The UK has unveiled the new Werrington Tunnel with an aim to enhance passenger services on the East Coast Main Line as it passes through Peterborough.
This tunnel will reduce congestion on current tracks and support the movement of freight trains moving below the East Coast Main Line.
As a result, disruption to passenger services by freight trains can be avoided, in turn helping more passenger trains to pass through.
The project has been executed under the $1.59bn (£1.2bn) East Coast upgrade, which is expected to improve rail journeys between London, the north of England and Scotland.
Upon completion, this development will make road for the ‘massive infrastructure’ roll-out across the north and Midlands as revealed in the Integrated rail plan (IRP) last month.
The UK Government unveiled the IRP involving a £96bn ($129.41bn) package to boost rail services in the Midlands and North. It is said to be the ‘biggest ever’ government investment in the UK rail network.
UK Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “This country’s railways have long been home to marvels of engineering and the new Werrington Tunnel shows that we are continuing that proud tradition.
“Opening this new section of railway marks the end of a project which saw Network Rail engineers deliver an incredible feat installing an 11,000t concrete tunnel, freeing up tracks and unlocking new opportunities for rail freight.”
The new tunnel has been called a ‘UK first for engineering’.
In January this year, engineers placed the 11,000t curved concrete tunnel under the existing railway.
This ‘curved box’ structure, which is 155m long, 9.5m wide and 5.1m high, with 1m thick walls, was constructed next to the East Coast Main Line in nine unified portions.
In July this year, the new line placed inside the tunnel was joined with the current tracks.
Later in September, work in connection with the deployment of the signalling system was commissioned.
Trials were then conducted on the new tunnel, allowing trains to use the infrastructure.