Network Rail has announced that services on the route between Manchester and Bolton will return to a full timetable from Monday 14 December
OREANDA-NEWS. As part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, Farnworth Tunnel, near Bolton, is being enlarged to house two electrified lines. Following the breakthrough on 25 October, Network Rail has continued to work with train operators to reinstate normal passenger services as soon as possible.
A weekend closure of the route – on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 December – will see the new tracks brought in to use through the new tunnel. There will initially be a speed restriction on this new section of railway, which will be removed after some further work in the New Year. This will require an additional closure of the railway in January. Full details will be confirmed as soon as possible.
Nick Spall, route delivery director at Network Rail, said: “Farnworth Tunnel is an extremely complex engineering challenge being delivered as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. Breaking through to complete the tunnel was a key milestone for the project. There is more work to do before we can bring this new section of railway into use. This will require a short closure of the railway.
“We have worked closely with Northern Rail and First TransPennine Express to plan the work to cause the least amount of disruption to passengers. I would like to thank passengers and local residents for their patience so far.”
Nick Donovan, managing director, First TransPennine Express, said: "The project at Farnworth Tunnel is essential to enabling the electrification and longer term improvement to capacity over the route. It is good to see that the important milestone of completing tunnelling work has been achieved. I would like to thank customers for their continued patience over the next few months when there will be further periods of disruption while this project is completed."
Alex Hynes, managing director for Northern Rail, said: “Returning a fully functional railway to our customers is the most important element of this complex engineering project. Train services running on two lines with increased capacity are great news and we would like to thank our customers for their patience.”
To complete the project Network Rail needed to find a date when specialist equipment is available, and balance this with the need to minimise disruption to passengers. The two stage solution was agreed by the rail industry after considering all the options available to them.
Over 30,000 tonnes of material have been removed from the 270m-long tunnel, with 1,940 concrete sections put in place.
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain’s railway – the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.6bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We’re investing ?38bn in the railway by 2019 to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.