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Transpennine route upgrade: geotechnical lecture

Event organised by ICE

08 November 2022

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The Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) is a transformative, multi-billion pound railway programme that will better connect passengers in the North between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and York. TRU will transform the route into a high-performing, reliable railway, bringing more frequent, more reliable, faster, greener trains.

There are significant geotechnical challenges with upgrading a busy line that runs over the Pennines, not least the topography, former coal mining risks and existing poor condition earthwork assets, but also undertaking ground investigation and construction works within the constraint of a near 24-hour rail timetable.

Full electrification of the 70 mile long route presents an efficiency challenge for geotechnical design and construction.

Focussing on TRU Project W3, a major milestone was achieved in summer 2022 with the granting of a Transport and Works Act Order for the proposed scheme.

There are several large structures proposed in W3, such as the 350m long Baker Viaduct, which has 10 piers crossing the Hebbel and Calder Navigation Canal, and the River Calder. Also proposing construction of an 8m high embankment across a former inert landfill that is 15m deep filled with inert waste and asbestos; which presents a challenge to provide a solution to limit costly contaminative arisings while also being a practical solution.

Detailed mining risk assessments have been used to develop a pragmatic solution to mitigating risk through hazard, consequence and safety considerations, applied to specific areas.


Sue Thomson

Sue Thomson


senior engineering geologist

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Sue Thomson

Sue is a Chartered Geologist and Principal Engineering Geologist with 15 years of experience. She is leading mining assessments and mitigation design on TRU Project W3 and supporting the ongoing ground investigation works.

For more information please contact:

Joanne Topping