NETWORK Rail has successfully installed an 11,000 tonne tunnel on the East Coast Main Line which runs from Edinburgh to London.
It took nine days in total to push the curved concrete box, which weighs more than the Eiffel Tower, into place using four hydraulic jacks – at a speed of just 150cm per hour.
The technique used to move the structure is a first for UK engineering. Network Rail said that the method meant that hundreds of hours of passenger disruption was avoided and that services could continue running throughout.
The rail management firm’s team removed three tracks, lifted overhead wires and dug out spoil from the site. Once the tunnel was eventually underneath, they then put everything back in place.
Paul Rutter, route director for Network Rail’s East Coast route, said, “Our teams have completed this challenging piece of engineering in a creative way, which also allowed a reduced train service to continue for those who still had to travel. Over the nine days, we’ve made major progress on this vital project which will bring faster, more reliable journeys for passengers on the East Coast Main Line.
“I’m so proud that this project has shown itself to be one which is industry leading and that our teams have had the opportunity to use this new technique for the first time in the UK on one of the country’s most famous railway lines.”
David Horne, LNER managing director, said, “This essential part of the East Coast Upgrade will allow faster, more frequent LNER services between London, the North of England and Scotland by creating a new and improved route for slower trains to cross the main line. We look forward to working with Network Rail on the remaining East Coast Upgrade engineering works in the first half of this year, so that we can deliver the benefits for our customers and communities of this significant investment.”