Devastating storms last week have led to major flooding and closure of the Cambrian line between Welshpool and Newtown, and it is likely to remain closed for several weeks.
Three named storms in five days. Storms Dudley and Eunice, hit the Wales and Borders rail network. Over 100 trees fell onto the track, leading to power outages and damage to station buildings and level crossings.
By Sunday, most of the network had reopened after a major clean-up operation. However, Storm Franklin then brought extreme rainfall and flooding in mid-Wales and the Borders. On Monday, the River Severn was recorded at its highest-ever level.
Network Rail engineers are working around the clock to repair the damage, and have been on-site near Welshpool since Tuesday. They have been using drones and specialist equipment to assess the scale of the damage. The force of the floodwater has completely washed away the ballast in at least twelve locations in a half-mile stretch of line.
Transport for Wales (TfW), which operates all services on the line, will be running replacement road transport between Shrewsbury and Newton, whilst rail services to Machynlleth will start at Newtown.
Further investigations will take place over the next few days to determine the full extent of the damage to the Cambrian line. Network Rail and TfW will keep passengers and the local community updated on the timescale for repairs and how rail services will be affected.
Commenting on the closure, Network Rail Wales & Borders route director, Bill Kelly said:
“I’m very sorry for the disruption to our passengers on the Cambrian Line. Fast-flowing flood water of biblical proportions has devastated a section of the railway south of Welshpool, and it’s going to require extensive repairs before we can safely reopen the line.
“The images from site speak for themselves. There are multiple sites where the ballast supporting the track has been completely washed away. With climate change, we’re seeing more and more extreme weather like this so it’s vital we continue our mission to build a more resilient railway for Wales and Borders.”
Jan Chaudhry-Van der Velde, Managing Director of Transport for Wales, added:
“We understand closures are incredibly frustrating for passengers and we will be supporting colleagues in Network Rail to ensure the line reopens as soon as possible.
“We’re still dealing with significant flooding in the area, but we are now able to operate replacement road transport to Newtown, where rail services to Machynlleth will now start. Passengers are advised to check the Transport for Wales website, app or social media channels for the latest information before travelling.”