Published on : Saturday, October 22, 2016
Three quarters of Network Rail’s ‘orange army’ preparing the Severn Tunnel for electrification as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan are from Wales.
76%[i] of hundreds of the workforce who have been working day and night to upgrade the 130 year-old Severn Tunnel are from Wales. The tunnel closed in September and will re-open to passenger trains in the early hours of Saturday morning when a normal timetable will resume.
Many of the Severn Tunnel engineers have been recruited from former steel and mining industries alongside former armed forces personnel, all working to prepare the tunnel for the new fleet of electric trains, which will result in more seats and faster, more reliable journeys for passengers.
Dan Tipper, project director at Network Rail Wales said: “We are delighted that in partnership with principal contractor ABC Electrification and key suppliers AMCO and Keltbray, we have been able to source so many of our team for this iconic project from Wales. It clearly demonstrates that the economic benefits of this investment as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan are already being felt here in Wales.
Andy Thomas, route managing director for Network Rail Wales, said: “To have such a high percentage of our workforce coming from Wales is testament to the wealth of highly skilled workers based here. The team is delivering what is a major milestone in the delivery of electric trains to South Wales as part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan.
“As well as the significant long-term benefits of electrification including faster, greener, more frequent trains there will also be a boost to economic growth in South Wales thanks to better connectivity to and from London, a critical factor for attracting inward investment.”
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “Modernising the Great Western Main Line is a top priority for this government and Network Rail and its outstanding team of engineers are delivering this priority. The reopening of the Severn Tunnel is the latest stage in the UK government’s rail upgrade plan. Three out of four of the engineers working on this huge project are Welsh which is tribute to the skilled workforce that we have here in Wales.
“The closure of the tunnel has been a challenge for many of us but it’s clear the benefits vastly outweigh this relatively short period. Faster and greener connectivity is vital to ensure that all roads lead to Wales and more than ever this country is open for business.”
Sarah Bowles, head of organisational development at ABC said: “This figure demonstrates the highly skilled, experienced and knowledgeable people available to work in the rail sector in Wales.
“The project team has also completed nearly 3,000 training days this year – this training includes rail competencies, career development, professional and technical training, including specialist overhead line equipment (OLE) qualifications.”