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An aerial view of the Werrington Grade separation project, pictured covered in snow

Werrington Grade Separation

Delivering the UK’s first ever curved ‘jacked box’ portal to increase capacity of the rail network


Customer: Network Rail

Location: Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

Value: £160m

Completion: 2021

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precast concrete box

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cost savings delivered

This project will increase capacity in the area north of Peterborough station, identified as a bottleneck in Network Rail’s Line of Route Capacity Report (2012), due to slower freight trains having to cross the high speed East Coast Main Line (ECML) at Werrington Junction.

Delivering a new ‘dive-under’ track (where one set of tracks tunnels underneath another) will provide an alternative route for freight trains, meaning they no longer need to cross the ECML.

Our team's scope includes the construction of a 160 metre curved jacked dive-under below the ECML, twin-bore tunnelling, culvert and river diversions, new footbridge installation, existing bridge modifications, 2 kilometres of piling, track slewing, and various other associated works. The work is being delivered in close proximity to an electrified railway line (OLE), 132kv overhead power lines and a live railway.

Project fact

This is the first curved jacked portal push in the UK. At 11,000 tonnes, the precast concrete box forming the tunnel weighs more than the Eiffel Tower.

Learn more

This video explains the technical aspects of the project and features interviews with key members of the team.

“The scale and complexity of the engineering on this site is immense. Amazing job Morgan Sindall Infrastructure and Network Rail teams.”

Rob Cairns, Network Rail Capital Delivery Director, Eastern Region (via LinkedIn)

Making a difference

We proposed an innovative alternative solution during the tender that became a UK first, and avoided an elevated aspect of work within a relatively low-lying vicinity. The solution involved planning a curved jacked box around and under the live railway.

We also conducted substantial value engineering during the early contractor involvement (ECI) phase, delivering savings of £10.5 million.

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