Winchburgh Tunnel Construction: Finally Finished after Enhanced Safety and Construction Measures

Anyone who has ever worked in road construction – especially when it comes to tunnel repair and construction – will undoubtedly say that this type of work is only for the strong and courageous. It also takes a great degree of knowledge and meticulous attention to detail; if anything goes wrong, a lot could be at stake – not only when it comes to scheduling and traffic issues, but safety and security as well.

Extensive work on the Winchburgh Tunnel is finally completed

Extensive work on the Winchburgh Tunnel is finally completed

The Winchburgh Tunnel, which serves as the main railway line between Glasgow’s Queen Street and Edinburgh, has long been an iconic structure in this part of the country. In fact, its construction was supervised by none other than John Gibb, the renowned civil engineer. But recently, work started on its repair and refurbishment as part of the £742 million EGIP, or Edinburg Glasgow Improvement Programme. The Winchburgh Tunnel repairs accounted for a budget of around £17 million from the programme. Incidentally, Winchburgh, the town from which the Tunnel takes its name, is only around 16 kilometres from Edinburgh’s city centre, around 9 kilometres away from Linlithgow, and approximately 4 kilometres from another village, Broxburn.


The work carried out on the Winchburgh Tunnel

The work which was carried out on the Tunnel was extensive indeed. Special engineers and teams worked in constant 24-hour shifts in order to re-lay and lower track through the Winchburgh Tunnel, which measures 330 metres long. Alongside the re-laying of track and the lowering of track, workers also had to install a variety of equipment which would enable the line to be electrified.


The problems encountered – and the solutions

However, some problems were evident from day one. The conditions in the Winchburgh Tunnel affected various workers, especially when it came to the quality of the air. Arrangements had to be made in order to preserve the quality of the air in the Tunnel. Communications were also a difficulty, and a communications system that is commonly used in the mining sector was also put in place so the workers and teams could adequately communicate with each other.

Yet another problem came up as well – health screening quickly became a priority, especially since workers had an increased risk of acquiring Weil’s disease, primarily from the presence of rodents within the Tunnel itself. Additionally, other health and safety issues cropped up. Due to these, changes were made, first in the length of the shifts of the workers, and next in the planning of the workers’ rest days. Workers also had to reduce their exposure to a syndrome known as hand-arm vibration syndrome with the careful and detailed selection of plant. The project managers also had to make use of more automated equipment and processes just to increase the safety of the workers and reduce their risks whilst working in the Tunnel.

In the end, the numbers said it all: two thousand cubic metres of soil was removed, a thousand cubic metres of concrete was poured, 940 metres of pre-cast slabs (concrete) were installed, and 825 metres of drainage was successfully laid. After all the hard work and effort, the Winchburgh Tunnel was finally reopened – right on schedule, as well – after it was closed for a total of 44 days.



Image attributed to adamr/ 

Posted on 11 Jan 2016 in News

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