THE central section of the Heart of Wales line in Powys has been handed back for services to resume on Tuesday (November 3) after Network Rail completed a huge recovery effort following extensive storm damage in Llandrindod Wells in August.
Storm Francis battered the line causing multiple landslips and washouts with an estimated 3,000 tonnes of cuttings, embankments and track being damaged while ballast, the stones that support the track, was washed away by flooding – forcing the line to be closed.
Engineers have worked round the clock since then, replacing over 4,500 tonnes of material hauled in by train, as well as restoring half a mile of washed out track and ballast and fully reinstated the three landslips.
In order to bolster the resilience of the line for future weather events, Network Rail has also installed CCTV to monitor water levels, renewed three culverts, half a mile of fencing and over a mile of improved drainage.
Weeks after Storm Francis caused the central section to close, a freight fire and derailment at Llangennech forced the southern end of the Heart of Wales line to also close.
Work continues to recover the site ahead of that section reopening in the new year.
Bill Kelly, Network Rail’s Wales route director, said: “I am really proud of our engineers who worked tirelessly to repair the damage and to reopen the Heart of Wales line as quickly as possible.
“They have completed a mammoth task and we are extremely pleased to reopen the line and to begin serving all of the communities who rely on this route.
“In terms of Llangenech, we are continuing to work with Natural Resources Wales and Alan and Adler, our environmental specialist, to decontaminate the site and to minimise environmental impact.”
Alexia Course, rail operations director at Transport for Wales, added: “On behalf of everyone at TfW, I’d like to thank our colleagues in Network Rail for their hard work in repairing the Heart of Wales Line between Llandrindod and Craven Arms. The completion of the work has allowed us to reinstate a limited rail service from November 3.
“I’d also like to thank customers for their patience while services have been disrupted and ask that they continue to check services online. We will continue to provide transport links using replacement buses between Swansea and Llandrindod. Our services in Wales are currently in place for essential journeys only, due to the ongoing ‘firebreak’ lockdown throughout Wales until Monday, November 9.”
Lisa Denison, development manager for the Heart of Wales Line, said: “A big thank you to Network Rail teams who have done a tremendous job repairing the line and improving the long-term resilience of this stretch of the railway.
“The investment that has been brought forward will help to protect this important line. The communities along the Heart of Wales Line have been very hard hit by recent line closures and reduced services, the knock-on effect has been massive.
“That is why we are so delighted to have the northern section back open and to see trains running again – it’s what the towns and villages need right now.”
Chris Howchin, capital delivery programme manager for Network Rail Wales, said: “We understand how important the Heart of Wales line is to our local communities, so we reacted swiftly to the devastation.
“I would like thank the teams for the hard work in some very poor conditions, our passengers for their patience and our lineside neighbours for their helpful support while we put the network back together.”