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‘Rock armour’ installed on mid-Wales railway line

21 Sep 2022 3 minute read
A Transport for Wales train on the Cambrian Line. Picture: Network Rail.

A flood devastated stretch of mid-Wales railway is more resilient than ever with new 10,000-tonne ‘rock armour’ defence.

A trio of storms in February 2022 forced the Cambrian Line between Welshpool and Newtown to close for six weeks while engineers from Network Rail and AmcoGiffen worked around the clock to fix over a dozen washouts caused by unprecedented levels of flood water. 

To minimise future delays and disruption, Network Rail quickly got to work in a multi-million pound project installing 10,000 tonnes of rock armour along the bank of a-half-mile stretch of the Cambrian Railway line. 

Rock armour prevents the ballast – the bed of stones beneath the sleepers – from washing away during extreme storms. 

Devastating storms

“It’s hard to remember how devastating those February storms were, after the record-breaking temperatures this summer,” said Nick Millington, interim route director at Network Rail Wales and Borders, “but we’re always planning ahead to the next extreme weather event, making sure we are prioritising investments that will make our railway more resilient. 

“The Cambrian Line is a hugely important rail link for the communities it serves, and I am delighted it’s now better protected from the impacts of climate change so we can continue to provide a safe and reliable railway for many years to come.” 

Colin Lea, Transport for Wales’ Planning and Performance Director, said: “We welcome this investment by Network Rail in making the Cambrian Line safer and more resilient. The work to prevent damage and disruption from flooding will help secure the future of this important route, which provides a vital link for communities in North and Mid Wales. 

“We would like to thank the teams who have been working around the clock on site over recent weeks in difficult conditions.” 

Rock armour installed on the Cambrian Line. Picture: Network Rail.

Damage repaired

Andy Crowley, Operations Director, AmcoGiffen, said: “We’re glad we were able to quickly and safely repair the damage caused by the storms in February and, crucially, take further steps to prevent another washout over the coming winter.  

“The work we’ve just completed at Welshpool means customers will experience better journeys, at a time when reliable public transport is needed more than ever.” 

The railway remained open to full service during the upgrades at Welshpool – which involved the installation of locally sourced stone from Cefn Mawr quarry, in Flintshire. 

Network Rail is returning, this autumn, to plant short hedgerows in the gaps along the railway boundary. 

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