Costain completes Dover sea wall repairs three months early

Costain and Network Rail have completed £40m-worth of repairs to the railway at Dover three months ahead of schedule.

The line reopened this week

The line between Dover and Folkestone reopened on Monday 5th September after a nine-month project to repair the line. It had been expected to take all year and not open until Christmas.

The sea wall at Dover and 250 metres of track between Dover Priory and Folkestone collapsed on Christmas Eve 2015. Storms lowered the level of Shakespeare Beach in Dover by almost two metres.  The foot of the sea wall was exposed to the full force of the sea, leading to sink holes appearing in the railway above and damage to the sea wall and its foundations.

The extent of the damage meant reconstruction was on a much wider scale than the repairs undertaken by Network Rail at Dawlish in south Devon after storm damage in 2014, encompassing a longer section of railway, a very different type of failure, twice the tide heights and a much higher wall (10 metres).

Incorporating designs from Tony Gee, the project has involved:

  • Building a new 235 metre-long viaduct supported by more than 130 concrete columns
  • More than 200 people working 24 hours a day, seven days week
  • More than 147,000 hours of work being spent on the project in total
  • Using over 880 tonnes of reinforcing steel and enough concrete to fill an Olympic swimming pool more than 2.5 times over
  • Creating a defence for the sea wall using more than 90,000 tonnes of rock.

Alan Ross, director of route asset management, Network Rail, said: “The work being completed three months ahead of schedule is a true reflection of the teamwork and commitment of everyone who has worked on the project.

“On Christmas Eve last year, our teams were faced with a huge challenge that would normally take two years to fix. In just nine months, we have been able to return the railway to the passengers of Dover and Folkestone and this I am incredibly proud of.

“I would like to offer my gratitude and appreciation to all those who have played a part in making this possible, and I would like to thank the passengers for bearing with us and understanding while we have been working to fix the line here at Dover.”

Steve Kilby, Network Rail senior programme manager, added: “I’m very proud to stand here and see trains running to Folkestone again. This has been the number one job in my career, primarily because of the people – this has been the most collaborative project I’ve ever worked on. The main lesson I’ve learned is that anything can be done if people have the will and can work together towards it.”