United Utilities manages over 26,000 miles of water pipes and 47,000 miles of sewers across North West England.

Recently, the company had to carry out the most extensive inspection ever done on the backbone of the region’s water pipeline network, the Haweswater Aqueduct. Buried more than 100 feet underground, the aqueduct is roughly 55 miles long and a measly 8 1/2 feet in diameter. That left United Utilities with a major challenge. How could it shuttle its 80 engineers, surveyors and equipment through the aqueduct – safely and quickly – without damaging or contaminating the pipes?

Mission impossible for a subterranean shuttle?

United Utilities called upon ePowerTrucks, Motrec’s exclusive distributor in the UK, to come up with a solution that could meet all of its requirements for an underground shuttle.

For starters, the vehicle had to be robust, emission-free and reliable over long distances. It also had to be narrow and drivable from either end, since turning in tight tunnels was not an option. Equally important, the vehicle had to be cost-effective.

One small design change brings multiple gains

Motrec and ePowerTrucks also carefully designed the vehicles so that they wouldn’t run up the sides of the curved pipe like a rollercoaster, which would endanger workers, equipment and the overall infrastructure. This one small design adjustment would potentially save United Utilities significant time and costs in terms of productivity and possible repairs.

Because Motrec vehicles proved to be so easy to modify, United also asked that one be kitted out as a first-aid and rescue vehicle.