Home Infrastructure Video: Conwy Valley recovery

Video: Conwy Valley recovery

The railway network has suffered the consequences of a very wet winter, with some sections of line closing for several weeks. In North Wales, the Conwy Valley branch has been out of action since the 27th December due to the effects of severe flooding.

Since then, a small orange army, brought together by contractor Alun Griffiths, has been helping Network Rail to bring closer the restoration of train services. Around 1,200 tonnes of material had to be excavated and removed before a partly-failed embankment near Llanwrst could be reinstated. Just to the south, a rail crane was used to lift out a concrete bridge slab, allowing retaining walls to be rebuilt. And 1,000 tonnes of new ballast was brought in to repair one-and-a-half miles of railway where 100 ballast washouts had occurred.

The Conwy Valley line has always been susceptible to flooding, running close to the river for much of its length. A lot has been done to improve it over recent years, but increasing the infrastructure’s resilience to severe weather events will become an ever-greater challenge as they become more frequent.

The immediate focus though is on the recovery works. These are now well advanced and it’s hoped the line will reopen at the end of February.

Graeme Bickerdikehttp://therailengineer.com
SPECIALIST AREAS Tunnels and bridges, historic structures and construction techniques, railway safety Graeme Bickerdike's association with the railway industry goes back to the mid-nineties when he was contracted to produce safety awareness videos and printed materials aimed at the on-track community. This led to him heading a stream of work to improve the way safety rules are communicated and understood - ultimately simplifying them - for which he received the IRSE’s Wing Award for Safety in 2007. In 2005, Graeme launched a website to catalogue and celebrate some of the more notable disused railway structures which still grace Britain’s landscape. Several hundred have since had their history researched and a photographic record captured. A particular focus has been the construction methods adopted by Victorian engineers and contractors; as a result, the site has become a useful resource for those with asset management responsibilities. Graeme has been writing for Rail Engineer for the past ten years, generally looking at civil engineering projects and associated issues. He has a deep appreciation of the difficulties involved in building tunnels and viaducts through the 19th Century, a trait which is often reflected in his stories.

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