Network Rail engineers are being trained to carry out the electrification of the Severn Tunnel at a state-of-the-art training facility in Wales.
The 130 year-old Severn Tunnel will close for six weeks from 12 September to prepare it for electrification. Network Rail has said that the work will be a critical milestone in the project to deliver electric trains for passengers in South Wales, as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan.
Network Rail said that the training facility at Coleg Y Cymoedd in Nantgarw, jointly funded by the college and the Welsh Government, has a life-sized mock-up of the overhead line equipment that will be used to power the new fleet of electric trains through the tunnel.
The public body said that it was working in partnership with contractors ABC and AMCO, and was supported by McGinley Support Services, to deliver the training, which enables engineers to build, dismantle and maintain the overhead power lines and specialist equipment unique to the Severn Tunnel electrification project.
It is the only facility in Britain to offer training on this specially designed piece of equipment known as a rigid overhead conductor rail, which will help to power trains through the narrow tunnel.
“This is a great example of working together with our suppliers, which is so important to the success in delivering this key milestone in the project to electrify the South Wales Main Line,” said Network Rail Wales area director Dan Tipper.
“This training facility allows our engineers to train in a safe environment, gaining new qualifications, and fully prepares them for the unique work they will be undertaking this autumn to prepare the Severn Tunnel for electrification, providing faster, greener and quieter services for the growing number of passengers that use the railway.”
During the six-week closure, 200 members of Network Rail’s “orange army” will be working day and night to install over 13km of conductor rail it said.