Image 2021 01 15 T11 01 51

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Network Rail prepares first pre-built UK tunnel

Jamal Niaz morson news

Image 2021 01 15 T11 01 51

​Network Rail have announced they are ready to move an 11,000 tonne, pre-built tunnel into place under one of the UK’s busiest railway lines, in what is a first for UK engineering.

 The huge concrete box weighing more than the Eiffel Tower, will be slid under the rail infrastructure at Werrington, north of Peterborough, where the East Coast main line is crossed by a slow moving east-west freight route. The purpose of the tunnel is to take slower freight trains off the fast route, speeding up services and improving reliability.

 This will be a nine-day operation with work taking place later this month, avoiding an extended time of passenger disruption if traditional tunnelling methods had been used. The tunnel has been constructed over the last nine months beside the line and is ready to be installed using massive jacks that will inch it into position, pushing it at just 1.5m per hour along pre-installed guiding supports.

 Paul Rutter, route director for Network Rail’s East Coast line stated:

 “This is a massive engineering challenge, but it will avoid hundreds of hours of closure on one of the most important lines in the country.This is industry leading work that really puts the needs of passengers first in how we approach improvement work.

 In the past, Network Rail might have approached this problem by thinking about the easiest way to do the engineering. Instead, I’m proud to say we have come up with a creative and innovative solution that will deliver massive benefits while keeping disruption to a minimum.”

 Despite the line being kept open during the installation, it will mean a very limited number of services will run south of Grantham throughout the operation. Passengers who must travel are asked to plan ahead and think about whether journeys are necessary while the work is taking place.

 Paul added:

 “Passengers should only travel south of Grantham during these nine days if they have to,” said a spokesperson on behalf of the line’s train operators. “We strongly advise people to check before they travel and allow plenty of time as journeys will take longer.”

 Rail minister, Chris Heaton was also full of praise for the innovative project:

 This is an astonishing feat, underlining this country’s reputation for pioneering engineering and delivering major upgrades for passengers.”

“By undertaking a project of this magnitude now we are making the most of our railways being quieter, putting in place vital new infrastructure that will improve our railways for when passengers are safe to return.”

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