The Cambrian Line reopens – seven highlights

Services have resumed on the Cambrian Line in Wales after extensive repair works following on from Storm Franklin

We have worked 24/7 to reopen the Cambrian Line on the first weekend of April, following flood damage caused by Storm Franklin in February.

In just six weeks, we completed repairs between Shrewsbury and Newtown, including repairing 33 washouts.

Here are seven things we encountered along the way:

Reinstating the Cambrian Line

1. Storm after storm:

The Wales and Borders rail network was hit by three named storms in five days: Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin. We were already stretched thin removing more than 100 fallen trees from track and restoring power to most of the network.

2. Further investigations revealed:

We used specialist equipment and drones to survey the Cambrian Line to determine the full extent of the damage. We originally thought that there were 12 major washouts on the line, however we found that it was almost three times as many, with 33 major washouts across a half-mile section of railway.

Aerial view of washouts on Cambrian Line

3. Rising river levels:

Our teams were delayed due the River Severn rising 3.9 metres above normal level – just 9cm lover than the highest ever recorded. We had to wait ten days for the river to fully recede before we could begin to repair the railway.

4. What did the Romans ever do for us?…

Once the river levels had dropped, we needed a way to safely access the site. We had to transport more than 10,000 tonnes of materials to site to build a temporary 700-metre-long access road.

5. Moving materials:

After the road was completed, we had to remove more than 3,000 tonnes of debris from site before we could start to repair the line. We then laid 4,000 tonnes of new ballast, the supporting stones beneath the railway, and 800 metres of new double track.

6. Extensive repairs:

More technical repairs were required to fully reinstate the line. We carried out three tamping shifts using specialised tamper trains to realign and the level the 800 metres of new track. We also cleared 11 culverts to help with drainage and installed new telecom cables across the line.

Tamper train on Cambrian Line

7. Future funding

We announced an emergency fund of £2m to further protect this section of the Cambrian Line. Our engineers are currently working on a resilience plan which will see rock armour installed along the railway embankment. We have already seen that rock armour is a tried and tested resilience method that reduces the impact of washouts by preventing ballast from being washed away. This means that in an extreme weather event, the railway can reopen within days rather than weeks.

Our aim is to reduce disruption and better protect your journeys, this future plan will do just that.

See how climate change and extreme weather are affecting the railway in Wales

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