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Watch: Largest ever abnormal load takes to the roads of Wales

16 Jan 2024 3 minute read
The abnormal load heads through Brynmawr (Credit: Matt Lane)

People thronged the streets and roads of south Wales to catch a glimpse of the largest abnormal load movement ever seen in Wales.

The first of three record-breaking abnormal loads – a giant transformer – took to the road network – on a very slow journey from Newport Docks to Hirwaun Power Station. These loads are the heaviest ever in Wales, with individual vehicle weights of up to 588 tonnes. The abnormal load movements will take place overnight between 20:00-06:00, with a turbine, and a generator the next to be transported.

The trailer used to transport the load measured approximately 6.7 metres wide, 78 metres long and had 28 axles. The abnormal load began its 38-mile journey at Newport Docks, then carefully navigated the A48, A449, A40 and A465 carriageways before arriving on-site at the Hirwaun Power Station.

Closures of the A449, A40 and A465 carriageways were required and there were rolling road blocks on the abnormal load route. With the vehicle transporting the abnormal load travelling between 5-15mph.

The abnormal load certainly piqued the curiosity of the general public who took to the roadside to capture pictures and videos of this giant transportation.

The abnormal load was certainly given a warm welcome with a spoof sign planted at the roadside to greet the 78 metre long procession as it wound its way through Merthyr!

A spokesperson for Traffic Wales speaking ahead of the first load departing detailed the planning that was needed to transport this record-breaking load: “The movement requires careful collaboration with a range of partners including: the South Wales Trunk Road Agent (SWTRA) and Future Valleys, both working on behalf of the Welsh Government; Hirwaun Power; Allelys, the specialist hauliers, and a combined force of Gwent police and the South Wales Police who will escort the loads throughout.

“Months of preparation, planning and assessment have taken place to ensure that the 61 structures the load will traverse are capable of safely carrying it. In addition, the precise timings of the movement have been carefully coordinated with the current A465 dualling project.

“Once the turbine, generator and transformer have arrived on site, they will help manage the stability of the national power grid. This infrastructure will be used during periods of peak electricity demand and when intermittent renewable technologies are unable to produce the power required to keep the country running. Hirwaun Power Station will not operate more than 1,500 hours a year and as such, will help the country to transition to a lower carbon economy. Its 299MW capacity will generate enough electricity to power more than 150,000 households within a matter of minutes.”

Richard Jones, SWTRA’s Head of Service, added: “We’re delighted to be able to facilitate this movement on our trunk road network. A lot of hard work has taken between us and key partners to ensure this was achieved with the least amount of disruption possible to the network’s infrastructure and the people who use it.”

Find out more about the abnormal loads routes and road closures HERE

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