Historic Summit Tunnel Receives Essential Upgrades to Enhance Rail Network Reliability and Flood Protection

Posted on 22 October 2021

This weekend marks the commencement of a significant endeavour that will bring essential upgrades to one of the world's oldest railway tunnels, located between Rochdale and Hebden Bridge. This project is a vital component of the Great North Rail Project, a comprehensive investment totalling £2 million. Network Rail is undertaking the task of replacing the track inside the Summit Tunnel, a remarkable structure that has stood for 180 years, for a period of nine days starting on Saturday, October 23. With a length of 2.6 kilometres, this tunnel holds a historical significance as it was originally built between 1838 and 1841 as an integral part of the Manchester and Leeds railway, a testament to the rich heritage of the region's transportation system.

As with any endeavour of this magnitude, the execution of the necessary upgrade work demands the complete closure of the tracks passing through the tunnel. Karen Hornby, Network Rail's esteemed North West head of performance and customer relationship, expressed sincere gratitude towards the passengers for their unwavering patience throughout these essential improvements to the Summit Tunnel. She emphasised the positive impact the project will have on reducing train delays along the Calder Valley line while simultaneously bringing the tracks within this iconic tunnel up to the standards of the 21st century. By modernising the infrastructure, the aim is to create a more efficient and reliable railway system that can cater to the demands of contemporary transportation needs. Aware of the inconveniences caused by the temporary closure, Hornby urged all travellers intending to commute during the nine-day railway hiatus to consult the reliable and informative resource of National Rail Enquiries. By keeping themselves updated with the latest information, passengers can ensure they are well-prepared and can plan their journeys accordingly, taking into account the necessary adjustments due to the upgrade work.

Chris Jackson, the esteemed Northern regional director, expressed his appreciation for the patience and understanding of the passengers, acknowledging the potential disruptions that may occur during the improvement process. He reassured customers that both Northern and Network Rail are fully committed to minimizing any inconveniences caused by the upgrade work. Dedicated efforts will be made to provide alternative options and arrangements that will facilitate the smooth movement of people during this period of necessary railway closure. The primary goal is to keep the passengers on the move, prioritizing their convenience and comfort while ensuring the successful completion of the upgrades.

In addition to the significant improvements taking place within the Summit Tunnel, Network Rail has embarked on a collaborative venture with the esteemed Environment Agency to tackle a broader flood defence project in the picturesque region of Littleborough. As part of this ambitious initiative, a culvert situated beneath the railway lines will undergo substantial upgrades to enhance its resilience and efficiency. The collaboration with the Environment Agency for the proposed £56 million Rochdale and Littleborough Flood Risk Management Scheme stands as a testament to the commitment of both entities to ensuring the safety and well-being of the local community. Nick Pearson, a senior flood risk advisor at the Environment Agency, conveyed the paramount importance of this partnership. He highlighted the transformative impact this comprehensive flood alleviation scheme will have on various aspects of the region, including the welfare of rail passengers, residents, and the local economy. By bolstering flood protection measures and adopting a holistic approach, this initiative will play a vital role in safeguarding the community from the risks associated with flooding, bolstering their resilience and overall well-being.

The commencement of the essential upgrade work within the Summit Tunnel signifies a significant milestone in the development of the railway infrastructure between Rochdale and Hebden Bridge. The subsequent improvements will not only lead to reduced train delays and increased efficiency on the Calder Valley line but will also ensure that this historic structure is equipped to meet the demands of the modern era. Furthermore, the collaboration between Network Rail and the Environment Agency demonstrates their shared commitment to safeguarding the local community from the risks of flooding, highlighting their dedication to the welfare and prosperity of the region. By undertaking these vital upgrades, both entities are paving the way for a more resilient, efficient, and secure transportation network, setting a solid foundation for the future.



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