‘Total Disaster Avoided’ As South Wales Railway Reopens

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The Heart of Wales line through Llangennech reopened today for the first time since a freight train derailed six months ago.

The line was closed in August 2020 after a freight train with 25 cars full of fuel (350,000 liters) derailed and caught fire, causing major concern for surrounding wildlife.

Since the derailment, Network Rail, Natural Resources Wales, Adler and Allan have devoted a total of 37,500 hours to protect the environment, repair the damage and remove the cars from the site.

A total of 30,000 tonnes of contaminated soil has been removed, replaced with new material from quarries in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

Finally, Network Rail installed 530 meters of brand new track and signaling, which were damaged by the fire.

Transport services for Wales, Great Western Railway services and freight trains can run on the line, although passenger trains currently run on a reduced schedule.

Bill Kelly, Route Manager for Network Rail Wales, said: “I am delighted that we have reached the final stages of our work to rehabilitate the railway following one of the largest operations in the world. environmental recovery in which Network Rail has never participated.

“It was thanks to our responsive frontline teams, as well as our partner agencies, that the fuel spill was contained so quickly, allowing us to avert what could have been a total environmental disaster.

“Our teams have worked tirelessly over the past six months and their dedication has paid off.

“We can say with confidence that the measures we have taken will protect the local environment for generations to come.”

Credit: Rail network

Natural Resources Wales will continue to monitor shellfish and the wider environment over the coming months.

Martyn Evans, chair of the recovery coordination group, Natural Resources Wales, said: importance, coordinated by Natural Resources Wales.

“A wide range of partners have demonstrated brilliant teamwork in working together to overcome many challenges and reduce these impacts through a Recovery Coordination and Tactics Group operating under the Local Resilience Forum. by Dyfed Powys.

“There have been far-reaching impacts on the environment – on land and in the sea, the community of Llangennech, local businesses, especially shellfish aquaculture, tourism and industry. Fortunately, most of these impacts have now been overcome and activities restored, although our work and support for some of these groups is ongoing. “

Llangennech after a train fire
Credit: Rail network

Alexia Course, Director of Transport Operations at Transport for Wales, said: “The reopening of the railway line via Llangennech is fantastic news for the local community, and we look forward to welcoming passengers back to the streets. TfW services.

“It took a huge amount of work from everyone involved and is an example of the strong collaboration between TfW, Network Rail and a wide range of partner agencies.

“While we are happy to mark this milestone, passengers are reminded that public transport is currently open for essential travel only, and a reduced COVID-19 schedule is in place across the network.

“Further improvement work is also underway on the northern section of the Heart of Wales line, and passengers are advised to check before traveling as alternative rail services are in service from Llanwrtyd Wells northward from March 6, 2021. “

Lee Waters MS, Llanelli, said: “When we first visited the site after the derailment it was like a disaster movie, but every time I revisited it it was clear to see the quantity efforts to save the environment and re-establish the railway.

“I have been very pleased with the constant flow of communication Network Rail has provided to all members of the local community over the past six months.

“It’s great to get this rail line back into service for passengers as we prepare to reopen the economy in time for Easter and summer.”

Nia Griffith MP Llanelli said: “It was truly impressive to see how the agencies worked together to take on the enormous task of cleaning up the wreckage, removing tons and tons of contaminated soil, to do restoration work and build the railroad from the deep foundation to the state-of-the-art track and junction, which I just had the privilege of seeing.

“I want to say a big thank you to everyone who was involved in all weather during the winter months to get this job done. When we get out of lockdown, I can’t wait to travel the line again. “

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