The plans, developed with consulting engineers Arup, would see the construction of a new, higher sea wall at Dawlish, where the line was washed away by waves in storms in 2014.
Network Rail said that the new sea wall would provide far more protection from waves and extreme weather and is future-proofed to protect the railway and the town, taking into account predicted rising sea levels. The town will also get a wider, safer promenade that retains the views of the coast.
Work also started in November 2018 to repair the breakwaters that protect the coast from the elements.
Mark Langman, Network Rail’s Western route managing director, said: “The Department for Transport and Network Rail have been working tirelessly to determine what needs to be done in order to protect this vital transport artery for Devon and Cornwall.
“From blank page studies that looked at all options we’ve identified this as the most feasible rail route for Devon and Cornwall and there are areas that specifically need our attention.
“Improving the resilience of the sea wall at Dawlish is one of the most immediate and easiest areas we can begin work on and we’ve now submitted detailed plans to Teignbridge District Council. These plans are now subject to the views of the council, their residents and a final decision from government.
“In parallel we continue to work on possible solutions at Holcombe and Parsons Tunnel and will be sharing these with the community later this year.”
Pictured below is Network Rail's orange army in action after the 2014 storms washed the line away. The 300-strong team got the line back open again in just eight weeks, building a temporary sea wall from shipping containers.
And here is what they were fixing...