The resilience of the railway is vital and so is the environment, economy and wellbeing of us all

The resilience of the railway is vital, and so is the environment, the economy and the wellbeing of the community. Network Rail's proposal threatens far more than just the beach yet could be turned into a great asset for the area.



The construction of this scheme will leave a colossal carbon footprint and will destroy sensitive marine habitats.


The radical realignment of the sea wall could adversely affect tidal flows and dynamic sand movement, resulting in reduced flood resilience and changes to the coastline. The Environmental Impact Assessment will not be available until seven months AFTER the public consultation, and Network Rail are withholding preliminary environmental assessment data.




The construction period is estimated to last at least eight years.


The plans have been designed so that Network Rail can avoid paying fines for disruption to rail timetables. Teignmouth’s economy depends on its beaches and coveted Blue Flag bathing water quality. Blighted by noise and pollution over these eight plus years, local businesses will pay the price of Network Rail's plans for many years after the concrete mixers depart.




This wild stretch of beach is the most powerful prescription, freely available, for the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the community.


Network Rail’s ugly and incongruous design annihilates the railway heritage and the unique character of this beach, which draws visitors from near and far.

Listen to the interview with Alice Bird on Exmouth Radio: 

Sunday Mornings with Howard James on 2nd February 2020

See the Human Chain photos, video and press - a visual representation of the proposed sea wall >> 

The beautiful beach and Isambard Kingdom Brunel's historic sea wall between Teignmouth and Holcombe will be gone forever under Network Rail's current proposal.


We are encouraging Network Rail to consider environmentally sympathetic alternatives that will preserve the beach, the sea wall and the vital railway link.

We are currently consulting with Network Rail, engineers, geologists, university professors and others who can help find a plan that will work with the environment, not against it. We need your help too - here's how to help save the beach

We are encouraging Network Rail to consider alternatives - which will allow the beach and the railway to exist in harmony.

Alice Bird's inverview on Exmouth FM radio
00:00 / 14:16

Teignmouth and Holcombe Beach now

Alice Bird.jpg

Network Rail's current plan



Teignbridge District Council - report on Network Rail showing they will become a statutory objector - download

Response from the Devon Wildlife Trust - statutory objector -  download

Statement from Teignmouth Town Council - download 

Geotechnical comment on proposals - letter to Network Rail >>

An open letter from Dr Peter Arnold & Dr J Griffiths outlining why their current proposal can't be supported, how information they have given to the public can be seen as misleading and how it is unclear why any further action is needed at all at this point in time.   

"As geotechnical experts in cliff stability and stabilisation, we would like to provide our comments on the proposed South West Resilience Programme, as it affects the cliff section between Parsons Tunnel and Teignmouth.

While we accept that improvements to the railway are likely to be required due to climate change and sea level rise, our main concern is that the current proposals for the cliff stabilisation works are not appropriate.  Read more  >>


An alternative proposal for the railway from Parson’s Tunnel to Teignmouth by Peter Clayborough, Formally Divisional Director with international construction consultants Currie & Brown - download

An alternative proposal for the railway at Teignmouth and Holcombe beach, by engineer D Sharland MICE C. Eng. B.Sc(Hon) download

A personal review of Network Rail's proposals for the realignment of the Permanent Way at Teignmouth and Holcombe beach, by engineer, Andrew Burgess download

Environmental critique of Network Rail Parsons Tunnel to Teignmouth Proposal download

We are asking Network Rail to consider the environment and heritage by conserving, not destroying 1.9km/1.06 miles of beach from East Cliff in Teignmouth all the way down to the Parson's Tunnel at Holcombe. 

Following storm damage in 2014, Network Rail are currently working on a resilience programme to upgrade the London to Penzance railway between Exeter and Newton Abbot.

In 2018 they hosted public forums and presented plans to build a new line 30 -40 metres (or more) out to sea between Teignmouth's East Cliff Cafe and Parson's tunnel - a scheme which would cover over 1.9km of beach in concrete.

In February 2019, Network Rail advised that their current proposal between Parson's Tunnel and Teignmouth is, "to deliver a new railway alignment involving a new sea wall beyond the footprint of the existing."


Teignmouth Beach, with it's open sea aspect framed by the towering red Devon cliffs, is possibly the most visually outstanding part of any journey on the iconic train route, and has been a cherished destination for both locals and visitors for many generations.


Whilst it is agreed that the railway must be maintained and protected, we believe that this must not be to the detriment of this special and unique location. We encourage Network Rail to use their best endeavours and ensure that any development they undertake specifically maintains or enhances the visual and environmental merits of Holcombe and Teignmouth Beach.

We cannot fall into the trap of thinking 'RAILWAY OR BEACH?' - with the right plan, we can have both 

There are many ways you can help - write letters and emails, sign the petition, fill in our survey and let us know how you feel

See how you can help >>



Network Rail presentation to Residents Association


Network Rail West-of-Exeter Route Resilience Study


Network Rail Resilience Study and options considered


Network Rail Phase 2 Options Report


Peninsula Rail Taskforce - November 2016 report


Railfuture - December 2016 issue


Network Rail Phase 3 report on Preferred Option



Saving the beach strategy - October 2019


Group aims – Stewardship of ongoing harmony between the Railway and the Environment

The two can, and should, continue to exist together. The debate is often polarised into a beach vs railway choice, which is a diversion.


Offer alternative strategies – another often heard response is, “Well what’s your alternative then?”. 

  1. Network Rail assert that the main threat is from the cliffs, and not the sea on the stretch between East Cliff and Parson's Tunnel. It is worth noting that 5 years have passed since they blasted thousands of gallons of high pressure water at the cliffs, and that in that time the monitors which were installed on the cliff face have not recorded any significant movement. Rather than rushing ahead with an expensive, elaborate and ill-conceived scheme, they should now take time out and pause before committing to any further action.

  2. The 2014 slip followed years of reduced maintenance expenditure on the cliffs and sea wall. Maintenance remains under-resourced, illustrated by visible large cracks in the walls, which will put extra pressure on Isambard Brunel's structure in the event of storms, cold weather and frosts. Re-introducing regular, effective maintenance is a simple, cost effective way of ensuring the railway and sea wall remain safe, as designed.

  3. Address drainage from properties at the top of the cliff. Residents have spoken of springs rising at different points, although nobody has ever enquired about the existence of these. What is the extent of use of soakaways attached to properties, and could these be replaced by more controlled drainage.

This group requests that details and costings of alternative schemes be made public, together with appropriate cost benefit analysis, utilising environmental full cost accounting in order to enable proper evaluation. 

Specific consequences of Network Rail plans as disclosed to date:

  1. No Environmental Impact Assessment has been released to date. The intertidal foreshore at Holcombe is known to be a habitat for a number of endangered species, eg the honeycomb worm reefs and sea horse breeding grounds.

  2. Loss of heritage assets, including the wall itself, Sprey Point breakwaters and Teignmouth letters, Lime Kiln and building west of Sprey Point, Parsons Tunnel Pill Box and Smugglers Lane viaduct. Once these are gone they will be lost forever. In March 2018, Network Rail obtained a certificate of Immunity from listing for all these heritage features. There was no public consultation, and Teignbridge Council failed to raise any objection. The immunity lasts for 5 years.

  3. The loss of beach will be permanent. 

Contact committee members >>