Latest from NR including Barmouth Viaduct restoration

Today’s releases from the Network Rail Press Office.

Network Rail begins biggest restoration of Barmouth Viaduct in its history.

Barmouth Viaduct will undergo a £25m upgrade to protect it for local people and visitors in the future.

The work to the Grade II* listed structure will include replacing a large number of the timber and metal elements of the viaduct, as well as replacing the entire length of track.

Bill Kelly, Network Rail’s Route Director for Wales and Borders, said:

“Barmouth Viaduct is one of the most celebrated and recognisable structures in Wales and is the only major timber-built bridge still in use.

“We are investing £25m to give Barmouth Viaduct the biggest upgrade in its history, protecting our industrial heritage and ensuring this vital transport link can continue to serve local people and visitors, when the time comes, for generations to come.

“We have been working closely with Cadw, Gwynedd County Council and other stakeholders over several years to develop our plans. I want to reassure the local community that we have adapted these plans to make sure we are following Government guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said:

“The Barmouth Viaduct is an iconic part of Wales’ railway heritage and I am pleased that it is benefitting from a portion of the £2 billion UK Government investment in the Wales and Borders network to preserve and upgrade it. The upgrades by Network Rail will secure the important link between Machynlleth and Pwllheli and protect a popular part of the Wales coastal route.

“Together with the £8.5 billion investment in Great Western Rail’s Intercity Express trains and electrification between London Paddington and south Wales, and upgrades to North Wales railway lines, the UK Government is delivering improvements in rail infrastructure and improving journeys for passengers in every part of Wales.”

Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said:

“I have seen for myself how important the viaduct is to the community so this is welcome investment. As well as being an important transport link it is historically significant infrastructure, and I look forward to seeing these plans taken forward.”

James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, said:

“I’m delighted that Network Rail are making this major investment in safeguarding the future of this iconic structure and the Cambrian Coast Line. This investment sits alongside our own investment in transforming services throughout the Wales and Borders network, including brand new trains and extra services for the Cambrian Coast Line in the years to come. 

“We’re working collaboratively to ensure minimal disruption for our passengers while work takes place. As our services will be affected, it’s important for anyone travelling on the Cambrian Line to check before you travel, in case of any changes to our timetables. You can do this on the TfW Rail website www.tfwrail.wales or the TfW app.”

Liz Saville Roberts MP said:

“I am pleased Network Rail has set-out a firm timetable to restore this iconic structure, the only major timber railway bridge that is still in use today.

“This substantial investment will safeguard Barmouth Viaduct for future generations, strengthening ties among communities along the Cambrian coast and serving as a vital tourism link.

“None of this would have been possible without effective cooperation between partner agencies and local stakeholders. I look forward to seeing how the work progresses.”

To reduce the impact of the work, it has been carefully planned to take place over three years, with three shorter full closures of the 19th century viaduct, rather than one longer full closure. The first closure is planned for this autumn, when the restoration of the bridge’s timber elements begins. Preparation work will begin in June.

Network Rail has adapted the plans to make sure work can be delivered safely in line with Government guidance.

Members of the local community are invited to dial into a conference call with the project team to find out more about the work and ask questions. The call will take place on:

Wednesday 3 June at 6pm on Freephone 0800 012 1325 (passcode: 591 166#)

Further information about the project can be found here: www.networkrail.co.uk/barmouth.

Barmouth Viaduct facts

  • Located on the Cambrian Coast line, between Pwllheli and Machynlleth, in Gwynedd County Council and Snowdonia National Park.​
  • Built in 1864 across the Mawddach​
  • Grade II* listed
  • Barmouth is the only major timber built bridge still in use
  • 820m in length: 700m timber/120m metallic​
  • Originally built with a drawbridge on the northern end, but this was replaced with a steel swing bridge in 1900.

Reliability improvements completed on Clacton-on-Sea branch line over Late May Bank Holiday weekend

Essential rail works have been completed on the Clacton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze branch lines during the Late May Bank Holiday weekend to improve reliability for those who need to travel and for when more passengers return in the future.

