A590 Swarthmoor: details of major project to upgrade ageing gas main

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  • Upgrade for gas main under A590 Ulverston Road, Swarthmoor
  • Cadent hopes to deploy new technique, to minimise disruption
  • The first of two phases of work starts Monday 10th October
  • It’s part of an ongoing £800m, five-year investment programme, to ensure the local gas network is able to help heat homes

Note: this page was updated in March 2023 with a new start date for Phase Two

The latest phase of a major project to upgrade Cumbria’s underground gas network starts on Monday (10th October) with work on the A590 Ulverston Road at Swarthmoor.
Cadent, which manages the local gas network, has asked specialist engineers to look at deploying a new technique that it hopes will remove the need for traffic lights during this first of two required phases of work.
The location for a key section of this phase one – the A590 junction with Rufus Lane and Fox Street – looks ideal for an innovative method that enables engineers to replace short lengths of underground pipes from a remote position, beside the road.
“We’ll only know for sure that we can use this method when we assess on site,” explained Craig Horrocks, Head of Cadent’s North West Investment Planning Office, “but we recognise this is a high traffic route and want to avoid disruption if we can.”
In total, Cadent will be replacing around 600 metres of pipes in this latest phase of a much bigger £800m, five-year commitment to upgrade the North West gas network.
These form part of more than 21,000 miles of gas distribution pipes in the region, helping to heat 2.7 million homes, hospitals, schools, offices, and other buildings.
Upgrading old metallic pipes helps ensure they are ready to carry low-carbon gas like hydrogen, which is essential for the UK to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050.

Phase one - starting 10th October 2022

During phase one of the Swarthmoor works – starting 10th October – the carriageway will be a little narrower for motorists, for a couple of weeks, as engineers carry out work towards the edges of the road and in the footpath.
While traffic will continue to flow in both directions, non-HGV traffic will be encouraged to use a number of signposted alternative routes to and from the new roundabout at Swarthmoor (including via Urswick Road). Westbound non-HGV traffic will also be encouraged to use the A5087 coast road to Barrow.

Phase two - starting 13th March 2023

Other utilities need to work in the same space, so Cadent will move off site. We will return 13th March 2023.
This second phase includes work close to where the A590 crosses the rail lines, nearer Ulverston. For around six weeks, there will be traffic lights here – to enable the teams to work safely in the carriageway. Non-HGV traffic will again be requested to follow signposted diversion routes.
There should be NO interruption to gas supply during either of the two phases, apart from a small number of properties which take a direct feed from the pipe that is being replaced. Cadent will be in touch with each property to explain that they will be temporarily without supply, for a short time while they connect the property into the new main. Their gas supply will be restored on the same day it goes off.

Why this work is so important 

Craig Horrocks said: “Our job is to keep gas flowing to heat homes, schools, offices and many other buildings in the local area, as well as future-proof the network ready for hydrogen.
“This work in Swarthmoor is an essential part of our programme to upgrade the older pipes within the network. Our work programme for this year includes the upgrade of more than 10km of pipes in the Barrow and South Lakeland council areas.
“More than 83 per cent of homes in our North West network area have gas central heating, so this work ensures we’re ready to safely deliver that gas day and night, 365 days a year, both now and for many generations to come.”

Contacting Cadent about this project

Customers with questions about this work can contact the team by:
Phone: 0800 090 3071
Email: CustomerCareNW@cadentgas.com
Online: https://cadentgas.com/contact-us/contact-form-nw

If you smell gas

If you smell gas during this work, nearby or anywhere, always ring the national gas emergency service immediately, day or night, on 0800 111 999*. Do not delay, or assume it’s related to this work. It may not be and must be checked.

Cadent in the North West

Cadent operates four of the UK’s eight gas distribution networks – North West England, West Midlands, Eastern England, and North London.
Its North West network stretches from the Lake District to Crewe and is home to 21,000 miles of distribution pipes (most of them underground) and hundreds of above ground installations. If placed end to end, that amount of pipes would stretch from Cumbria to Sydney, Australia, and back again.
Around £800m will be invested in the North West’s gas network over the next five years. This will maintain safe, secure supplies to homes, hospitals, schools, offices, and other sites, as well as support the UK journey to net zero carbon emissions.
Backed by Cadent and many partners, the North West region is set to lead the way in a major shift from fossil gases to hydrogen. Producing only heat and water at point of use, hydrogen is key to the UK’s net zero future and is set to be introduced at volume in the North West during the 2020s (see www.hynet.co.uk).


Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy.  We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change.  Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency.   Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh Borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing. 

Future of Gas: Here at Cadent we support the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. That means we’re backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. We know people love the controllability of gas and, with our network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which we believe can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come.

Cadent manages the national gas emergency service free phone line on behalf of the gas industry - 0800 111 999*

Cadent Gas Ltd is owned by a consortium of global investors.

*All calls are recorded and may be monitored.

Media contacts

Kevin Hegarty


07970 694897