Published on : Friday, September 9, 2016
The 130-year-old Severn Tunnel will close for six weeks from Monday (12 September) to upgrade it in preparation for a fleet of brand new electric trains, which will result in more seats and faster, more reliable train journeys – all part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better railway for passengers.
South Wales Mainline passengers travelling on Great Western Railway (GWR) services are being reminded to plan their journeys ahead as services will be diverted between Swindon and Newport from Monday until Friday, 21 October, increasing journey times by approximately 35 minutes.
During the six week closure Network Rail’s orange army of 200 engineers will work day and night in the tunnel to install over eight miles of electrical equipment which will power a new fleet of electric trains in the future.
Andy Thomas, route managing director for Network Rail Wales, said: “Wales is open to passengers and freight traffic during this essential upgrade but we are urging people to plan their journey ahead.
“This iconic project marks a major milestone in the delivery of electric trains to Cardiff by 2019. There are significant long-term benefits including faster, greener, more frequent trains as well as boosting economic growth in South Wales thanks to better connectivity to and from London, a critical factor for attracting inward investment.
“We would like to thank passengers for their understanding and patience as we complete this essential upgrade.”
GWR development manager, Wales, Mark Youngman said: “The electrification of the Severn Tunnel is a vital part in the modernisation of the railway between South Wales and London; and once complete will enable us to deliver more frequent services, more seats, and to reduce journey times into London from South Wales.
“We have been working closely with Network Rail and local authorities in Wales and along the route to make sure that we keep customers on trains wherever possible and provide the quickest, most convenient journey to their destination, minimising disruption as best we can.”
The scale of the engineering challenge and the extensive amount of machinery required to complete the essential upgrade work of the four mile long tunnel means that the closure is unavoidable.