Engineers have started work to replace an underground 70-year-old gas main that helps heat thousands of homes in Stoke-on-Trent, after it started to show signs of its age.
Installed just after the Second World War, partly alongside what was then an operational Milton railway station, the 12-inch diameter pipe has required urgent repairs four times in the last year.
This has led to traffic issues in the local area around Maunders Road and Newford Crescent, as the pipe is under the road surface.
Now Cadent, which manages Staffordshire’s underground gas network, has decided it’s time to decommission and replace it, to end the ‘on-off’ roadworks.
Teams moved in yesterday, with traffic management in place one more time.
Working in collaboration with Stoke Council, unrelated work by the local authority that was due to happen soon at the same location will also happen now, avoiding further disruption.
“We manage thousands of miles of pipes, unseen beneath roads, with the vast majority working fine and without issues,” explained Mark Edwards, Head of Customer Operations, Cadent.
“Sometimes though, and usually with our older pipes, we find ourselves carrying out repairs more frequently than we’d like, with the frustrating disruption that causes.
“Here in Maunders Road and Newford Crescent, we’ve decided the best option to resolve this issue is to decommission the pipe and replace it.
“There should be no interruption to gas supply while we do this, but there will be short-term disruption to traffic.
“We need to do this now, before demand for gas ramps up quickly as the colder months begin.
“We hope people understand this is essential work and that by replacing the ageing pipe with a new plastic one, it solves the issue once-and-for-all, as well as ensuring safe and reliable gas supply.”
The work is expected to take a number of weeks, with a combination of lane closures and traffic lights keeping vehicles flowing around the work area.
Important: if at any time you smell gas during the work, do not assume it is related. It may not be and needs to be checked. Call the national gas emergency service immediately, day or night, on 0800 111 999. All calls are recorded and may be monitored.
Cadent in the West Midlands
Cadent operates four of the UK’s eight gas distribution networks: North West, West Midlands, Eastern and North London. Its West Midlands network covers a wide area from North Staffordshire to Herefordshire, reaching the M1 in the East and the Welsh borders on the West.
Hundreds of engineers and support teams ensure 24/7, year-round management of an underground piped gas distribution network which, if placed end to end, stretches to more than 15,000 miles. That’s almost 4.5 times the distance from Stoke to New York.
Cadent also provides the region’s gas emergency service, with operatives ready to respond quickly, day and night, to reported gas escapes or carbon monoxide incidents, or to support the blue-light emergency services dealing with incidents where gas is present (e.g. house fires).
Staffordshire is playing a huge role in helping to switch the gas grid away from fossil fuels, with Cadent, Keele University and other partners recently completing a UK-first trial of blending hydrogen into the existing gas pipe network. Using hydrogen in this blended way is a key step to converting the UK-wide system – essential to achieving net zero carbon emissions.