General News and Events, UK RAIL Engineering Information.

Tuesday, 26th January 2010, 17:31




  • Manchester to Preston electrification


  • We're electrifying one of the North West's busiest routes to allow faster trains with more space on board.

    To make room for overhead power lines, we need to reconstruct the Farnworth Tunnel; work has now started and revised train services are in place.

    To help you plan your journey view the timetables below. You can also see how many carriages your train will have at

    More information on services can be found on the updated Farnworth flyer.

    Detailed timetables are now available via the following links:

    Engineers have been working in Farnworth Tunnel and have so far achieved some fantastic milestones

    • Internal mesh frame, and concrete lining installed
    • Series of permanent ribs installed to support the tunnel
    • Bi-directional signalling and cross overs installed
    • Track removed from the up tunnel
    • New footbridge installed at Kearsley
    • Track drainage work carried out
    • Started the demolition of Farnworth train station
  • Electrification: Manchester to Preston via Bolton

    Faster direct links to cities and towns across the north of England are coming. To make this happen we are electrifying one of the North West's busiest routes to allow faster trains with more space for passengers.

    This is part of a wider investment to electrify around 300km of the rail network in the area, improving travel between Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, Blackpool, Leeds and York, which is vital to support the region's long-term economic growth.

    Over the next five years we'll be improving rail services and speeding up journeys in the region by electrifying routes, creating new rail links and improving stations.

    Farnworth tunnel improvements

    The reconstruction of Farnworth tunnel is an important stepping stone to an electrified railway. The existing tunnels are too small for the overhead lines, so we need to make one of them bigger.

    It's a complex engineering project: we need to fill in the big tunnel and then re-bore it using specialist, purpose built equipment before we can re-open the almost 300m tunnel.

    From 2016 better trains will be able to operate between Manchester and Preston providing more capacity on the line.

    Impact on services 2 May - 4 October

    During the work, we are committed to keeping as many passengers moving as possible. We're keeping one of the tunnels open so that services can run in both directions.

    This means trains will be less frequent, but we're working with train companies to lengthen platforms at stations along the route to allow trains with more carriages.

    It's not just the tunnels; we also need to do lots of work in the area with bridges and we will be installing a new footbridge.

    Between 2 May and 4 October 2015, there will only be a single line in operation through the tunnel. Service frequency will be reduced between these dates. 

    For train information, visit National Rail Enquiries.

    We're working in partnership with Northern Rail and First TransPennine Express to keep passengers informed throughout the work.

    Northern and First TransPennine Express logos

    Find out more about our plans for electrification in the North West.



Over the past 12 months we seem to be sending a lot more locomotives, particularly to Australia and America. There seems to be a ever increasing Demand for British made steam trains, which is nice to see!


 Press this link for boiler combustion Presentation.


Press this link for Welding.

Process for fitting steel tyres to loco wheels

Author: Dave Gregson

The steel tyres are machined from solid drawn carbon steel tube. (Available in the north west, at a price, from TI tubes of Bromley Cross, 01204 354911) Machine the diameter one thou per inch less than wheel casting diameter (For example here where the wheel diameter is 7" tyres machined -7 tho.) Note the shoulder left on front face of the ring, this helps to retain the tyre in position and gives a more effective hold on the wheel centre. It also strengthens the wheel face against damage in possible derailments etc.

Wheel casting machined and set up ready for the tyre to be heat treated. This expands the tyre enabling the wheel hub to be fitted. The assembly is allowed to cool naturally and the tyre ring shrinks thus fixing the assembly together. Note the set up for heating the tyre in position and the bolt fitted in centre of wheel casting to allow easy handling and transfer of unit in direct line with the tyre when the correct temperature is reached. It is important that the tyre is heated evenly and that the temperature is raised to no more than black heat turning blue, approximately 475F to 535F. If the tyre is heated to a temperature any higher than required the process can have a reverse effect, therefore the tyre when expands it will stay at a larger diameter when cooling takes place. The use of inside callipers can be useful to determining the correct expansion before offering the wheel centre in place.


This view shows the ring shrunk onto the wheel and left to cool down slowly without any assistance. Note the blue colour of the tyre!

The wheel can now be set up in the lathe for the outside tyre to be machined to the desired profile. Note the small piece of newspaper clamped between the wheel and the mandrill, this prevents the work piece moving during the machining operation. Turning the profile is normal engineering practice i.e. slow speeds, fine feeds and plenty of coolant. The forces set up in machining the tyre will prove if the shrinking process has been successfully completed

This view shows front and back views of the finished process, clearly showing the tyres shrunk onto the wheel centres.


Author: Dave Gregson

The principle involved is to replace worn out or badly damaged existing wheel sets on model steam locomotives, or to simply improve the adhesion factor to weight ratio by fitting steel tyres to the rim of the wheel.

The article is based on such an exercise replacing steel tyres to all the coupled wheels on the authors 5 inch gauge 4-6-0 B1 locomotive.

The process is very similar to initially fitting steel tyres, the only exception being that the wheels are fixed to the axels unlike the former as a result of which the wheel sets had steel tyres fitted before being keyed and pressed onto the axels. Therefore extra care must be taken in the machining and setting up process in order to keep the accuracy and concentricity reasonably accurate.

STEP 1 - Before any machining is attempted it would be wise to ensure that the wheels are firmly attached to their axels especially if you are unaware of the means which has been adopted, a simple solution is to pin the wheel to the axel shown in the picture below Photo1 this will reduce the risk of any movement during the machining process.


STEP 2 - The wheel set is then supported between centres in the lathe using a driving dog and catch plate. The first photograph below (Photo 2) shows a fixed steady supporting the axel to reduce chatter and also give more stability during the machining process. The second photograph below (Photo 3) shows finished wheel set.


TEP 3 - The next process involves manufacturing the steel tyres. This process follows the very same procedure as described in "Fitting Steel Tyres" and needs no further instruction. Photo 4 shows the tyres rough machined ready for the next stage of machining. Photo 5 shows the boring out of the centre ready for heat treatment before shrinking on the wheel sets.


STEP 4 - The next stage after fitting the tyres involves the final machining of the tyre profile, it is the builders choice which method is adopted; either included angle or flat finish across the tread of the tyre. A noticeable change in machining forces will be evident now altering from cast iron to steel and differences in machining techniques will be made obvious. Photo 6 shows machine set up and machining in operation, once again note the blue colour on the back face of the tyre as a result from the heat treatment and shrinking process. Photo 7 shows complete set of wheels fully machined. Photo 8 shows the wheel sets fitted back in the horn blocks of the B1 and ready for the road.