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Rail infrastructure case study – Farnworth Tunnel

The North West Electrification Programme is a series of upgrades to the rail infrastructure in the north of England. Led by Network Rail, the primary aims of the multi-billion pound programme were to improve connectivity, reduce journey times and improve capacity.
Rail infrastructure case study – Farnworth Tunnel

Project Overview

Work began on a nine-month project to accommodate new overhead power lines at the Farnworth Tunnel in Bolton for Murphy’s. Part of the electrification of the Manchester to Preston route, the £20.8 million project saw one of two existing single-track tunnels re-bored as a twin-track tunnel providing the necessary clearance for the power lines.

The new 295 yard (270m) tunnel was cut using a tunnel boring machine called Shield while the other tunnel was filled with foam concrete to provide stability.

Value adding benefits (headline stats and figures).

From the early stages of the project Ainscough Crane Hire was on-site to help with the logistical aspects of manoeuvring materials, equipment, and even people at the site. As part of a long-term contract the team erected batching plants that mixed the foaming concrete used to fill the tunnel before it was re-bored, in addition to safely lifting workmen and women down an access shaft located on a road bridge above the tunnel.

Safety was paramount whilst working on this project, given the site was immediately adjacent to a live railway line. Before the project began, there was no access to the site for Ainscough to set up a 750 tonne all-terrain mobile crane, a Liebherr LTM 1750-9.1. A highway-standard slip road was constructed by main contractor J Murphy to link the site to the road bridge enabling the crane to be positioned.

Because of the proximity of the working rail line, a series of safety precautions were initiated including setting slew restrictions on the mobile crane so it didn’t interfere with the live track.

In addition to this mobile crane, the requirements of project also necessitated a further heavy crane, so our Heavy Cranes Division supplied one of its 750-tonne all-terrain mobile cranes to assist in the assembly of the tunnel boring machine, which was supplied in 15 separate sections by Tunnel Engineering Services.

The machine was delivered to the site on 12 lorry loads. With the heaviest section weighing 61 tonnes, the full machine took six days and nights to fully assemble.

Further Details

As part of our services for this contract lift, Ainscough Crane Hire provided multiple units alongside industry-leading expertise throughout the 9 month period until the project was reopened, and reported zero accidents or incidents throughout the high-profile project.

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