A UK engineering first is set to take place as a huge 11,000-tonne curved concrete box is to be pushed under the East Coast Main Line (ECML).
The structure, which weighs more than the Eiffel Tower, is being installed in a meticulous nine-day operation as part of the East Coast Upgrade.
Engineers have spent the past nine months construction the tunnel next to the East Coast Main Line as trains have flown past between London and Edinburgh.
And finally, the construction is ready to be pushed into place along pre-installed guiding supports, after the three tracks above have been temporarily removed.
The traditional way of installing a tunnel would involve closing it completely for about a month, but the pre-constructed structure will be installed in just nine days and means a reduced level of service will be able to operate at the same time.
The work is taking place at Werrington, north of Peterborough, where the East Coast Main Line is crossed by a slow-moving east-west freight route.
The new tunnel will remove freight trains from the fast route, speeding up services and improving reliability, while also reducing the amount of maintenance required on that section of track.
Rail Minister, Chris Heaton Harris, said: “This is an astonishing feat, underlining this country’s reputation for pioneering engineering and delivering major upgrades for passengers.
“By undertaking a project of this magnitude now we are making the most of our railways being quieter, putting in place vital new infrastructure that will improve our railways for when passengers are safe to return.”
Paul Rutter, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Coast Route, 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.
“This is an 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 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.”
Images: Network Rail