Rail franchises operators & contracts

19.06.20

Historic 175-year-old hillside tunnel repaired from the air

A helicopter has been used to repair a Victorian railway tunnel that takes passenger trains between Clitheroe and Manchester though a hillside in Darwen, Lancashire.

The tunnel has two shaft turrets that protrude out of the Darwen moors. They help release air pressure created inside by moving diesel trains, maintaining air quality for passengers and preventing damage to the walls inside.

Access to the land surrounding was not possible therefore as part of a £150,000 Great North Rail Project investment, Network Rail looked for an alternative solution.

A specialist helicopter team transported five tonnes of bricks and materials to build a new 2.6m diameter metallic grille on top of the shafts.

Scheme Manager at Network Rail, Mark E Smith said: “As part of our putting passengers first programme, we’ve invested £150,000 to make Sough Tunnel safer and reliable for trains carrying East Lancashire residents between Clitheroe and Manchester via Blackburn and Darwen.

“While we were unable to access the site from the surrounding fields, we used a helicopter to help complete the safety repairs.

“It proved a cost-effective solution as we did not have to pay any landowner costs and, with the wet weather we have experienced, meant there was much less damage to the local area building access roads for heavy goods vehicles.”

Alistair Weir, Senior Contracts Manager, at J Murphy & Sons, the engineering contractor which carried out the work, said: “It was a great collaborative team effort and we are delighted to use our skills to play our part in keeping Sough Tunnel safe and reliable."

Helicopter delivering

Images: Network Rail 

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