Weekend closures between Manchester and Bolton to complete Farnworth Tunnel upgrade: Farnworth tunnel-11

Thursday 21 Jan 2016

Weekend closures between Manchester and Bolton to complete Farnworth Tunnel upgrade

London North Western

Passengers were reminded today to allow extra time for their journeys over the next two weekends when the line between Bolton and Manchester shuts so engineers can finish work on the newly enlarged Farnworth Tunnel.

As part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, Farnworth Tunnel, near Bolton, has been enlarged to accommodate two electrified lines. On Monday 14 December a full timetable was restored between Bolton and Manchester - but a speed restriction, which allowed trains to continue running during the upgrade, remained in place.

To complete the job and allow speed restrictions to be lifted, Network Rail needs to use specialist equipment requiring the line to be shut to trains.

A two-stage solution, which minimises the impact on customers, was agreed by the Network Rail and train companies Trans-Pennine Express and Northern Rail: two weekend closures on 23 and 24, and 30 and 31 January.

Nick Spall, route delivery director at Network Rail, said: “Farnworth Tunnel is an extremely complex engineering scheme in our Railway Upgrade Plan. These closures will give us the opportunity to remove the temporary track layout that was installed to enable train services to continue running while we rebuilt Farnworth Tunnel. Once this has happened we can remove the speed restriction and train services will be back to normal again.

“Over the next two weekends we’re asking customers to bear with us and allow extra time for their journeys. I would like to thank passengers and local residents for their patience throughout  the project.”

Alex Hynes, Managing Director for Northern Rail, said: ”These final two weekends of work are the definitive pieces of the Farnworth Tunnel scheme which will go on to enable future electrification in the region. Our services will return to line speed and 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 project and we’d like to thank them for their continued support.”

First TransPennine Express Interim Managing Director Liz Collins said: "It’s great to see the Farnworth Tunnel upgrade nearing completion. We know it’s been a frustrating time for our customers and staff while these essential works are carried out and we apologise for the further inconvenience to customers over the next two weekends with our services between Manchester and Preston being amended. We are encouraging all customers to check their journey before they travel to see if their journey will be impacted by these works.”

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About Network Rail

Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 36,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.

About the Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:

  • longer, faster more frequent trains;
  • better, more reliable infrastructure; and
  • better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

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