NETWORK Rail engineers are busy preparing for 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 12th September to prepare it for electrification, a critical milestone in the project to deliver electric trains for passengers in South Wales, part of Network Rail’s railway upgrade plan.

The training facility at Coleg Y Cymoedd in Nantgarw, jointly funded by the College and Welsh Government, comprises of a life size mock-up of the overhead line equipment that will be used to power the new fleet of electric trains through the tunnel.

Network Rail is working in partnership with ABC and AMCO and 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 the UK to offer training on this specially-designed piece of equipment known as a Rigid Overhead Conductor Rail.

During the six-week closure,  200 members of Network Rail’s orange army will be working day and night to install over eight miles of conductor rail.

Dan Tipper area director at Network Rail Wales said: “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 Mainline. This training facility allows our engineers to train in a safe environment, gaining new qualifications and fully preparing 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.”

Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James said: “The fact we can support Network Rail in this way as it moves into its new era is something of which we can be rightly proud.”