UK-Werrington tunnel connects with railway network

Inside the concrete structure at Werrington

The 11,000-tonne tunnel in Werrington, north of Peterborough, is about to connect to the central railway system. During the weekend of 17 and 18 July, Network Rail will carry out the essential works that will link the new tracks to the existent Stamford lines. As a result, a part of the line between Peterborough and Stamford will be closed for passenger traffic so that works can conclude safely.

The current works are part of the East Coast Upgrade project that included the installation of a prefabricated tunnel in Werrington and an upgrade in King’s Cross station with the reopening of the third Gasworks tunnel.

As for the possible disturbances during the weekend, Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail’s East Coast Upgrade, commented that “this work to connect the tunnel to the existing lines is only possible when no trains are running on this section of the route. We’ve carefully planned the work and have bus replacements in place to keep passengers moving.”

Engineering innovation

The 11,000-tonne tunnel in Werrington is the heaviest single engineering project on the East Coast Main Line upgrade programme, a 1,2 billion pound (1,32 billion euro) plan to allow greater freight capacity without conflicting high-frequency traffic between London and Edinburgh.

An engineering team undertook the task of completing a pioneering tunnel installation. Specifically, The prefabricated concrete construction was pushed into place along pre-installed guiding supports after the three tracks above have been temporarily removed. Network Rail claims that using a traditional installation method would have meant closing the ECML completely for about a month. This technique, they say, allowed a reduced level of service to operate at the same time. The tunnel will be available for trains to use later in 2021.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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