Home Electrification Video: Farnworth Tunnel

Video: Farnworth Tunnel

Work is being driven forward on the reboring of Farnworth Up Tunnel, on the commuter route between Manchester and Bolton, which is being enlarged to accommodate two tracks and overhead line equipment as part of the North West Electrification Programme.

Despite carrying out extensive ground investigations, the project team was faced with considerable challenges early in the excavation when the tunnel was twice inundated by running sands but, following difficult remedial works, progress since has been uninterrupted.

Key to the reboring is an open-face shield – a machine built in modular form by an engineering firm in Oldham and then assembled on site. It includes two telescopic cutting booms which are used to excavate material from the upper and lower halves of the working face; behind them is a hydraulic system to install the concrete lining.

Once the tunnelling is complete, the machine will be dismantled and its launch pit filled before track laying gets underway. Based on current rates of progress, it’s hoped the railway will be restored to full operation by the end of the year.

Graeme Bickerdike
Graeme Bickerdikehttp://www.railengineer.co.uk
SPECIALIST AREAS Tunnels and bridges, historic structures and construction techniques, railway safety Graeme Bickerdike's association with the railway industry goes back to the mid-nineties when he was contracted to produce safety awareness videos and printed materials aimed at the on-track community. This led to him heading a stream of work to improve the way safety rules are communicated and understood - ultimately simplifying them - for which he received the IRSE’s Wing Award for Safety in 2007. In 2005, Graeme launched a website to catalogue and celebrate some of the more notable disused railway structures which still grace Britain’s landscape. Several hundred have since had their history researched and a photographic record captured. A particular focus has been the construction methods adopted by Victorian engineers and contractors; as a result, the site has become a useful resource for those with asset management responsibilities. Graeme has been writing for Rail Engineer for the past ten years, generally looking at civil engineering projects and associated issues. He has a deep appreciation of the difficulties involved in building tunnels and viaducts through the 19th Century, a trait which is often reflected in his stories.

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