24th March 2014
A full train service has resumed between York and Blackpool North, and between Leeds and Manchester Victoria.
Repairs which saw more than 3,000 tonnes of concrete used to strengthen a vital rail tunnel in the north west of England have been completed.
Holme Tunnel, on the line between Burnley and Hebden Bridge, reopened to passenger services this morning (24 March) after a 20 week closure to carry out essential improvement work.
The 250m tunnel had become increasingly misaligned over time because of local ground movement which had distorted the tunnel walls.
Network Rail realigned and strengthened large sections of the tunnel's walls and re-laid more than two kilometres 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.
"The upgrade and new track will help to provide a more reliable railway and provide passengers with a quieter and smoother journey. The investment is part of Network Rail's commitment to provide a safer and more efficient railway and I'd like to thank passengers for their understanding while this essential work was carried out."
Alex Hynes, managing director for Northern Rail, added: "The reopening of Holme Tunnel and the resumption of train services between Burnley and Hebden Bridge is cause for celebration among our customers. Not only will it reconnect the north west of our network with Yorkshire, but it also a fantastic engineering achievement for our colleagues at Network Rail. The improvements help us deliver a better, more reliable service, reinforcing our commitment to Northern being an on-time railway."
To complete the upgrade, the strengthened tunnel required:
Between Saturday 9 November 2013 and Sunday 23 March 2014, Network Rail carried out major engineering work in Holme Tunnel to strengthen and repair the tunnel, meaning that trains were not able to run between Hebden Bridge and Burnley Manchester Road.
It was important that this engineering work took place as the ground surrounding the tunnel has moved and the walls of the tunnel have become distorted. Before the work was completed there was a 20 mph speed limit for trains going through the tunnel; the speed limit has now been raised to 45 mph and ensures that train services can continue running along this route.