Walking jack-up barge used for Dawlish railway repairs10 November 2020

Network Rail has started work on the second section of a new, bigger sea wall at Dawlish, Devon, to protect the Great Western Railway line and town from rising sea levels, and extreme weather. A section of the track was washed out in February 2014.

A major aspect of this work involves the use of an innovative eight-legged, self-contained walking jack-up barge, known as a ‘Wavewalker’. The ‘Wavewalker’ is only one of its kind in Europe and it will be the first time this type of barge has been used to maintain the UK rail network.

This innovative piece of equipment will be used by contractors BAM Nuttall to safely access the sea face of the railway embankment along Marine Parade and help deliver the piling at the sea wall. The ‘Wavewalker’ benefits from being able to operate across high tidal ranges that particularly impact the south Devon coastline, that would otherwise restrict the number of hours it is possible to safely work on the sea wall.

WaveWalker 1 was designed, built and is owned by WaveWalker BV, a joint venture between engineering companies Fugro, based in the UK, and Van Oord in The Netherlands. Van Oord supplies and operates walking jack-ups that provide flexible, efficient resources for marine industry projects in difficult environments, such as surf and intertidal zones.

Construction of this next section of the £80 million upgrade will take around two years to complete and follows years of detailed studies, designs and joint working between world-leading marine, coastal and railway engineering experts.

The first part, from Dawlish station to the Coastguard breakwater east of the station, is expected to be completed in late 2021.The final part between the station and the Colonnade breakwater, which will link up the new wall at Marine Parade, will start to be built shortly after.

Operations Engineer

Related Companies
Fugro Survey Ltd
Van Oord

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