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Video: Catesby Tunnel

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After 54 years of redundancy, one of the Great Central Railway’s most iconic structures is on the brink of a new life as an aerodynamic testing facility.

Catesby Tunnel, which is 1.7 miles in length, was built from nine shafts at a remarkably quick average rate of 110 yards per month. It was constructed to placate a local landowner who didn’t want the view from his stately pile to be blighted by belching locomotives.

Throughout this year, work to repurpose the structure has been underway, with much of it focused on repairs to the track drainage and managing water ingress.

The £13M facility is expected to open next spring and could bring more than 200 skilled jobs when fully complete. Members of the public will be offered access to the tunnel on Sundays for cycling.

Graeme Bickerdike
Graeme Bickerdikehttp://therailengineer.com
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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