Network Rail starts crucial Cambrian line improvements in time for busy summer period: Severn and Carno viaduct HERO

Friday 5 May 2023

Network Rail starts crucial Cambrian line improvements in time for busy summer period

Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Wales & Borders

Passengers are being urged to check before they travel between Saturday 6 and Monday 22 May as Network Rail carries out vital track and viaduct work between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury on the Cambrian line.  

A replacement bus service will be running throughout with refurbishment work taking place on Severn and Carno railway viaduct near Caersws, Powys,  

The 70-metre-long timber viaduct was first constructed in 1860 and then reconstructed twice in 1906 and 1927. It connects the Cambrian Line over where the rivers Severn and Carno meet, holding up the single-line railway with its eleven spans.   

Network Rail and contractor, Amco Giffen, will completely replace timber beams on spans four, ten and eleven, while carrying out remedial work on the rest of the bridge, including the replacement of metallic straps and fixings.   

Once complete, the work on the viaduct and the track will be done just in time for the busy summer period, ensuring regular passengers and those visiting the stunning area will experience reduced delays and ensure a safe, reliable service.   

Preparation work has now started in Newtown and further west in Caersws before the work.  

Network Rail engineers alongside contractors, Colas Rail, will be working continuously around Newtown station to remove and replace the track to help make passenger journeys more reliable.  

It includes 2,000 metres of new track, five new sets of railway points (which allows trains to move from one track to another) and 300 metres of new drainage (to prevent washouts and flooding).   

Road-to-rail vehicles and unloading trains will be travelling from Abermule to Newtown station throughout the work. This work will help allow the new rolling stock from Transport for Wales to be able to use the station. During the work at Newtown, the station car park will be closed for a month so that we can carry out the work safely. 

Buses will be replacing trains between Shrewsbury and Machynlleth from Saturday 6 May to Sunday 21 May. Passengers are being asked to check before travelling during this time.  

Work will continue after this 16-day-block in May, but will be carried out during the night when trains aren’t running.   

Gareth Yates, project manager at Network Rail Wales & Borders for Severn and Carno viaduct renewal, said: “This viaduct is over 160 years old so further work is needed to strengthen and extend the life of the structure to prevent emergency closures of the line.   

“This work has been planned before the busy summer period, to minimise disruption to passengers visiting the stunning scenery along the Cambrian line”  

Bradley Wallace, project manager at Network Rail Wales & Borders for Newtown track work, added: “We know that there is never an ideal time to carry out work on the railway and disrupt passenger services and we would like to thank the local community in advance for their patience whilst we carry out this essential track work.”  

“This is a significant investment to the Cambrian line, and I hope local residents will bear with us as they can expect more reliable passenger services after this work.”  

Jan Chaudhry-Van der Velde, Chief Operations Officer for Transport for Wales (Rail Services), commented: “This work by Network Rail will help make the railway infrastructure on the Cambrian line more resilient and improve the reliability of our passenger services. New Class 197 trains have been ordered for the line, so this investment will help clear the way for the trains to operate successfully.   

“We understand rail replacement services can be frustrating in the short term, but the overall benefits will be worthwhile for the future. We thank our customers for their understanding and patience while this vital work is taking place.”  

Notes to Editors

Shift times for Newtown track work: 

Friday 5 May – Monday 22 May Continuous working (24 hours)

Monday 22 May – Friday 26 May 10:45pm – 6:15am

Monday 29 May – Friday 2 June 10:45pm – 6:15am

Monday 5 June – Friday 9 June 10:45pm – 6:15am

Monday 26 June – Friday 30 June 10:45pm – 6:15am

Monday 3 July – Friday 7 July 10:45pm – 6:15am

Shift times for Severn and Carno viaduct: 

Friday 5 May - Monday 22 May 2023 10:00pm – 4:00am Continuously working between these times.

Monday June 19 – Friday 23 June 2023 8:00am – 5:00pm Post-blockade works to demobilise sites

Contact information

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03457 11 41 41

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Callum Jones

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