Renewing track, removing scrap rail and upgrading drainage. Network rail completed upgrades and improvements on the Victorian -built Crick Tunnel on the Northampton loop in five days.
The Northampton loop is one of Europe’s busiest and mixed used lines for passenger and freight, however Network rail ironically were able to take the appropriate steps and decisions to address the problems, due to the decline of passengers and services as a result of the COVID19 pandemic.
With Network Rail and train operators agreeing to close the railway and fix the problem once and for all.
The 140-year-old tunnel had been causing major delays and problems for both passengers and freight causing delays up to 15,000 minutes or 10 days in the last eight years.
James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast Mainline South route director, said: “I’d like to thank passengers making essential journeys for their patience while we carried out this accelerated upgrade work on the vital route between London and the Midlands.
“This speedy upgrade of Crick tunnel shows how the rail industry is coming together to get the railway in the best possible shape for passengers when they can return once coronavirus travel restrictions are eased.
“This is all part of our commitment to build back better as the country emerges from the pandemic.”
A total of 13 mile stretch of the 25,000-volt electric power lines could be turned off between Northampton and Rugby to allow for other essential repairs to be made without any interference.
With an estimate that the upgrades overtime will save the taxpayer close to £8m.
Gus Dunster, executive director of operations and safety at Avanti West Coast, said: “We are proud to have played our part to facilitate this unique opportunity for Network Rail to access and upgrade Crick Tunnel, while protecting vital services for key workers and those making essential journeys.
“This scale of work would usually take months of careful planning and take a year to complete but as a result of collaborating successfully with industry colleagues, we were able to do this in a matter of days.
“It’s a great achievement and we would like to thank all of those involved for making this happen, and for the patience of everyone who travelled with us over the five days as the work was completed.
“The work will help to make journeys more reliable for our customers when we look forward to welcoming them back in the near future.”