Major milestone for the Northumberland Line as work takes place on last and largest underpass

Cutting-edge technology is being used to create the last and largest underpass on the Northumberland Line.
Underpass work in progress.Underpass work in progress.
Underpass work in progress.

The major five-day operation, which will vastly increase safety by replacing the current pedestrian crossing point, has involved closing the line which is currently used for freight for 100 hours while engineers work round the clock.

The cutting will divert the existing Public Right of Way through the underpass structure finishing by joining back into an existing underpass under the Metro lines.

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A self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) is one of the stars of this stage of the work. It’s a giant multi-wheeled trailer used for transporting massive objects, from large bridge sections to spacecraft and any other objects that are too big or heavy for trucks.

The current crossing will be dug out before the SPMT carries the 400-tonne concrete underpass sections into place. The line will then be re-laid on top.

During the operation some 2,500 cubic metres of material will be excavated before the three-part underpass is installed and backfilled with 1,750 cubic metres of earth.

Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson said: “This is another great milestone for the scheme and the scale of the technology and equipment being used is really something to see.

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“Day and night work is taking place to bring this fantastic line back into passenger use and these are key parts of the infrastructure to ensure it’s a smooth and safe experience for everyone.”

Tony Lloyd, senior project manager with primary contractor Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, said: “We're delighted to be working alongside Northumberland County Council and other partners to deliver these improvements to the Northumberland Line demonstrating our commitment to connecting people and places through innovative and responsible infrastructure.

“We’re also excited about continuing our work with local schools and the community as part of this project to create a lasting legacy.”

The underpass creation is the latest milestone on work to restore passenger services between Ashington and Newcastle from summer 2024.

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The completed line will see brand new stations built at Ashington, Bedlington, Bebside, Blyth Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park, along with miles of track relaid and a host of new infrastructure.

Once complete, passengers will enjoy a journey time between Newcastle and Ashington of just 35 minutes, with services operating regularly seven days a week.