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Restored rural railway takes top honours at South West regional awards

23 November 2022

The annual awards recognise achievement among regional engineers and project teams.

Restored rural railway takes top honours at South West regional awards
The Dartmoor Line was also recognised for outstanding community engagement.

The Dartmoor Line, between Okehampton and Exeter in Devon, celebrated double success at the 2022 ICE South West Civil Engineering Awards.

The £40.5m scheme to reconnect communities by restoring regular trains services took home the Showcase and Community Awards.

Ten projects and two individual accolades were presented at the regional awards, sponsored by Kier BAM.

The awards were presented at a gala ceremony in Bristol on 22 November in front of a 300-strong audience from the region’s engineering and infrastructure sector.

The Dartmoor Line: when civil engineers and communities work together

The Dartmoor Line is the first to be reinstated under the Department for Transport’s Restoring your Railway initiative.

Completed in just nine months during the COVID-19 pandemic, the project involved laying 11 miles of track, replacing 24,000 concrete sleepers, and installing nearly 29,000 tonnes of ballast.

The Dartmoor Line is also highlighted as a good example of investment in low-carbon infrastructure in a new report by the ICE on the financing of green infrastructure projects.

This partnership project between Network Rail, Great Western Railway (GWR) and Devon County Council was also recognised for outstanding community engagement and the benefits it brings to rural communities in Dartmoor.

Sally Walters, chair of judges, said the project is an example of what can be achieved when civil engineers work with communities.

Walters said: “The Dartmoor Line is an inspirational example of what can happen when civil engineers and communities work together.”

“The project shows how infrastructure can improve connectivity for rural areas and how quickly improvements can be delivered for everyone’s benefit. What’s more, the scheme has created a template for the successful restoration of other disused railways across the UK,” Walters said.

‘The South West is building for the future’

Project Awards

A flooding solution in Sidmouth, Devon won this year’s Judges’ Special Award.

It’s clever design, combining floodwater storage and sustainable drainage with a beautiful outdoor amphitheatre, impressed the judging panel.

The Sidmouth Flood Alleviation Scheme also proved the public’s favourite, winning the South West People’s Choice Award, following an online vote in July 2022.

Sidmouth Flood Alleviation Scheme
The Sidmouth Flood Alleviation Scheme

For the first time, the Resilience Award was presented in recognition of ingenuity in adapting to the impacts of climate change, enabling improvements to biodiversity, and demonstrating a commitment to sustainability.

The inaugural winner was Buckfast Abbey Fish Pass, a new state-of-the art replacement to a failing Victorian pool and weir on the river Dart.

The project aimed at improving upstream migration of salmon and sea trout.

Individual Awards

Anna Gates apprentice of the year award 2022 south west
Left to right: Sally Walters, chair of judges; Rob Allen, Tony Gee & Partners (award sponsor); Anna Gates, ICE South West Apprentice of the Year; Stuart Allen, ICE South West regional committee chair.
Image credit: EventPhotographyBristol

Anna Gates, a degree apprentice with EDF Energy, was named Apprentice of the Year and Alastair Taylor, methods engineer with Balfour Beatty, won Graduate of the Year.

Oliver Armstrong, an engineer with Atkins, was Highly Commended in the graduate category.

Miranda Housden, ICE South West Regional Director, said that the awards showcased the challenging work undertaken by civil engineers for the benefit of regional communities.

She said: “The project winners demonstrate how social value, economic growth, climate resilience and inclusivity can be unlocked through excellence and innovation in the design, construction and implementation of infrastructure schemes.”

“Plus, the awards confirm that the South West is building for the future by investing in the new talent we need to help the region thrive in the years to come,” she added.

Find out more about the shortlisted projects and awards sponsors

  • Lidia Pearce, communications lead at ICE South West