Upgrading the iconic 19th century grade II listed Standedge Aqueduct

Built originally in the 19th century, the Tunnel End Aqueduct, known locally as Standedge Aqueduct, carries water from Tunnel End Reservoir, over the Transpennine Railway and into the nearby River Colne.

The deconstruction of the existing aqueduct

Historic aqueduct renewed

Since spring 2018, alongside our contractor AMCO Rail, we have been undertaking a major project to replace the Aqueduct’s bridge deck with a new, more modern and more reliable structure.

Our contractor AMCO, started on site in early April to install site cabins, staff welfare facilities and a temporary scaffold structure around the Aqueduct, allowing our teams to work safely on the structure.

In June 2018, work took place to deconstruct the existing bridge deck,  lift the spillway steps and divert the watercourse over the temporary scaffold structure.

In July 2018, our teams successfully completed their work to lift in the first of two brand new fibre reinforced polymer bridge decks, during an overnight closure of the railway. Work to lift in the second bridge deck followed in mid-August.

A temporary scaffold bridge was built next to the aqueduct which held pipes that carried the watercourse over the railway, alongside other mitigations including the drawdown of a local reservoir and creating a temporary dam.

Preparing for the future

While undertaking the essential core renewal of the structure, our engineers have future proofed the design to incorporate the proposed potential future electrification of the Transpennine Railway between York/Selby and Manchester via Leeds. Find out more information on the Transpennine Route Upgrade.


During the 1950s, the structure spillway failed, bursting water on to the railway below, causing significant disruption and damage to the railway.  In 2010, temporary work was undertaken to line the structure, seen as a temporary repair in anticipation of the work in 2018.

Maintaining the heritage

Although we replaced the Wrought Iron bridge deck with a more modern FRP (Fibre-reinforced Polymer) solution, our specialist engineers worked with heritage organisations and the local authority to ensure the new bridge deck remains as beautiful and iconic as its predecessor. The replacement decks have fake rivets and bolts included in the design to ensure that the aqueduct did not look noticeably different and retained its character.

We also worked closely with other partners such as the Canal and Rivers Trust to reduce the impact of our work on their infrastructure.

Contact us

For any comments or questions regarding the project, please contact our 24-hour Network Rail national helpline on 03457 11 41 41 or visit our contact us page.