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NCE Live News Updates Monday 24 March: Challenging tunnel scheme completed

Trains able to run through Holme Tunnel after 20-week closure

4pm: Guidelines for dealing with explosives are to be created for offshore construction projects.

Consltants Royal HaskoningDHV and 6 Alpha Associates are to carry out a research project for the Construction Industry Research and Information Association.

Unexploded World War Two sea mines, munitions dumps and former military testing sites can pose a threat to offshore energy schemes and the staff working on them.

The project will outline each type of unexploded ordnance and its corresponding threat; provide a framework for the assessment and management of the risks; identify the responsibilities and duties of different organisations; and pinpoint where professional advice from a specialist should be sought. 

“To date, there has been insufficient clarity and awareness concerning a number of key issues related to the safe management of UXO risk on marine construction projects,” said Simon Cooke, managing director of 6 Alpha Associates. 


3.30pm: Work has begun on an access road to an energy-from-waste plant in Buckinghamshire.

Civils firm Jones Bros is building the 4.5km road along a former railway track near the A41.

FCC Environment has a contract to build and operate the EfW facility at Greatmoor, near Calvert.

The plant is expected to be operational by early 2016 and will export 22MW of electricity per annum, sufficient to satisfy the energy demands of up to 36,000 homes.


1pm: Meanwhile Network Rail has revealed three options it is examining for a possible new route for the Great Western Main Line.

The rail operator has convened a group including the Department for Transport, the Environment Agency, councils and train operating companies to steer a review of three long-term options for making the coastal section of the route more resilient.

These three options are protecting the existing route; building a second line; and re-routing the main line.

Studies into a possible new line will focus on options including:

  • Reinstating the line between Plymouth and Exeter via Okehampton
  • Creating a line connecting existing freight routes from Alphington near Exeter and Heathfield near Newton Abbot.
  • Exploring inland options between Newton Abbot and Exeter

NCE reported last month on some leading suggestions for re-routing the line away from the coast.


12.30pm: A water cannon is being used to deal with a land slip in Devon that could threaten the re-opening of the Great Western Main Line.

Network Rail is using the high pressure tool to force fallen earth further down a cliff near Teignmouth and out to sea.

The rail body said this week was “critical” to ensure the obstacle would be cleared in time to allow the troubled line to re-open as planned on 4 April.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne told MPs in February that repairs at storm-damaged Dawlish were progressing well. But engineers became aware on 4 March that about 20,000 tonnes of the cliff face near Teignmouth had sheared away and slumped about 20m.

Read more and see images here.


11am: Campaigners for a new rail link between Brighton and Croydon have claimed support from Cabinet Office minister Greg Clark.

The group behind plans for Brighton Main Line 2 said Clark had written to rail minister Stephen Hammond about the benefits of a link from the planned line to Tunbridge Wells.

BML2 chairman Duncan Bennett said: “Greg Clark’s involvement is truly significant and I’m thrilled that such a powerful voice in Kent wishes to be part of this fantastic project for the South East.

“In particular, I very much hope that Kent’s councillors will give their full backing to the minister and now come on board as Tunbridge Wells and surrounding towns have so much to gain with BML2.”


10am: Trains are running through a repaired tunnel in North West England for the first time in 20 weeks.

The 250m Holme Tunnel, on the line between Burnley and Hebden Bridge, had become increasingly misaligned over time because of local ground movement.

Network Rail realigned and strengthened large sections of the tunnel’s walls and re-laid more than 2km of track within and on the approach to the tunnel.

Ian Joslin, area director for Network Rail, said: “It was a significant engineering challenge to repair and strengthen Holme Tunnel, which although safe for trains to use before the closure, had been significantly damaged over the years because of ground movement.

“On average more than 40 tonnes of new materials were used for every metre of reconstruction within the tunnel, a measure of the scale of the challenge and work undertaken.”

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