A critical stage in a major engineering feat to upgrade a gas pipe in St Helens passed without a hitch – and out-of-sight, as much of it happened below ground.
Engineers are now more than halfway through a project to replace an old metallic pipe under Knowsley Road that takes gas to thousands of local homes.
The on-site team have just completed a ‘flow-stop’ procedure [seen here in the pictures] which safely ceased gas flowing through a pipe that dates from before the Second World War. This was completed after a new and very durable plastic pipe was installed and brought into service, ensuring an uninterrupted gas supply.
Now the engineers, working on behalf of local gas network Cadent, will continue to decommission the old pipe, as well as connect and commission ‘services’ (the smaller pipes which take gas from the main in the road into each property).
The whole project involves the replacement of 260 metres of metallic gas main, over four months. Planners have worked closely with the highways teams at St Helens Council to keep everyone safe and keep traffic flowing – under traffic lights – around the considerable work area.
Ian Unsworth, site manager, said: “Jobs like these are significant engineering projects, which involve careful planning and expertise to make sure it’s all done safely. We also try hard to minimise disruption that’s inevitable when we are working on pipes that sit directly under road surfaces, like here in Knowsley Road.
“We are grateful for the understanding and patience of customers and motorists while we carry out this work.”
Work started at the junction of Windsor Road in May and covers a length of pipe that runs through to Douglas Street.
This job is part of a country-wide programme to upgrade gas mains. Cadent is upgrading pipes at the rate of hundreds of kilometres every year, installing new pipes that will keep energy flowing for at least 80 years.
Steve Murray, who heads Cadent’s gas mains replacement programme in the North West, said: “This is one of our bigger sizes of mains pipe, so it’s a considerable engineering challenge. We’re replacing a metallic pipe that’s reached the natural end of its working life. This is essential work to ensure thousands of customers in St Helens can be safe and warm in their homes for many years to come.”
As the job got under way, customer teams sent letters and went door-to-door to talk to local residents and business owners. They can also be contacted on 0161 703 1110.
Cadent is the UK’s biggest gas network, ensuring gas reaches 11 million homes through a network of 131,000km of pipes across England. In the North West, it owns and operates more than 34,000km of pipes – if placed end-to-end, that amount would stretch from St Helens to Sydney, and back again.
Photos attached, showing engineers carrying out the flow-stop procedure.