Images: Severn Tunnel reopens as track upgrades completed

Network Rail have completed vital track upgrades in the Severn Tunnel after a ten-day period of work.

Severn Tunnel track renewal HERO_1406202

Credit: Network Rail

Network Rail engineers have installed 3.2km of new track, 5,200 new sleepers and 13000 tonnes of ballast – over a ten-day period – in one of the most challenging environments on the railway. The railway between Monmouthshire and South Gloucestershire has officially reopened following a ten-day closure to improve reliability of the line through the Severn Tunnel.

Old and new track

Old and new track – Credit: Network Rail

Teams worked a collective 17,000 hours, night and day, to replace the worn and corroded track, which will make journeys more reliable and reduce the need for emergency repairs. During the project, Network Rail and train operators kept passengers moving by using a diversionary route through Gloucester.

Cut track

Credit: Network Rail

Originally built around 150-years-ago, the Severn Tunnel is one of the most challenging environments Network Rail maintains, due to the harsh salt-water conditions, which make for a corrosive environment. This means the track, that usually lasts 25 years, needs to be replaced every ten. The new sleepers will be coated in tin to extend their life.  

Cutting track

Credit: Network Rail

“The Severn Tunnel is a vital rail link for passengers and freight between Wales and England – around 32,000 trains travel through the tunnel each year,” Mark Dix, Project Manager at Network Rail Wales & Borders, said. “Although working in the 150-year-old-tunnel presents some unique challenges, such as water and corrosion, we are determined to continuously maintain the railway to keep trains running.”