Published on : Saturday, June 11, 2016
South Gloucestershire residents are invited to an event to find out more about work that will soon be taking place to prepare the 130-year-old Severn and Patchway tunnels for the arrival of a new fleet of longer, faster, quieter and greener electric trains.
The event will take place at 7pm on Thursday 16 June at Patchway Community College on Hempton Lane and will begin with a presentation by the Network Rail project team, followed by an opportunity to ask questions.
The work is an important part of the company’s Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers and follows projects already under way in Bristol, Bath, Swindon, Didcot and Oxford to electrify the Great Western Main Line.
The upgrades required to prepare both tunnels for electrification are extensive and will involve installing conductor beams to power the new fleet of electric trains to run underneath. To install this beam in the Severn tunnel, four tonnes of soot needs to be removed and extensive improvements made to the brick work.
In addition, to accommodate the electrification equipment, the track will be lowered in the Patchway tunnel and underneath the nearby Little Stoke Farm bridge to preserve its historical architecture.
The scale of this engineering challenge together with the type of machinery required to carry out the work means that a temporary closure of both tunnels is unavoidable. This temporary closure will take place over six weeks, from 12 September to 21 October 2016.
Anthea Dolman-Gair, Network Rail’s senior programme manager, said: “The work around Patchway, Filton and Pilning is an essential part of our Railway Upgrade Plan and will pave the way for electric trains and the benefits these will bring for residents and passengers. These benefits include faster trains with more seats and more legroom as well as less noise and cleaner air for those who live close to the railway line.
“Everyone is welcome at our event and I’d urge anyone who wants to know more about our plans, or has a question, to come along.“I’d like to thank the local community in advance for their patience and understanding while we carry out these essential improvements to modernise Brunel’s railway.”
Before the core work starts, Network Rail will shortly be setting up a site at Filton airfield for the members of its ‘orange army’ who will be working around the clock on the Patchway track lowers. The compound will provide parking for the 500-strong workforce, who will work in shifts and travel by minibus to access the track at Patchway and Pilning stations. It will also provide a base for working on sections of new track before they are transported to the tunnel.
Over the next six months, Network Rail and train operator, Great Western Railway, will continue with their extensive engagement programme to ensure passengers can make informed travel choices during the temporary closure.
Throughout the work train services to and from of Wales will still be running, but some journeys will take longer and on some routes replacement bus services will be in operation.