The Gloucester-Newport line is a vital passenger and freight link, that requires major upgrade works after it has suffered several major landslides in the last 2 years. The location of the line ensures high risk of potential environmental damages, as it sits alongside The Severn Estuary, causing exposure to rain, wind, and sea.
The naturally occurring weather events have been a consistent thorn in the rail lines side, resulting in 5-line closures due to required remediation works in recent years. The closures of the line have disrupted the daily operations, with Network Rail estimating more than 20,000 trains have been affected by these weather-related incidents.
Due to these instances of disruptions and damage to the line, there will be a 10-week closure this summer, from Monday, 18th July until Saturday, 3rd September. This closure will have detrimental impacts for passengers within the local area, however it will allow Network Rail to carry out a major £25m upgrade.
From 18 July to 30 July, the closure will extend to Severn Tunnel Junction, as work will also be undertaken to renew the railway track over Chepstow viaduct on the River Wye.
Jan Chaudhry van der Velde, Managing Director of Transport for Wales, said:
“Work on the rail infrastructure to improve weather resilience has become more urgent, as climate change effects and severe weather have disrupted train services on several occasions in recent years.”
The £25M upgrade will include the removal of approximately 30,000t of material from the cliff face along a 4.8km stretch of railway near Lydney, in the Forest of Dean. A mesh and bolt system will then be installed to protect the railway from falling debris.
Network Rail Wales & Borders route director Bill Kelly said:
“This is a vital passenger and freight link so we must act now to protect the line from extreme weather events and our changing climate.
“We’ve carefully planned this work to take place during the summer holidays to minimise disruption for those who rely on the line for work and education."