Vulnerable UK railway artery upgraded to prevent landslides

The vital rail artery connecting Cornwall and Devon in the south of England will be upgraded. A section of the railway line in south Devon is bordered by steep cliffs on one side and the sea on the other, making it vulnerable to bad weather conditions.

The vulnerable section of railway was closed for six weeks following a landslide in 2014 and it needs to be better protected from cliff falls, landslides and damage caused during extreme weather. National railway company Network Rail has opened a public consultation for local communities across the south west to help shape the final design of the scheme. Updated proposals have today (20 January) been published for a series of potential changes.

The vital rail artery is the only line which connects Cornwall and Devon with the rest of the country . “The railway is a vital artery to the South West, which communities, businesses and visitors to the region depend on for connecting with the rest of the UK. We welcome views on our updated proposals before we apply for consent to undertake the work”, commented Mike Gallop, route director for Network Rail’s Western route.


The plans would see the railway realigned away from hazardous cliffs. The updated design means that most of the beach is retained as it only moves the railway away from the most potentially hazardous areas of the cliffs and keeps the existing railway alignment at both Parsons Tunnel and at Teignmouth end of this stretch of railway.

Views are being sought from residents, communities, businesses and rail users across the south west as part of a second round of public consultation which runs for six weeks until 1 March as Network Rail looks to protect a 1.8km stretch of railway between Parsons Tunnel, near Holcombe, and Teignmouth.


A realigned coastal footpath, which is 1m wider and safer than the current South West Coast Path, as it will have edge protection, will also be built with the new coastal path not extending any further out than the current extent of Sprey Point.

Further, a landward footpath will also be created with the new enhanced coastal path with more than 1km of new path with full coastal views will be added to the landward side of the railway between Holcombe and Sprey Point, where users can cross over the railway on a new, accessible footbridge.

Residents are invited to provide feedback on the proposals to help finalise the designs. The detailed proposals are available here.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.