Video: Network Rail completes major renewal project at historic Sudbrook pumping station: Pumphouse 1

Friday 26 Aug 2022

Video: Network Rail completes major renewal project at historic Sudbrook pumping station

Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Wales & Borders
| Wales & Western
| Wales & Western: Western

We take you behind the scenes of a year-long project on one of the railway’s most historically innovative feats of engineering.

Sudbrook Pumping Station has been a working part of the railway between south Wales and England for more than 130 years.  

When construction began on the Severn Tunnel, beneath the Severn Estuary, in the 1800s, engineers discovered a natural spring. 

Efforts were then focused on constructing a drainage system that could continuously remove the excess spring water. 

Today, the pumps at Sudbrook continue to play their role on the railway and once every three decades, those pumps are replaced - a big task that Network Rail, and contractors Centregreat, have just completed this summer.

The installation 

Each pump weighs one and half tonnes and requires lifting out of a 60-metre-deep shaft. 

Once out, the pumps and rising tubes are taken apart by hand and the process is reversed to install their replacements. 

One pump can take up to a week to remove! 

Modernising Sudbrook Pumping station is one of many projects in recent years that are delivering improved journeys for passengers between Wales and England.

It follows the electrification of the Severn Tunnel itself which has significantly reduced journey times. 

The new pumps will ensure less closures of the tunnel for maintenance and improve journey reliability. 

Peter Caulfield, project manager at Network Rail said: “This was a once in a lifetime project that I am very proud to have been a part of.

“Through very careful planning, we were able to keep trains moving through the Severn Tunnel while we replaced the pumps - which meant no disruption for passengers.

"The new pumps also mean there will be fewer closures of the Severn Tunnel for maintenance in future, further improving the reliability of rail services for those travelling between south Wales and England."

Contact information

Passengers / community members
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03457 11 41 41

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0771 094 0248

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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