Weekend closure before full train timetable to resume between Manchester and Bolton on Monday 14 December: Farnworth tunnel-12

Tuesday 8 Dec 2015

Weekend closure before full train timetable to resume between Manchester and Bolton on Monday 14 December

Region & Route:
| North West & Central

Network Rail is reminding passengers to plan their journeys this weekend before services on the route between Manchester and Bolton return to a full timetable on Monday 14 December.*

As part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, Farnworth Tunnel, near Bolton, is being enlarged to accommodate two electrified lines. Following the tunneling breakthrough on 25 October, Network Rail has continued to work with train operators to reinstate normal passenger services as soon as possible.

The weekend closure of the route on 12-13 December will see the new tracks brought into use through the new tunnel. There will initially be a speed restriction on this new section of railway, which will be removed after some further work in the new year. This will require an additional closure of the railway in January. Full details will be confirmed as soon as possible.

Nick Spall, route delivery director at Network Rail, said: “Farnworth Tunnel is an extremely complex engineering challenge being delivered as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. Since breaking through to complete the tunnel we have been putting in tracks and completing work at Farnworth station. This closure will give us the opportunity connect the new tracks and open both lines through the tunnel. This will mean we can resume a full timetable for passengers on this key route, and I would like to thank passengers and local residents for their patience so far.”

Nick Donovan, managing director, First TransPennine Express, said: "It’s fantastic to see this major piece of work nearing completion. We apologise for the inconvenience caused during the project and the further service alternation planned for this weekend. It’s been a difficult time for our customers and our staff, but we understand these works are necessary to complete the Farnworth Tunnel upgrade."

Alex Hynes, Managing Director for Northern Rail, said: “Our customers will be thrilled to see services return through the newly developed Farnworth Tunnel. We’d like to thank our customers and employees for their patience during this complex project. We’re looking forward to being able to share the benefits of electrification in the North West with our customers.”

Councillor Andrew Fender, chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “The fact that the tunnelling at Farnworth is now complete and services on the Manchester to Preston line are returning to full timetable is excellent news for commuters and rail users in Bolton and far beyond.

“This significant feat of civil engineering represents an integral landmark in the programme to electrify several railway routes across the north of England, which will deliver some important benefits for passengers, such as shorter journey times, better trains and more connections to more places.”

To complete the project Network Rail needed to find a date when specialist equipment is available, and balance this with the need to minimise disruption to passengers. The two-stage solution was agreed by the rail industry after considering all the options available to them.

Over 30,000 tonnes of material have been removed from the 270m-long tunnel, with 1,940 concrete sections put in place.

* While trains have been running in both directions on a single line, services have been less frequent but more carriages have been added to trains to maintain the usual level of capacity. Returning to a normal timetable from Monday 14 December will enable Northern Rail to restore train service frequency and station calls as well as provide longer trains.

Contact information

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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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