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Rail services resume through Farnworth Tunnel

Full services have resumed through Farnworth Tunnel today (14 December) after Network Rail engineers worked round the clock to connect new tracks through the re-bored tunnel over the weekend. 

The upgrade work at Farnworth, the disruption from which meant far fewer services could run between Bolton and Manchester for the past eight months, has been carried out to accommodate two electrified lines once electrification of the line from Manchester to Preston is complete. 

Works to re-bore the tunnel went from being ahead of schedule in August to being delayed until this month, after Network Rail stumbled upon “exceptionally poor ground conditions”. 

During the past eight months, Network Rail kept one of the 270m-long tunnels open to passenger services, while the other – just 1.5m away – was completely rebuilt using the UK’s biggest tunnel boring machine. 

While trains have been running in both directions on a single line, services have been less frequent. But from today Northern Rail will return to a normal timetable. 

As well as rebuilding the tunnel, Network Rail engineers demolished and rebuilt Farnworth and Moses Gate stations in line with the new tracks. And more than 1,600m of track has been lowered to support an increase in line speed. 

Nick Spall, route delivery director at Network Rail, said: “Over the weekend our engineers worked round the clock to connect the new tracks through the tunnel, and I’m delighted that we have been able to restore the full timetable for passengers on this key route. 

“I would like to thank passengers and the local community for their patience whilst we have carried out this work, which will bring real benefits in the future.” 

The weekend closure of the route on 12-13 December has seen the new tracks brought into use, but there will initially be a speed restriction on this new section of railway. This will be removed after further work in the new year, which will require an additional closure of the railway. Full details will be confirmed as soon as possible. 

Alex Hynes, managing director for Northern Rail, said: “With services now returning through the newly developed Farnworth Tunnel, we have the opportunity to not only provide extra seats to our customers travelling through Bolton but to also start planning for an exciting new phase of electrification in the north west. Our customers have been amazingly patient throughout this complex and challenging project.”


Andrew Morley   15/12/2015 at 01:48

I had the privilege of being on the first public train (pictured above, Trans Pennine Express 185115) to go through the newly bored Farnworth Tunnel on Monday (14-12-15) morning at 05:47, having caught this train from Horwich Parkway at 05:30 into Manchester. This train was 2.75 hours earlier than the one I would normally catch, but I got up especially early to celebrate this monumental achievement of re-boring this tunnel! Not only was I on this first public train through the new tunnel, but I was sitting on the front most row of passenger seats, and given that I was the only person on this row, I therefore became the very first passenger to travel through this new tunnel! After having exited the tunnel at the Kearsley end I mentioned to the other three passengers who were sitting near to me that the four of us were the first four passengers to travel through the tunnel! Two of them were asleep, on their way to the train's destination - Manchester Airport - and the other person was also oblivious to the significance of the journey! Originally, I was going to alight at Salford Crescent station and then board the train which was due to go back through the tunnel towards Bolton, and sit at the front of the train, which would then have meant that I would have been the first passenger in both directions to go through the tunnel, however, my train was a few minutes behind schedule arriving at Salford Crescent and so therefore I missed the Bolton bound train, so I stayed on the original train and when there was a train driver swap at Manchester Oxford Road, I got off the train and had a little chat with the driver (Billy from the Preston depot) on the station platform. He said that he hadn't originally realised that he was the first driver to drive a public train through the new tunnel, but when he saw all of the filming and photographers at both ends of the tunnel, he then realised the significance of those moments and we both shook hands! However, when I told him that I'd got up 2 hrs, 45mins earlier than I would otherwise have done, he said "You're far too keen!" But I feel very proud that I became a little part of the 580,000 man hour project :)

Graham   15/12/2015 at 14:05

WHEN / IF Will this line be Electrified or is is a myth?

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