Most of the rail infrastructure firm’s 335km of tunnels were constructed as brick lined structures in the Victorian era and are proving costly and time-consuming to upkeep.
Network Rail said that present labour intensive methods requiring long blockades were no longer sustainable in the face of the growing backlog of repairs and the need to reduce track access and increasing train operations.
Major enhancement projects that increase gauge or upgrade electrification in tunnels are also piling up pressure to develop new approaches and technologies.
Network Rail is now to carry out an in depth feasibility study to understand how significant improvements can be achieved.
Innovative Low Disruption Tunnel Renewals project
- How tunnel re-lining can be carried out without the need for long blockades;
- How rail traffic would pass through the works while considering both single and double track tunnels;
- What enabling works will be required (whole railway system);
- How electrification both 3rd rail and OHLE and other services would be accommodated;
- Invert reconstruction;
- New linings using current modern construction materials i.e. shotcrete or segmental;
- Adaptation of machine for differing relining scenarios
Assistant Procurement Manager in the Technology team Alex Jerome is co-ordinating the project for Network Rail.