Werrington team ready for the big push

Inside the concrete structure at Werrington

Over nine days between 16th and 24th January 2021 an 11,000-tonne curved concrete box is to be pushed under the East Coast Main Line railway.

Morgan Sindall is building a new tunnel at Werrington Junction, near Peterborough, to separate slow-moving freight from long-distance passenger trains. The project is part of the £1.2bn upgrade of the East Coast Main Line.

The contracting team has spent the last nine months fabricating the new tunnel alongside the track, thus avoiding the need for lengthy line closures.

The new tunnel is a 155-metre long curved concrete box that will be pushed 1500 mm an hour, using hydraulic jacks to propel and steer it into place through guide tunnels that have been bored under the line. According to Network Rail, it will be the first time this construction technique has been used in the UK.

Network Rail route director Paul Rutter 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.

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“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.”

The big push was originally scheduled for September 2020, but like most projects in 2020, suffered some Covid-related slippage.

Werrington, north of Peterborough - (Photo credit: Network Rail Air Operations)
Werrington, north of Peterborough – (Photo credit: Network Rail Air Operations)

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