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Work to repair and reopen the railway following a freight train fire at Llangennech is now complete

520 metres of new track at Llangennech
520 metres of new track at Llangennech

The railway through Llangennech has reopened for the first time in six months, following one of the biggest environmental recovery efforts Network Rail has ever been involved with.

What happened?

Derailed freight wagons at Llangennech
Derailed freight wagons at Llangennech
Derailed freight wagons at Llangennech

The southern end of the Heart of Wales line, which runs from Shrewsbury to Swansea, has been closed since August 2020, after a freight train, pulling 25 wagons, derailed while passing the small, Carmarthenshire village.

The devastation to follow saw the train wagons catching fire before around 350,000 litres of diesel spilled into the ground, causing major concern for the surrounding wildlife conservation area and waterways.


What we did?

Since August, ground teams from Network Rail, Natural Resources Wales, Adler and Allan and partner agencies have put in a total 37,500 hours of work to protect the local environment, recover the huge wagons from site and repair a large stretch of damaged railway.

30,000 tonnes of contaminated soil have been excavated from 150 metres of railway, at a depth of two metres and width of 20 metres. That soil has been replaced with new, clean material from quarries in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, with the fuel-soaked soil taken to a licensed waste management facility in Merthyr.

In the final few weeks of the recovery, Network Rail worked to fit around 530 metres of brand-new track before reinstalling the signalling, damaged in the fire.

Services running for passengers and freight users

From Monday 8 March 2021, passenger and freight services are back up and running on the railway line through Llangennech, although Transport for Wales is currently operating a reduced timetable, due to Coronavirus.

I am delighted that we have reached the final stages of our work to reinstate the railway following one of the biggest environmental recovery operations Network Rail has ever been involved with.

It is thanks to our quick-thinking frontline teams, along with our partner agencies, that the fuel spill was able to be contained so swiftly, allowing us to prevent what could have been a total environmental disaster.

Our teams have worked non-stop for the past six months and their dedication has paid off.

We can confidently say the measures we have taken will protect the local environment for generations to come.

Bill Kelly, Network Rail Wales route director.

Natural Resources Wales will continue to monitor the shellfish and wider environment over the coming months.

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