Home » Pipeline partners all set to tunnel beneath the Tees river

Pipeline partners all set to tunnel beneath the Tees river

by Mark Cantrell
A North East construction company is set to begin an innovative tunnelling operation under the river Tees to minimise disruption that might otherwise be caused by installing a new water pipeline.

A North East construction company is set to begin an innovative tunnelling operation under the river Tees to minimise disruption that might otherwise be caused by installing a new water pipeline.

Farrans Construction is working on Northumbrian Water’s pipeline project between County Durham and Tees Valley. A 220m tunnel will be bored beneath the river, near Barnard Castle, to enable a new £155m water pipeline to be constructed, while protecting the watercourse and the wildlife that relies upon it.

Northumbrian Water’s Project Pipeline: County Durham and Tees Valley will see the construction of around 57km of new pipes connecting Lartington Water Treatment Works with around 200,000 customers across the south of the North East.

A specialist tunnel boring machine will begin its journey between two specially constructed shafts. This will create a pathway beneath the river, through which the new pipes will be installed.

James Dawes, Northumbrian Water’s project manager said: “This project has been years in the planning, and ensuring that key strategic crossings, such as the River Tees, are done in the best way possible for the local environment and communities, has been vital.

“While it would have been possible to cross the Tees using a pipe-bridge, we had to consider such factors as how this would impact the stunning Teesdale landscape that will be here long after our team have completed the project and moved on.

“The use of no dig techniques, tunnelling or directional drilling, is becoming increasingly common in our projects, to reduce the impact on our region’s road and rail networks by reducing the need to dig long trenches.

“However, this is the first time we have employed it to cross a large river and the teams at Farrans and Joseph Gallagher Limited have done a great job in creating these massive shafts to make this possible.”

Phase 1 of the project will connect Lartington, in Upper Teesdale, with Whorley Hill and Shildon, County Durham, and will be followed by a second phase extending the pipeline from Whorley Hill to Long Newton, connecting to the existing network that serves large parts of Teesside.

In recent months, work has been carried out by main contractors Farrans and subcontractors Joseph Gallagher, to create the two shafts, one on either side of the river.

Dave Mellor, contracts director for Farrans, said: “This is an exciting time for the project team as we begin this highly-technical operation under the river. The Western shaft is eight metres in diameter and 32 metres deep, while the Eastern shaft is 7.5 metres in diameter and 46 metres deep, the difference being due to the rising topography on the East bank.

“A 221-tonne concrete base has been constructed in each shaft – a volume equivalent to 15 wagons of concrete. The 220m journey beneath the Tees will take up to six weeks to complete, going from East to West, before a large crane will lift the machine back out of the Eastern shaft.”


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