Ulleskelf Mires Tunnels Installation

The Transpennine Route Upgrade celebrated a triple tunnel triumph in August 2023 with the successful drilling of three new drainage tunnels beneath the line at Ulleskelf Mires in North Yorkshire.

In the UK’s first operation of its kind, three tunnel boring machines worked simultaneously side by side beneath the four-track Transpennine main line nine miles south of York.

The TRU East Alliance completed the mammoth task in just 54 hours, safely drilling below two lines in turn to keep the operational railway open to trains and passengers for the maximum amount of time, keeping disruption to a minimum.

The three tunnels, each 17.8 metres long and 1.8 metres in diameter, replace two 179 year old brick arches, which were built on poor ground conditions and were life expired.

The team carefully planned the installation to take place during the summer to ensure a successful completion as the area is within a flood plain. The work will improve drainage for the future and will allow for more frequent, faster, heavier trains going forward.

In total, the three machines, named Katherine, Nicola and Emma after the three project managers on the scheme, removed 615 tonnes of earth. Tamper trains were ready on standby to ensure the tracks above were in perfect condition and the railway was fully re-opened to trains on time.