BAM celebrates completion of Dawlish sea wall at official opening ceremony

BAM joined Network Rail, the Secretary of State for Transport, The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, the local council and local school pupils in Dawlish, Devon, to mark the completion and official opening of the £80m Dawlish sea wall.

The sea wall, which is now complete, will protect the south west railway - a vital link for communities and businesses in 50 towns and cities – for generations to come. The railway line to the south west was cut off in 2014 following a severe storm, costing the economy millions, and isolating communities. 

The completion ceremony in Dawlish marked the official opening of the new sea wall. Pupils from Westcliff Primary Academy helped unveil the plaque and read a poem about how the sea wall will protect the railway from the impacts of climate change.

The wall, which stands eight metres high and 775 metres long, will protect the railway from extreme weather for generations to come. The structure acts as a barrier to stop waves flooding the track or causing damage to infrastructure. The wall is designed to reflect waves back into the sea, even in the face of climate change and rising sea levels, helping to prevent the railway from closing during stormy weather, as well as protecting the town of Dawlish.

The completion of this remarkable engineering feat has been made possible through the collaboration between BAM, Network Rail and the local community. During the build more than £15m has been invested in the local economy, using local labour, materials and accommodation.

Dawlish Sea wall
Alan Cox

Alan Cox, BAM managing director, Regions

“BAM and Network Rail have turned adversity into triumph at Dawlish through collaboration and resilience. Our dedicated team showcased ingenuity, overcoming physical challenges with innovative solutions. 

“Beyond completing the infrastructure project, we are proud of our team's problem-solving skills and their commitment to open communication. We built strong bonds with the local community, keeping them informed and engaged throughout the process.

“Looking back, this project will forever be a source of immense pride for our team. Our legacy in Dawlish exemplifies determination and collaboration, leaving a lasting impact on the town, Great Western Railway, and its passengers for generations.”

Michelle Handforth, regional managing director of Network Rail’s Wales and Western region, said: “I’m delighted that we could be joined by the Secretary of State for Transport to mark the official opening of the sea wall in Dawlish.

“The line is a vital transport link for the south west, something that was starkly highlighted when sections of the railway were washed away and flooded during an intense storm in 2014.

“Enhancing the resilience of this coastal stretch of line is vitally important for the region, especially given the challenges posed by climate change and the increasing frequency of extreme weather.

“Working with world-leading engineers and with funding from the Government, we’ve been able to protect the railway line and town of Dawlish for generations to come.

“I’d particularly like to thank the Dawlish community for their patience and support while the construction took place close to their homes and businesses over three-and-half years.”

Dawlish - BAM