.

He is calling for the Government to start by "drawing a line on the map" for a line which avoids the sea wall at Dawlish.

Plans for a "Dawlish Avoiding Line" were put forward by the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1935 at a time when another Conservative-dominated coalition National Government was wrestling with the impact of global economic recession.

Mr Mitchell said GWR had planned a new line from Dawlish Warren to Newton Abbot "in minute detail, down to the level of drainage culverts and pedestrian accesses".

In 1936 Parliament approved a railway almost nine miles long from Newton Abbot, deviating near the rail bridge over the Hackney Canal Channel, and rejoining the main line north of Dawlish Warren station, alongside the River Exe Estuary.

A second Act in 1937 extended the route further northeast, past Kenton and Powderham, to Exminster, adding just over seven miles.

Surveying began early in 1939, and work was intended to be complete by January 1941. But in September 1939 Hitler invaded Poland and war broke out.



It seems nothing much changes!

One Comment
  1. Brian H permalink
    February 23, 2014 4:38 am

    Rail on, rail off. Railing will do no good! >:)

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