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LMS Route: Nuneaton to Birmingham New Street

Arley Tunnel

Arley Tunnel was opened on 1st November 1864 by the Midland Railway on the Whitacre to Nuneaton line as part of the Birmingham to Leicester route. The tunnel was constructed on the highest point along the route between Arley and Stockingford and was subject to subsidence inside the tunnel. It was closed completely to passenger traffic on 14th December 1948 with single line working initiated for freight traffic. However as the situation within the tunnel deteriorated the line was closed to all traffic on 9th January 1949. The tunnel was initially reopened with single line working on a revised timetable on Monday 11th April 1949 but by 9th May 1949 the situation had again deteriorated so that running was confined to just a few hours each day. On the evening of the 11th May just after a return special to London, a wide crack appeared in the roof arch and the tunnel was immediately closed to traffic. The tunnel needed a considerable amount of work to be undertaken and some 300 yards of the 999 yard long tunnel was opened out by removing the roof and extending the cutting. The line did not reopen until 5th December 1949. Passenger traffic was handled by Midland Red buses running between Nuneaton and Arley calling at Stockingford when required. The reason for the problem was due to the clay soil, through which the tunnel had been constructed, holding considerable amounts of water and therefore becoming unstable. The tunnel had issues in 1993 when it was again closed on 19th March for engineering work and not re-opened until 3rd October 1993.

Looking towards Nuneaton and the original tunnel entrance prior to it being opened out into a cutting in the 1940s
Ref: mrat1881
British Railways
Looking towards Nuneaton and the original tunnel entrance prior to it being opened out into a cutting in the 1940s
An BR 2-10-0 9F locomotive emerges from the tunnel at the head of a freight train on 16th October 1965
Ref: mrat1875
P Lee
A 1900 photograph of Arley Railway Tunnel's repair gang led by John Stain, the MR's Charge Hand
Ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0 No 48111 hauls an empty coal train up the 1 in 125 gradient to Arley Tunnel on 20th March 1966
Ref: mrat29
M Mensing
Ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0 No 48111 hauls an empty coal train up the 1 in 125 gradient to Arley Tunnel on 20th March 1966
An BR 2-10-0 9F locomotive emerges from the tunnel at the head of a freight train on 16th October 1965
Ref: mrat1299
M Mensing
An BR 2-10-0 9F locomotive emerges from the tunnel at the head of a freight train on 16th October 1965
Ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0 No 48718 climbs to Arley Tunnel with a train of coal empties on Sunday 10th October 1965
Ref: mrat1068
M Mensing
Ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0 No 48718 climbs to Arley Tunnel with a train of coal empties on Sunday 10th October 1965

Diesel locomotive D332 is seen on a diverted parcels service on Sunday 10th October 1965
Ref: mrat1068
M Mensing
Diesel locomotive D332 is seen on a diverted parcels service on Sunday 10th October 1965
Diesel locomotive D215 'Aquitinia' is seen leaving the western end of Arley Tunnel on a diverted express service
Ref: mrat1076
M Mensing
Diesel locomotive D215 'Aquitinia' is seen leaving the western end of Arley Tunnel on a diverted express service
A three-car Craven DMU set leaves the eastern end of Arley Tunnel 'wrong line' on Sunday 23rd October 1966
Ref: mrat1075
M Mensing
A three-car Craven DMU set leaves the eastern end of Arley Tunnel 'wrong line' on Sunday 23rd October 1966
A 1902 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map showing the original length of Arley Tunnel and its tunnel entrances
Ref: mrat1882
National Library of Scotland
A 1902 25 inch to the mile OS map showing the original length of Arley Tunnel and its tunnel entrances
A low resolution version of the Signalling Diagram for single line working through Arley Tunnel in the late 1940s
Ref: mrat1882
Signalling Record Society
A low resolution version of the Signalling Diagram for single line working through Arley Tunnel in the late 1940s