We’re increasing capacity for passenger trains on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) by building a new two-track railway line that dives under the ECML.
The fly through video below visualises how the new dive under will look when in operation.
What are we doing?
The project is a part of the wider East Coast Upgrade Programme in which we are trying to increase the number of passenger seats on the East Coast Mainline (ECML).
The new line, located just North of Peterborough, will remove constraints to the timetable caused by slower freight trains on the Great North Great Eastern (GNGE) route crossing over the high-speed East Coast lines at Werrington Junction.
A new dive under provides an alternative route by enabling the new two track railway to run underneath the ECML, separating it from any high speed passenger traffic.
The project has several phases and associated key milestones, the first of these milestones is the Stamford Slews.
The Stamford Slews relocated the two Stamford Lines approx. 30m to the west, generating space between the Stamford Lines and the ECML to allow construction of the Southern ramp.
The Stamford Slews phase of works was completed in early January 2020, with critical disruptive works achieved over the Christmas 2019 period.
Works included 3,580m of new track, associated overhead lines, signalling and telecoms. As well as a significant number of enabling stages:
Cock Lane Footbridge
Replacement of the existing Cock Lane Footbridge with a wider span to accommodate the new alignment of the Stamford Lines. The new footbridge also included ramps, making the structure compliant with the Equality Act 2010.
The footbridge opened in November 2019.
Brook Drain River
840m re-alignment of Brook Drain river, north of Cock Lane Footbridge, to accommodate the build of the new Stamford Lines.
The newly aligned river has been designed to help with local flooding issues.
The design also features riffles – shallow sections of water – and side pools, where aquatic wildlife can take refuge during storm surges. Soft bank ledges have also been installed to help vegetation grows, with existing vegetation transferred to help maintain a habitat for the rare Four Spotted moth on the riverbank.
The diversion of a further 500m section of Brook Drain river, south of the new footbridge was also required.
This location was constrained by running parallel to 132kV overhead power lines and a large commercial estate. The designed solution enabled the new Stamford Lines to sit on top of a cast in situ concrete box culvert which carries the relocated river.
The position of the old Hurn Road clashed with the proposed route of the new Dive-under Lines. In order to progress works, the project worked closely with Peterborough City Council to agree a new route for Hurn Road, which would makes way for the new Dive-under Lines, whilst continuing to provide access and egress to the properties along the old Hurn Road.
Works to Hurn Road were completed in late 2019, allowing works to construct the north ramp to continue.
A temporary 61m footbridge has been installed alongside the existing Lincoln Road Bridge.
This temporary structure, installed in late Autumn of 2019, will allow users of the existing bridge, including a number of utilities, to be temporarily diverted across the new structure.
Whilst the temporary Lincoln Road Bridge is used, works will be able to commence with installing an additional span to the existing Lincoln Road Bridge, which will allow the new Dive-under Lines to run underneath it.
Once works are complete, all users will be able to use the extended existing bridge again.
Milestones in progress
Despite the national lockdown, work has been progressing well to complete our next major phase of works, completing civils works to support the dive-under’s north and south ramps and installing the dive-under structure itself.
Changes to working procedures and processes, as well as some innovative thinking has allowed our colleagues to continue to work safely throughout lockdown.
Several key milestones in delivering this next phase have already been completed with many more under progress.
The Drone footage below shows the actual works completed up to 14 August 2020. This footage follows the path of the trains heading north and across towards Spalding on the GNGE lines.
Drone footage credit: Network Rail Air Operations team.
Lincoln Road Bridge
Whilst the temporary Lincoln Road Bridge is in use, works have continued on the installation of an additional span to the existing Lincoln Road Bridge, which will allow the new Dive-under Lines to run underneath it. All the necessary piling has been completed and on 26th August 2020, the new bridge beams were swung into place.
Once all works on the existing Lincoln Road Bridge are complete, the temporary bridge will be removed and the newly extended bridge will be open to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
The north ramp has been constructed by installing 183 x 18 metre-long, 900mm diameter, rotary bored contiguous piles and over 900 x eight to 10 metre-long soil nails, finished with sprayed concrete facing. In total 120,000m3 of soil and clay has been excavated to create one of two 940 metre ramps.
In February 2020, our Tunnel Boring Machine (‘TBM’), named ‘Chloe and Georgia Whiteman’ after the daughters of Mark Whiteman, a colleague, who tragically passed away unexpectedly in 2019, was launched into the ground to begin the work of boring two three and a half metre diameter, 168 metre-long guide tunnels underneath the operational railway.
Thanks to the state of art remote track monitoring equipment which constantly measured the position of tracks, tunnelling was successfully completed, unnoticed by the trains passing above on the at the start of August 2020.
The tunnels are now in the process of being fitted out with the required guide plates to support the pushing of the ‘curved box’ into position under the ECML.
South Ramp and South Dive Under Entrance
Mirroring the north ramp, a second 940 metre ramp is being constructed to the south of the dive-under, in the enlarged area made by the slewing the Stamford Lines.
The Reception Pit, which was used to receive and recover the TBM from the ground, was completed in April 2020. Works included the installation of 66 x 18-meter-long bored contiguous piles and the excavation of over 2,000m3 of soil and clay.
Piling for the South Ramp was completed in August 2020, which has now allowed excavation of the ramps to commence. The South Ramp consists of 693no. 900mm diameter, bored contiguous piles up to 18m in length, and a further 340 metres of 10 metre sheet piles.
By relocating the Stamford Lines at an earlier stage, this has enabled the South Ramp to be constructed with no impact to the operational railway or passengers.
From March 2020 work began to build the dive-under structure.
The ‘curved box’ has been built up, next to the ECML in nine, interconnected sections. The structure is 155m long, 9.5m wide and 5.1m high, with 1m thick walls and soffit. It weighs just over 11,000 tonnes, with is 1,000 tonnes heavier than the Eiffel Tower!
The ‘curved box’ will be pushed under the ECML using large jacks to propel and steer it during a partial closure of the ECML, which is planned for January 2021.
The ‘box’ was built using a specialist sliding formwork system. When the concrete was cured for one section, the formwork was slid forward to the next pour and the process repeated as can be seen in the foreground.
There are two further phases planned for this project.
Work on the new track crossings to be installed on the GNGE and Stamford Lines began in August and will continue up to the end of November 2020 ready for full installation of the new Dive-under Lines and Up Stamford Line.
As these works require disruption of services on the GNGE and Stamford Lines, the project will prioritise only works that require the railway to be closed.
This approach will minimise disruption to rail users and passengers.
Following completion of all previous phases, the final phase of works will be the installation of the final track formation, track drainage and track which will form the new Dive-under Lines and the new Stamford Line.
At the same time, the temporary Up Stamford Line will be removed.
The new Werrington Dive-under lines will be ready for use from late 2021.
Keeping you informed
This project is one of the most significant on the ECML and involves major construction activity that has the potential to be disruptive to residents and businesses at specific points in time. We will write to everyone affected in advance of this type of work.
Unfortunately the series of community events have been cancelled due to Covid-19. We endeavour to re-start these as soon as possible. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.
For more information or to get in touch with us, please contact us by visiting our contact us page or by calling our 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.