Full speed ahead through the upgraded Farnworth Tunnel: Trains at full speed through newly-enlarged Farnworth Tunnel – Feb 2016(Courtesy of Graeme Bickerdyke)

Monday 1 Feb 2016

Full speed ahead through the upgraded Farnworth Tunnel

Region & Route:
| National
| North West & Central

Trains between Manchester and Bolton will be travelling at full speed through Farnworth Tunnel this week after engineering work took place over the weekend, paving the way for an electrified railway.

As part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, a new tunnel at Farnworth, near Bolton, has been built to accommodate two electrified lines.

Over the past two weekends specialist equipment has been brought in to remove the temporary track layout that was installed to allow train services to continue running during the upgrade work.

Today (Monday 1 February) trains were able to run more quickly through the area after the orange army successfully completed track work. Follow up work due to take place this week will remove the final speed restriction meaning trains will be able to run through the tunnel at the original 75mph.

Nick Spall, route delivery director at Network Rail, said: “Farnworth Tunnel has been an extremely complex engineering scheme as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan and I am really proud of the work our engineers have delivered. The new, bigger tunnel complete with new track marks the next step in our plans to electrify the line which will mean faster and more reliable trains for passengers.

“This work has been disruptive and I would like to personally thank passengers and local residents for their patience throughout the project.”

Andrew Jones, Transport Minister said: “The work at Farnworth Tunnel is a big step forward in our plans to cut journey times and deliver better journeys for customers travelling between Manchester, Bolton and Preston by the end of next year. The completion of this stage of work marks significant progress in improving connections for these cities, which form part of the bedrock of the Northern Powerhouse.

We are determined to close the economic gap between north and south, and improving our railways and roads is helping the north of England unleash its full power. Farnworth is one important part of multi-billion pound investment in transport in the north, which this one nation government is delivering.”

Alex Hynes, managing director for Northern Rail, said: “Now the Farnworth Tunnel project is complete, we can start planning for a new and exciting phase of electrification in the north west. Our customers and staff have been fantastic throughout this scheme and we’d like to thank them for their support and patience.”

A spokeswoman for First TransPennine Express said: “It’s great to see these works completed that will allow speed restrictions lifted on our services. We know the project caused some service alterations and we would like to thank our customers and our staff for their patience. These improvement works are part of a significant investment programme in the rail network which will allow our trains to run faster and more frequently between the major northern cities and towns.”

Yasmin Quireshi, MP for Bolton south-east, said: “The completion of the tunnel is a big step towards getting the service Bolton deserves. As a regular commuter myself, I see first-hand the importance a fast and reliable train service has in all areas of our lives. I welcome the end to the extensive disruption we have all had to endure over the past months, but I want to commend the work of all the engineers working hard to get the best deal for Bolton.”

For the latest travel information on trains on this route visit www.nationalrail.co.uk

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About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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