Network Rail has announced that it is to set up a temporary compound on the Filton Airfield site, in support of its project to prepare the 130-year-old Patchway and Severn tunnels for the arrival of a new fleet of longer, faster, quieter and greener electric trains.
The compound, adjacent to the A38 Gloucester Road, will provide a parking area for the approximately 500 workers assigned to the project, who will work in shifts and travel by minibus to access the track at Patchway and Pilning stations. It will also provide a base for working on sections of new track before they are transported to the tunnels.
Around 30 management staff will be based at the compound and up to 200 workers will arrive and leave per shift (6am, 2pm and midnight).
Work on setting up the compound at Filton Airfield was expected to get under way as we went to press (late June), with the delivery of sleepers and rails commencing shortly after.
Workers and delivery lorries will access the site via the airfield main access gate, off the A38. Wherever possible, deliveries will be planned to avoid the start and end times of shifts at the nearby Rolls-Royce and Airbus sites.
Pre-assembled track panels will be transported from Filton Airfield to the railway access points in the evenings, after 8pm. Local residents are advised that temporary congestion may occur on Station Road in Little Stoke as HGVs travel to and from the Network Rail compound at Patchway Station.
The upgrades required to prepare both tunnels for electrification are extensive and will involve installing conductor beams to power the new fleet of electric trains to run underneath. To install this beam in the Severn tunnel, four tonnes of soot needs to be removed and extensive improvements made to the brick work.
In addition, to accommodate the electrification equipment, the track will be lowered in one of the Patchway tunnels and underneath the nearby Little Stoke Farm bridge (on Station Road, near the Sort It centre), to preserve its historical architecture.
The scale of this engineering challenge together with the type of machinery required to carry out the work means that a temporary closure of both tunnels is unavoidable. This temporary closure will take place over six weeks, from 12th September to 21st October 2016.
Throughout the work, train services to and from South Wales will still be running, but some journeys will take longer and on some routes replacement bus services will be in operation.
Ahead of the closure, passengers are advised to check before they travel through Great Western Railway or National Rail Enquiries.
For more information on railway closures, visit GWR.com/SevernTunnel2016
Photo: Severn Tunnel electrification drilling work.
This article originally appeared in the July 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.