Network Rail’s engineers replaced hundreds of components on the overhead wires on the Clacton-on-Sea branch line as part of a package of work to increase reliability, reducing delays and cancellations. Track maintenance was also completed along with the installation of bridge track supports between Thorpe-le-Soken and Clacton-on-Sea. New rails were installed at Weeley.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “This work is vital to keep our network running safely and smoothly while reducing the risk of delays and cancellations for those who need to travel. The benefits of this work will remain for years to come, ready for when we welcome back more passengers in the future.”

Passengers are reminded to only travel by train if their journey is absolutely necessary.

Network Rail worker donates PPE to Northumberland school so children with additional needs can safely continue vital education

A Network Rail worker in the North East has donated spare personal protective equipment (PPE) to Collingwood School in Morpeth so that vital education can continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malcolm Tait is a Mobile Operations Manager based in Morpeth. His team work hard to respond to any issues on the railway, so services can continue to operate safely and efficiently. This means that critical workers who need to travel can get to their jobs and freight services can continue transporting food and medical supplies across the country.

As well as working on the railway, Malcolm wanted to support children with additional needs who are continuing to attend school throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The students at Collingwood School and Media Arts College usually have teachers and learning support staff around them, and access to specialist facilities, so it would be difficult for them to learn from home. Network Rail has provided over 200 PPE items to the school, including gloves and hand sanitiser, which means that lessons can take place in line with Government guidance.  

Malcolm said: “The staff at Collingwood School and Media Arts College are doing an amazing job to keep it open for students who need specialist support during these challenging times.

“I’ve seen the hard work from teams across Network Rail to provide PPE for frontline NHS workers, and I suggested donating items to Collingwood School, so the students can safely continue with their lessons in an environment that they are familiar with.  

“I’m proud of my colleagues at Network Rail for helping me gather the spare PPE so it could be taken to where it is needed.”

Clare Tait, School Business Leader at Collingwood School and Media Arts College, said: “We are so thankful for the donation of the PPE equipment from Network Rail.

“It was extremely generous and a very welcomed surprise. It will enable us to follow government guidelines more safely.”

Network Rail safety film inspired by Northamptonshire pupils now available as downloadable comic.

A comic book produced by Network Rail which highlights the devastating consequences trespassing on the railway can have is now available to download online for free.

The comic book has been produced as part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade and is based on Network Rail’s multi-award winning safety film ‘18’ which showcases just how dangerous trespassing on the railway is, particularly in areas where the railway is electrified.

The plot for the film and comic was devised through safety workshops which Network Rail ran with schools across Northamptonshire with more than 250 pupils ages 11-16 taking part and inputting their ideas. One idea, put forward by Kingswood Secondary Academy in Corby, was then chosen as the basis of the film.

Network Rail chose to produce the film and comic in this way way to make sure that it resonated with the target audience, as well as getting pupils in the area where the railway line is being electrified engaged with the message.

Having the comic online and easily accessible will help to further spread this vital safety message. The comic can be downloaded by visiting https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/safety-in-the-community/railway-safety-campaigns/always-on/

Network Rail is urging parents and carers to speak to their children about the dangers of trespassing on the railway, particularly as new figures show that there have been over 1000 trespass incidents* since lockdown began.

As part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade, Network Rail is electrifying the line from London to Kettering and Corby via Bedford in a £1.5billion investment. It will bring a wide range of benefits to passengers including more seats, quieter trains, and a more reliable railway for passengers.

Gavin Crook, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “The comic is a great way to engage with young people about the dangers of trespassing on the railway and how this can, and does, have devastating, life changing and fatal consequences.

“We hope that being able to access the comic online will mean we can reach even more young people and really hammer the message home that they must stay off the tracks, as there is never any excuse to mess around on the railway.

“Although the Midland Main Line Upgrade will bring significant benefits to passengers, the electrification of the route from London to Kettering and Corby via Bedford does bring an additional danger to anyone trespassing on the tracks, so we need people to heed the warning and stay safe.”

Michelle Newman, Principal at Kingswood Secondary Academy, said: “I am incredibly proud of our pupils and their hard work that went into this creative project with Network Rail and the British Transport Police, to help ensure the safety of our wider community.

“As an Academy, we have been thrilled with the success of the short film and are excited to see our pupils’ ideas come to life in this new comic book.

“I would also like to thank Network Rail for this wonderful opportunity and their support and encouragement of our pupils throughout this project.”

All text and photographs reproduced courtesy of Network Rail

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