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Summit Tunnel improvements will mean rail disruption

Saturday, 18 September 2021

At 180 years, Summit Tunnel is one of the world's oldest railway tunnels and this Autumn Network Rail is upgrading tracks through the tunnel between Todmorden and Littleborough.

More than 3km of track across both railway lines will be replaced inside the 2.6-kilometre-long tunnel, which was built between 1838 and 1841 as part of the Manchester and Leeds railway.

The £2m Great North Rail Project investment by Network Rail will take place between 23 and 31 October.

For the essential work to take place, the railway will be closed for nine days.

From Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 October rail replacement buses will be in operation to keep passengers on the move between Hebden Bridge and Rochdale. At weekends, buses will also replace trains between Manchester and Rochdale as well as between Hebden Bridge, Burnley Manchester Road and Accrington stations.

Karen Hornby, Network Rail’s North West head of performance and customer relationship, said: “We appreciate passengers' patience while we carry out these vital improvements to Summit tunnel as part of the Great North Rail Project. The work will mean fewer train delays on the Calder valley line and make tracks inside the Victorian-built structure fit for the 21st century.

“However, replacing track like this means we have no choice but to close the line for old sections to be ripped up and replaced with new. I’d urge anyone planning to travel over the nine-day railway closure to check National Rail Enquiries to they know exactly what to expect from their journeys.”

Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern said: "The work being carried out by Network Rail is vital and will provide our customers with an even more reliable railway.”

"We are sorry for any disruption during the improvements and our customers can be assured that both Northern and Network Rail will do everything possible to minimise the impact of the work and deliver alternatives that keep people on the move.” Network Rail is also working in partnership with the Environment Agency which will be upgrading a culvert beneath the railway lines as part of a wider flood defence project in the area*.

Nick Pearson, senior flood risk advisor with the Environment Agency, said: “Working in partnership with Network Rail as part of the proposed £56m Rochdale and Littleborough Flood Risk Management Scheme will make a huge difference to rail passengers, residents and the local economy.

“This project, one of the biggest flood alleviation schemes in the north of England, will play a crucial role in better protecting the community from the risk of flooding and we are pleased to see it progress.”