The new tunnel at Farnworth officially opened to its first passenger train services on Monday (14th December 2015).
Over the weekend, engineers worked to connect the new tracks through the tunnel to restore a full timetable for passengers traveling on one of the busiest routes in the North West.
Upgrading the railway through Farnworth posed a particular engineering challenge, as the twin tunnels which carry the railway under the main A666 Manchester to Bolton road weren’t big enough to accommodate the overhead lines, which will power electric trains between Manchester and Preston.
The solution was to keep one of the 270m-long tunnels open to trains, while the other - just 1.5m away - was completely rebuilt using the UKs biggest tunnel boring machine, making it big enough for two tracks and their overhead power lines.
As well as rebuilding the tunnel, around 120 people have worked on the project to:
- install a concrete lining and permanent rib supports to the tunnel which has remained open
- demolish and rebuild Farnworth and Moses Gate train stations in line with the new tracks
- lower over 1,600m of track to support an increase in line speed to 100mph
- install a new footbridge at Kearsley
- demolish and reconstructed a road bridge (Cemetery Road)
The work Network Rail has completed at Farnworth is part of a major upgrade to electrify one of the region’s busiest commuter routes. It will mean faster trains with more seats, giving passengers better journeys and boosting the economy.
We would also like to thank passengers and the local community for their patience whilst we have carried out this work, which will bring real benefits in the future.
Paul Street, Public Affairs Manager (London & North West Route) at Network Rail, said: "Network Rail would like to thank passengers and the local community for their patience whilst we have carried out this work, which will bring real benefits in the future."