Tunnel closure to affect Joshua travel

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Image caption Anthony Joshua is scheduled to fight Carlos Takam at 22:30 BST in Cardiff on Saturday

The Severn Tunnel on the south Wales to London railway line will be closed this weekend as Wales stages what will be its best attended one-day sports event.

Anthony Joshua will defend his IBF and WBA heavyweight boxing titles against Frenchman Carlos Takam in Cardiff.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said 78,000 fans are due at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, beating the 74,600 best at the 2002 European rugby cup final.

Buses will replace trains between Newport and Bristol over the weekend.

Boxing fans travelling to Cardiff from London and the east face longer journey times as Network Rail carries out its scheduled annual maintenance on the 131-year-old four-mile (6km) tunnel.

Great Western Railway (GWR), who run the service between London and south Wales will be operating fewer trains between Paddington and Swansea – one an hour – and diverting them around Gloucester between Swindon and Newport.

The fight’s ticketing partner has said that 92% of tickets they sold were to fans from outside Cardiff and project that 70,000 visitors will travel to the Welsh capital.

“Those travelling from London and Bristol to the boxing in Cardiff are strongly advised to plan their journey in advance,” said Mark Hopwood, managing director of GWR.

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Media captionCould you match Anthony Joshua’s workout routine?

Network Rail has not only advised there will be fewer trains travelling to Cardiff from London on Saturday, but also warned fight fans there will be no trains back to London or Bristol after the event.

Gates for the event open at 17:00 BST on Saturday and the main fight is scheduled to start at about 22:30.

Cardiff City also host London side Millwall at the nearby Cardiff City Stadium in football’s Championship on Saturday, kick-off at 15:00.

Fight fans have also been told the line between Cardiff and Newport is closed until 13:00 GMT on Sunday, with buses replacing trains.

Image caption The Severn Tunnel between Wales and England was the longest underwater tunnel in the world until 1987

Network Rail said the “vital upgrade work” has been planned since 2016 and forms part of the modernisation of the railway between London and Cardiff.

“We are working with Great Western Railway and Arriva Trains Wales to advise travelling fans to plan their journeys well in advance this weekend as railway engineering work will limit their journey options,” said Bill Kelly, chief operating officer for Network Rail Wales.

Network Rail said it had agreed the works in advance with train operators to “achieve the best value for the taxpayer”.

“Engineers and specialist equipment are booked in advance, therefore, cancelling work and rebooking it at another time would mean increased costs for the taxpayer,” Network Rail said in a statement.

Arriva Trains Wales have said it will run “an enhanced local service” with additional carriages on existing services around Cardiff.

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