Track improvements of one of the oldest railway tunnels in the world on the line between Manchester and Leeds

Network Rail will soon begin modernization work on the track through one of the oldest railway tunnels in the world. The 180-year-old Summit Tunnel is on the line between Rochdale and Hebden Bridge.

Replacement work on more than 3 km of track will take place this fall as part of a £ 2million Great North Rail project.

The tunnel is 2.6 km long and was built between 1838 and 1841 and is part of the Manchester to Leeds Railway.

The work takes place from Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 October and the line will be closed during the nine days of the work.

Credit: Rail network

Replacement rail buses will operate between Rochdale and Hebden Bridge, weekend replacement buses between Manchester and Rochdale, as well as between Hebden Bridge, Burnley Manchester Road and Accrington stations.

Passengers planning to travel along the route are advised to plan their trip in advance on the National Rail Inquiries website.

Karen Hornby, North West Network Rail Performance and Customer Relations Manager, said: “We appreciate the patience of passengers as we make these vital improvements to the Summit Tunnel as part of the Great North Rail Project. The work will reduce train delays on the Calder Valley Line and make the tracks inside the Victorian building structure fit for the 21st century.

“However, replacing a trail like this means we have no choice but to close the line so the old sections are torn up and replaced with new ones. I urge anyone considering traveling during the nine-day railroad shutdown to check national railroad surveys to find out exactly what to expect from their trips.

Chris Jackson, Regional Manager at Northern, said: “The work done by Network Rail is vital and will provide our customers with an even more reliable railroad.

“We apologize for any disruption during the upgrades and our customers can rest assured that Northern and Network Rail will do everything possible to minimize the impact of the work and provide alternatives that keep people moving. “

Work is also underway to modernize a culvert that runs under the tracks and Network Rail is working in partnership with the Environment Agency as part of their flood protection plans in the region.

Nick Pearson, Senior Flood Risk Advisor with the Environment Agency, said: “Work in partnership with Network Rail on the Rochdale and Littleborough flood risk management program proposed by £ 56million will make a huge difference to rail passengers, residents and the local economy.

“This project, one of the largest flood mitigation programs in the north of England, will play a crucial role in better protecting the community from flood risks and we are delighted to see it progressing.”

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