The Severn Tunnel has reopened to passengers following a six-week closure, during which a conductor rail was installed in the tunnel to power electric trains.
The closure of the key route linking England to south Wales was part of preparations for electrification of the line between London and Cardiff, which is due to be completed by the end of 2018. During the blockade, 40 tonnes of soot was removed from the tunnel along with four miles of cable, with eight miles of conductor rail installed. The conductor rail, a Furrer+Frey solution, will power the new Hitachi Inter-city Express (IEP) trains once electrification is completed. Work during the blockade also included the lowering of the track in the nearby Patchway tunnels.
Network Rail works with principal contractors ABC Electrification and Babcock to deliver the work, along with suppliers, designers and subcontractors including Amco, Keltbray and Arup. The main base for the project was a site compound at Filton Airfield.
Operator Great Western Railway marked the end of the closure by naming the 07.28 Swansea to London Paddington service as ‘Y Cymro – The Welshman’. HST power car No 43187 carried a commemorative image and powered this service on Monday 24 October, the first working day after the tunnel reopened.