The major refurbishment of Dyfi Junction viaduct has been completed ahead of schedule after Network Rail teams worked through months of extreme weather and around the tides.
The 360ft-long viaduct carries the Cambrian line over the Afon Dyfi through the habitats of the area’s protected species, including ospreys and grey geese.
Work started on site in September 2022 and took eight months, with a pause between March and mid-August 2023 to reduce the impact on wildlife.
Built in 1863, the historical timber structure on the Ceredigion-Powys border has 15 pairs of wooden piles buried deep into the bed of the estuary, posing numerous challenges for the Network Rail team and contractor AmcoGiffen.
The tidal nature of the Afon Dyfi meant that the environment was ever-changing, and the use of pontoons to access each of the wooden structures allowed the work to be carried out safely and efficiently.
The team successfully replaced parts of the wooden structure with Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) resin, a polymer made from recycled waste plastic. It means that the viaduct will be more durable and requires less maintenance, reducing disruption to local habitats.
Network Rail’s commitment to protecting the environment didn’t stop there. Approximately 77 tonnes of timber removed from the structure was reused, reducing waste.
The team are also donating around 90 metres of track panels to Gwili Railway, which is a heritage line, in the coming weeks.
Network Rail’s route director for Network Rail Wales & Borders Nick Millington said: “It has been a huge challenge to complete the refurbishment of Dovey Junction Viaduct, working in storms and extreme weather while coping with flooding and a lot of mud.
“As well as completing the job safely, great care was taken to protect the environment along this beautiful stretch of railway and to recycle materials.
“We'd like to thank the local community and our passengers for their patience during this work and as we continue our restoration further along the line at Barmouth viaduct.
“These two projects will boost the resilience and reliability of this line for generations to come. "
AmcoGiffen operations director Andy Crowley said: “Safe, successful and early completion of the work at Dovey Junction viaduct is an incredible achievement for the whole team, including our supply partners. In addition, the whole project truly showcases what genuine, deep-rooted collaboration will look like in the years to come.”
Chief customer and culture officer at TfW Marie Daly said: “This significant investment in the Cambrian Line by Network Rail will strengthen resilience on the route for many years to come and help us to provide more consistent services for our customers.
“Rail replacement buses remain in place until December 3 and there are some changes to the bus routes in Barmouth from November 6 due to work being carried out by Welsh Water, so it’s important passengers continue to check for the latest information before travelling.”
The railway remains closed between Machynlleth and Pwllheli until Sunday 3 December to allow the restoration to safely continue at Barmouth.
Transport for Wales will continue to operate a combination of bus replacements and train services along the Cambrian line.