Rail services on vital link line from Wales to the Midlands are back on track as tunnel work ends
Rail infrastructure chiefs are chuffed after completing work on the train line between Hereford and Shrewsbury.
Hard-pressed passengers were thanked for their "patience and understanding" after the completion of work to renew the track inside the historic Dinmore Tunnel on the Marches line.
A planned reduced service had been operating on the line between Newport in South Wales and Shrewsbury since the evening of Saturday, September 23.
It had followed 11 days of round-the-clock work during a temporary closure of the line between Hereford and Shrewsbury.
The line fully reopened this morning after engineers finished their work to replace the track, drainage and ballast in the London-bound side of the tunnel, which was built in 1853.
A team of 450 staff had worked a total of 16,600 hours to replace 1,016 metres of track, 1,217 metres of drainage and 4,333 tonnes of ballast – the stones that support the track.
It is hoped that the new track will boost reliability of journeys on the Marches line – an important rail link that connects South Wales to the Midlands and beyond.
Brian Paynter, Network Rail's project director said: “We would like to thank our passengers for their patience and understanding while this essential work took place.
“Unfortunately, the line between Hereford and Shrewsbury was closed for longer than planned when work near the tunnel overran on September 22 and 29 and we would like to apologise for the additional disruption this caused.
“We’d also like to thank our lineside neighbours for their patience while we worked close to their homes around the clock to safely complete the track renewal, which will secure the future of this vital transport link.
“The next time we return to renew this stretch of track, we expect it to be around the tunnel’s 200th anniversary in 2053.”
Follow-up work in the tunnel will take place on Saturday nights between September 30 and November 19, which includes using engineering trains to consolidate the new track stone.