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Underground Lines
Issue 2 - 2nd December 2011

The majority of the preliminary work described in first issue of Underground Lines was completed ahead of schedule, the only item not tackled being the repointing of the tunnel portals. It was decided that rather than scaffold the portals to carry out this work it would be sensible to defer this until the drainage and track work had been completed when access would not impede the main work.

Additional work was carried out at the Kidderminster end of the tunnel where the soakaway on the east side (or should that be north side) of the track was completed (the railway does  virtually a U-turn between Bewdley and Kidderminster!).

Work being carried out on the soakaways near the end of the tunnel.

Also there is a photograph (below) which shows one of the tunnel refuges before work had started. The original tunnel bore with the sandstone face can be seen, together with the first lining of brickwork carried out during the 1880s (at various locations) to arrest deterioration. The final brick lining carried out by the GWR in 1910 that extends throughout the length of the tunnel can also be seen. Further information on the relining work can be found in The Great Western Magazine for December 1910 (page 314) and extracts from this article appeared in SVR News 109.

One of the tunnel refuges (see above).

Currently we are in the process of sourcing the necessary materials for the track replacement and these should all be arriving on railway during the next couple of weeks. The new permanent way materials will be delivered to Kidderminster before Christmas and then loaded into rail vehicles and either delivered or unloaded at the site or transferred to Bewdley for storage until required.

The main work begins on Tuesday the 3rd of January and the first operation will be the disconnection of signalling cables after which they will be recovered for scrap. Once this is done the main contractor will begin removal of the rail, sleepers, and the existing clogged and life expired ballast from the tunnel, these materials will be taken to the old sugar beet sidings for sorting by the SVR with the redundant materials being scrapped. The contractor will then cut the new drains in the bedrock along both sides of the line, new perforated drainage pipework with local catch pits and rodding points will be installed and backfilled as necessary. The contractor will be feeding in the new materials including bottom ballast from the sugar beet end of the site.

While this work is being carried out the SVR permanent way gang will be busy relaying the track between the Bewdley down distant signal and Bewdley portal. It has been necessary to carry out emergency work on this section following problems discovered during October to ensure that it remains fit for the Christmas trains (a Temporary Speed Restriction has been in force since October). A full replacement of the rail and sleepers in this area will now  be carried out, in addition to the work planned through the tunnel. Once this has been completed the SVR gang will move into the tunnel to begin the installation of the new track.

Work being carried out on the soakaways near the end of the tunnel.

The tunnel site will be under the control of the main contractor and we would ask that no unauthorised people go onto the site unless they are accompanied by a person that has been inducted into the site procedures and safety requirements. This is particularly important as not only is the tunnel defined as a confined space for the duration of the project but heavy plant and equipment may be working anywhere on the line between Bewdley and Kidderminster and this will significantly increase the risk. The contractor will be working extended hours which may include weekends and we do not want unnecessary problems or accidents to occur which could delay or even stop the work.


Look out for Underground Lines Issue 3 early in the New Year!


Phil Sowden

Infrastructure Manager