Published on : Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Network Rail engineers were today joined by Dover MP Charlie Elphicke and members of the Channel Swimming Association to officially open the bridge and mark the completion of a mammoth project to rebuild the sea wall protecting the railway between Dover and Folkestone.
Repairs began in January 2016, when the first of 90,000 tonnes of granite rock armour was delivered to site. Since then, Network Rail engineers have been working to place the rock armour along a 375m stretch of the wall and put the new footbridge in place across the railway and down to the beach.
The railway and sea wall itself were opened in September 2016.
Network Rail’s director of route asset management, Alan Ross, said: “We knew from the minute we arrived in Dover on Boxing Day 2015 that this was going to be a huge job. We not only had to rebuild and protect the railway between Dover and Folkestone, but we also had to protect the cliff itself.
“It’s great news for the local community that the beach is back open and I’d like to thank them for their support and understanding while we carried out our work. I’ve never known a project where everyone in the area has helped and supported us in the way that Dover did, from MP Charlie Elphicke to Dover District Council and businesses and people in the town.
“We all felt responsible for making this project as good as it could be and finally we can say we’ve achieved our aim and the beach is back open.”
Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke, who chaired the sea wall repair task force after the storm of Christmas 2015, said: “Our fight to fix the sea wall just goes to show what can be achieved if people work together and get on with the job. Dedicated workers from Network Rail and Costain grafted round the clock – and the rail line was back on track three months ahead of schedule.
“It’s fantastic to see the new footbridge and the historic Shakespeare Beach reopen today. I’m delighted our incredible Channel swimmers have now got their beach back.”
Michael Read, who is president of the Channel Swimming Association and has swum the Channel 33 times, said: “I’m delighted that the beach is back because it was always the traditional starting point for swims and Channel swimmers have such an affection for it. Over the years we have also been able to use Samphire Hoe and now the pilots can choose a beach depending on the tides and how they will affect the swimmer.