Lab testing for Dawlish sea wall

Overtopping at Dawlish Warren Overtopping at Dawlish Warren
Industry Database

Government funding has been announced to upgrade the sea wall at Dawlish, Devon, UK to provide better protection for the railway and residents.

Arup, who are designing the new sea wall, have commissioned HR Wallingford to conduct physical modelling tests in the laboratory to verify the performance of the proposed design.

Arup have been contracted to design the seawall along the Marine Parade section between Dawlish Station and Kennaway Tunnel in Devon.  Along this section, wave overtopping during storms sprays passing trains, and previously, has also washed away ballast from beneath the track.

The works for Marine Parade will see the height of the sea wall increased by 2.5 metres and include a wave parapet. This will reduce the impact of the waves, reducing the volume of overtopping water and the likelihood of the line being closed during adverse weather. The new seawall will also have more robust foundations to secure the underlying structure.

Eunice Silva, Engineer in HR Wallingford’s Coastal Structures Group, said: “Using the results from Arup’s overtopping study, we will be carrying out a whole series of 2D tests over two months in a 40m long wave flume. This will involve constructing the bathymetry, calibrating the different sea states for the different bed levels, building a scaled model of the sea wall design, and then carrying out tests for different crest level and storm conditions.”

James Turley, Associate, Arup, said: “Undertaking these laboratory tests is a cost-effective way to allow us to test many different combinations of the design elements under a variety of predicted wave conditions.  We can then use the results to optimise the design to suit the conditions it will be exposed to on this particular stretch of coastline at Dawlish, providing better protection for the railway line and residents.”

HR Wallingford’s laboratory testing is due to be concluded by the end of April, with work on the new sea wall expected to start in spring 2019 and to be completed by 2021.

By Jake Frith

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