Werrington site

What is next for the Werrington tunnel?

Following the UK engineering first, at Werrington, where an 11,000-tonne curved concrete box was successfully pushed under the East Coast Main Line near Peterborough, key players in the project took time to speak at Network Rail’s follow up event. 

Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for the East Coast Main Line upgrade, Adrian Elliot, Senior Programme Manager at Network Rail and John Agar, Engineering Manager at Morgan Sindall were all on hand to discuss the nine-days of work.

The 155-metre curved concrete box tunnel, which is heavier than the Eiffel Tower, was pushed into place at just 150cm per hour, using four hydraulic jacks.

Despite the lengthy processes, using this cutting-edge technique still helped the team avoid hundreds of hours of passenger delays on this vital part of the East Coast Main Line and meant services could continue running largely uninterrupted throughout.

Teams removed three of the tracks, lifted the overhead wires and dug out spoil from the site.

Once the tunnel was eventually underneath, they then put everything back in place ready for regular services to resume.

Ed explained that the next steps are to install the northern tie into the Spalding Lines and southern tie in the Stamford Lines. They are also wanting to modernise Werrington interlocking to CBI and build the Werrington North Siphon.

Further work includes the extension of Lincoln Road Bridge, with new S&C connecting into the Spalding and Stamford Lines, the installation of 8,000m of p-way for the new WDU line, construction of an inverted siphon consisting of 2No, 14m deep, 9m diameter shifts, with 2No. 1800mm diameter pipes.

In terms of the impact, Covid-19 has had on the project, Ed also explained that the tunnel boring was the main issue in terms of access. October half-term was originally agreed for the nine-days of work but that had to be changed and then the industry gave the go-ahead for the nine days in January.

He further said that Werrington in jigsaw terms was one of the corner pieces, “this was one of the two to three main bits. Kings Cross is another piece of work due to be complete and then it’s the power upgrades north of Doncaster. There’s been a whole stack of milestones we’ve been able to achieve.”

Ed was also asked if he was excited about the work at Werrington, he responded, “the King's Cross throat work and power upgrades aren’t as sexy as the portal push at Werrington, especially as it’s the UK first for engineering. If you can’t get excited about a portal push at Werrington then what can you get excited about?”

Images: Network Rail 

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