Secretary of State for Wales visits Severn Tunnel prior to reopening next week

Friday 14th October 2016

With just one week of the six-week closure of the Severn tunnel remaining, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns has visited the site prior to the tunnel reopening.

Travelling on board Great Western Railway’s 0745 London Paddington to Bristol Parkway, the MP was offered a cab ride experience, where he met with GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood. 

With more than 1,000 seats an hour running between Cardiff Central and Paddington during the Seven Tunnel closure, the Secretary of States for Wales commented on the importance of the work, while highlighting the value of strong transport links for the wider economy.

He said: 

“I recognise the closure of the tunnel has been a challenge for many of us here, but it’s clear the benefits will vastly outweigh this short period. 

"Electrifying the Great Western Main Line remains a top priority for this Government. It will be delivered.”

With the diverted journey made possible by recent £40m track investment between Gloucester and Swindon, GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:

“South Wales has remained very much connected and open for business during Network Rail’s work on the Severn Tunnel and the industry has invested millions to make sure trains have been still able to run during the period.

“We have been able to provide 17 trains a day and thousands of seats, but of course we have had to make changes to passenger’s usual journey while we couldn’t use the tunnel, and we are grateful for their understanding and patients during this vital work.”

Some 32 train services a day have been operating between the two cities, providing over 500 seats every hour in each direction while Network Rail works in the Severn Tunnel between.

The tunnel is expected to reopen to trains on Saturday 22 October.

During the work Network Rail is installing overhead lines that will power GWR’s new Intercity Express Trains (IETs).

The new IETs will begin to enter service on selected routes from next summer, with Network Rail expected to complete electrification of the line between London Paddington to Cardiff by 2019. Once complete South Wales customers will experience quicker journey times, up to 21 minutes between Swansea and London Paddington, and more seats – up to a 25% increase in seats per train compared to existing High Speed Trains.

Advance tickets are available from £18.50 (each way) from Cardiff Central to London Paddington.