The Cambrian railway line near Welshpool has now reopened

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The main railway line through Montgomeryshire reopened this weekend after a colossal effort saw thousands of tonnes of debris cleared and thousands more tonnes of new ballast laid.

The Cambrian line was closed following Storm Franklin in February after track analysis revealed 33 ballast areas had been washed away by flooding.

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The washouts occurred after the River Severn flooded, with water rising 3.9 meters above normal – just 9cm below the highest level on record. It took ten days for the river to completely recede before engineers could move in to repair the railway.

After six weeks of 24/7 shifts, Network Rail engineers, working alongside AmcoGiffen contractors, restored the railway and services resumed over the weekend.

Major repair work included the removal of 3,000 tonnes of debris, the laying of 4,000 tonnes of new ballast, three-quarter tamping to realign and level the track, the replacement of 800 meters of double track, the planting of new hedges, the clearing of 11 culverts and the installation of new fences and telecom cables.

A tamping train on the Cambrian Line.  Photo: rail network.

In March, Network Rail announced multi-million pound emergency funding to further protect this section of the line. Engineers are currently working on a resilience solution for this section of railway line which will see rockfill installed along the embankment.

The rock armor prevents stones from blowing away in extreme weather, meaning the railway can reopen in days rather than weeks.

Bill Kelly, Routes Director for Network Rail Wales & Borders, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to fully reopen the Cambrian line for passengers, following the scenes of utter devastation left behind in the aftermath of Storm Franklin.

“I would like to thank the passengers and the local community, who have shown incredible patience and support throughout the journey. I would also like to pay tribute to everyone who worked so hard to repair the railway so quickly under such difficult conditions – it was truly an incredible effort.

Claire Williams, Cambrian Railway Partnership’s Partnership Development Manager, said: “We are delighted to see that the vital link for connectivity to Shrewsbury and beyond on the Cambrian Line has been resuscitated in good time and ready to respond to the high demand for services during the Easter holiday period.

A tamping train on the Cambrian Line.  Photo: rail network.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at Network Rail for their tremendous efforts to reopen the line as soon as possible given the difficult conditions and the devastation of the line outside Welshpool.”

Other resilience works on the Cambrian Line in recent years include raising the Black Bridge, near Machynlleth, away from a flood zone. The bridge had been closed 30 times in a decade for emergency repairs caused by flooding.

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