In a first for UK engineering, Network Rail are ready to move an 11,000-tonne tunnel into place under one of the UK’s busiest railway lines.
The 11,000-tonne curved concrete box weighs more than the Eiffel Tower will be moved into place in a 9-day operation.
The project is part of the £1.2bn upgrades of the East Coast Main Line taking trains from London to Edinburgh.
The new tunnel will be installed on the line at Werrington, north of Peterborough and will allow an east-west freight route to cross the under the East Coast Main Line. This will help speed up services and reduce the maintenance required along the section of the line.
Over the last 9 months, the tunnel has been built beside the line and is now ready to be pushed into position with pre-installed guides.
It will be moved into place at 150cm per hour using jacks to propel into place.
If the tunnel had been constructed in a traditional way, the line could have been closed for a month. The line will remain open during the work, but a limited number of services will run south of Grantham during the work.
Paul Rutter, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Coast Route, said: “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.”
Rail Minister, Chris Heaton Harris, said: “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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