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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2006, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
'No need' to re-route rail line
Railway lines on Dawlish seafront
Weather has caused problems on the line in recent years
The South West's main rail line will not be re-routed in the immediate future despite concerns over sea wall defences, the rail minister has said.

Derek Twigg was responding to a Commons debate on Tuesday about the long-term viability of the line at Dawlish, which is just a few feet from the sea.

Sea defences were not due to fail in the "foreseeable future", he said.

Fears about global warming causing rising sea levels have prompted calls for the line in Devon to be re-routed.

In the past three years, bad storm surges caused serious damage to the line, part of the main route to Plymouth and Cornwall.

'Increased car use'

Campaigners, including climatologists and politicians, have urged ministers to consider alternatives.

Totnes Conservative MP Anthony Steen has called for a new, inland, route built around Dawlish.

The Commons debate was opened by Richard Younger-Ross, Liberal Democrat MP for Teignbridge, who said a re-routing would close four stations in his constituency and lead to 750,000 extra car journeys.

The rail minister told MPs he was aware of widespread concerns about the line but the government "did not see a significant problem" in the immediate future.

Network Rail had commissioned research into the likely longer-term effects but did not believe it was necessary to re-route the line, he said.

Mr Twigg said the government was "mindful" about the vulnerability of the line and would work closely with Network Rail on mitigating risks.


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