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Vac ex and BROKK robot combine on trial holes for important rail scheme

18th Mar 2024

VAC UK Vac ex and BROKK combine on Transpennine Route Upgrade

VAC UK has carried out a programme of trial hole vacuum excavations at Dewsbury, Yorkshire.

The work is being conducted as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade – the multi-billion pound rail engineering programme expected to significantly improve rail travel between Manchester and Leeds.

VAC UK’s team had been tasked with identifying buried utilities, ahead of the deployment of a 200 tonne crane which is being brought in to help, in turn, with the construction of a 1600 tonne bridge crane. The crane’s weight and its potential impact on the ground means a detailed understanding of the underground infrastructure is essential.

The nature of the site presented some challenges. The location for the trial holes on top of a steep embankment made it important to deploy the right equipment. VAC UK used a combination of a RSP mega boom-equipped vac truck with extension hoses and a remote controlled BROKK D120II robot to manoeuvre the vac ex’s suction nozzle to each trial hole site safely.

VAC UK Vac ex and BROKK combine on Transpennine Route Upgrade

VAC UK Vac ex and BROKK combine on Transpennine Route Upgrade

VAC UK Vac ex and BROKK combine on Transpennine Route Upgrade

The 20 trial holes were completed in 10 days on site.

Vac ex innovation delivering greater versatility

According to VAC UK general manager, Sean Gallagher, the job is a good illustration of the technological innovation that is delivering ever greater versatility to vac ex.

“Thanks to the extension hoses and the BROKK we have been able to deliver the advantages of vac ex at probably  20 to 30 metres remove up a steep embankment,” he said. “It’s meant that the trial holes can be excavated safely with a minimum risk of a service strike or injury to the operators.”

The ambitious Transpennine Route Upgrade is led by Network Rail. It includes doubling the number of tracks from two to four between Huddersfield and Ravensthorpe to allow faster trains to overtake slower stopping services and to accommodate additional freight, upgrading stations and electrifying the railway from Huddersfield through to Leeds.


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