REVEALED: Inside the giant engineering project taking place underneath our feet
During Lockdown one of the biggest engineering projects in the country has been taking place under Peterborough residents’ feet - and the Peterborough Telegraph was given exclusive access to the incredible works being undertaken.
The new Werrington Dive Under is creating new train tracks that literally ‘dive under’ the East Coast Mainline, in an effort to make passenger and freight railway services run more effectively.
The project has recently seen the completion of the Dive Under structure - a giant concrete ‘curved box’ which will weigh more than 11,000 tones - 1,000 tonnes more than the Eiffel Tower.
A Netowrk Rail spokesman said: “Good progress is being made on the project to construct a new tunnel beneath the East Coast Main Line at Werrington, north of Peterborough. This work is a key part of the £1.2billion East Coast Upgrade, which will enable slower moving freight trains to dive under the main line instead of crossing it, creating space for more long-distance passenger trains to run.
“A milestone was reached in August when work completed to install a second guide tunnel. The East Coast Main Line remained open for services whilst the 168-metre-long guide tunnel was installed, using a tunnel boring machine. (photo attached) Work completed on the first guide tunnel in May.
“The dive under will be contained inside an 11,000-tonne curved concrete box structure. This has been cast on site next to the current railway and is as long and as heavy as the Eiffel Tower. Using the two guide tunnels, this will be pushed underneath the East Coast Main Line. This is the first time this process has been used to push a curved box structure in the UK.
“Work has continued on the site throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, in line with Government guidelines on social distancing. We had to make some changes to the programme of work, and we have worked closely with the wider rail industry to reschedule this.”
During construction there have been complaints about the noise created by the works, but Peterborough MP Paul Bristow, who also got a close look at the project, said the issues had been dealt with - and the project would give Peterborough a big boost.
He said: “The Werrington Grade Separation project is the biggest and most complex railway engineering project in the UK outside London. And it’s right here in Peterborough!
“Slow moving freight trains heading up or down from Spalding currently cross the East Coast Main Line, severely limiting the number of passenger trains that can be scheduled – and as many passengers will know, regularly cause delays and knock-on effects along the line.
“Once the project is complete, these freight trains will be able to pass under the main line, meaning that there will be no congestion, and more frequent passenger trains can run – a real boost for Peterborough.
“There were noise issues with the Werrington Grade Separation Project for residents which I raised in our meeting. I am told these are now resolved.
“Network Rail will continue to keep local residents informed of their progress as the works continue.”