A £25 million programme of works to improve the resilience of the Severn Estuary line are underway after five major incidents last year.
Engineers from Network Rail and contractor AmcoGriffin will be working to install an ‘active’ mesh system covering 19,500m2 that will be secured by more than 5,000 rock bolts on a one-mile stretch of the track near Purton. This system will hold the cliff face in position and prevent landslips from damaging and subsequently close the railway.
Work will begin on the line from Monday 31 July to Friday 18 August.
This work is following on from phase one of the project which was aimed at preventing landslips during a particular heavy period of rainfall in the winter. The issues with the rock face and the landslips caused extended closures of the line and temporary restrictions, causing delays.
The success of the first phase has prompted further work to be carried out to improve the resiliency of the section for a longer period of time and will involve removing 15,000 tonnes of material from the cliff face.
Nick Millington, route director for Network Rail Wales & Borders, said: “The line between Newport and Gloucester is particularly vulnerable to landslips due to its exposed location along the Severn Estuary.
“We are seeing more frequent extreme weather events as a result of climate change, which is why we are prioritising resilience projects like this, to protect vital passenger and freight links in the Wales and Borders route.
“This investment will ensure fewer closures and speed restrictions in the future, providing passengers and freight customers with a more reliable service.
The concerns for the climate and the need for a more robust and future-proof solution were echoed by Jan Chaudhry van der Velde, chief operating officer at Transport for Wales, who 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.”
Photo and video credit: Network Rail
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