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New water pipeline in UK wins major engineering award

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A major new water supply scheme in Cumbria, the UK, has received a prestigious engineering award for its innovative approach.

United Utilities, in collaboration with its contract partners Farrans Roadbridge JV and Ward and Burke Construction, won the Tunnelling Project of the Year at the New Civil Engineer Awards, in the up to £50 million (€58.6 million) category.

“We’re immensely proud to be recognised in this way because the Castlerigg tunnel was quite literally a ground-breaking success,” said John Hilton, project director at United Utilities. “At 1.25km it is the longest tunnel ever built in the UK using a technique known as pipe jacking, and we completed it in a record three months. This beats the previous record by nearly 300m and eight months.

“This has demonstrated to the rest of the industry that with an innovative approach you can use existing technology to work further and faster, which helps keep costs down and minimise inconvenience.”

The project team designed the Castlerigg tunnel after the original planned route through the Greta Valley was rejected following landslides caused by Storm Desmond in 2015.

The record-breaking tunnel drive used hydraulic rams to propel the tunnelling machine forward under pressures of up to 900 tonnes.

The West Cumbria Supplies Project will bring more reliable and sustainable water supplies into Allerdale and Copeland. The scheme will link the area to Thirlmere Reservoir, involving the construction of 100km of new pipeline, a new treatment plant at Williamsgate, two new pumping stations and two new underground service reservoirs.

The project is expected to be completed by 2022.