Network Rail has made a four-million-pound investment to protect the railway between Hereford and Abergavenny from washouts because of bad weather.
Over the past two years, there have been several washouts on the Marches Line, causing the closure of the line at short notice for anything up to seven days.
The railway between Newport and Shrewsbury is a vital artery for both passengers and freight, connecting south Wales with other parts of the UK, including Manchester, Birmingham, and North Wales.
To minimise future disruption and delays, Network Rail engineers have installed a half-mile of rock armour and refurbished culverts (under track drainage) between Hereford and Abergavenny. That is the same method that has been successful on a flood-prone stretch of railway in the Conwy Valley in north Wales.
Over 8,000 tonnes of rock were sourced from Machen Quarry in South Wales and transported to the site in ten trains, which reduced the project’s carbon footprint by the equivalent of 400 lorries making the journey by road.
Work began in May 2021, with the first phase of the project completed in November.
Further work will take place next Spring when more rock armour will be laid to future-proof the line against climate change.
To ensure there was a minimal impact on natural wildlife and the environment, Network Rail worked collaboratively with local landowners, Natural England, and the Environment Agency
Alex Hinshelwood, programme manager at Network Rail said:
“We know that rock armour works, as we’ve seen it in action on the Conwy Valley Line – where recent flooding there left the line closed for hours, instead of days.
“This is a huge benefit for passengers with less disruption to their journeys.
“We are dedicated to improving resilience across the Wales and Borders route and what we’ve installed here will protect the future of this stretch of railway for many years to come.”
This project is Network Rail’s latest scheme dedicated to protecting the railway against climate change and improving resilience across the whole Wales and Borders route.
Other schemes include raising Black Bridge out of a flood zone, installing landslip defences on the Severn Estuary, and installing rock armour on the Conwy Valley line.