Catesby Tunnel, a vehicle testing facility in Northamptonshire, UK is set to open in summer 2021 as a test resource for aerodynamic testing and vehicle development. The facility is a re-development of a disused railway tunnel which was once part of the Great Central Railway. Built as a double-width tunnel and one of the longest disused tunnels of the Victorian Era, Catesby Tunnel features a long and smooth tarmac straight and constant gradient.
The facility houses a 2.7km long, purpose-built, straight road test track. Capable of providing accurate and affordable full scale aerodynamic and performance data, the tunnel is being developed by Brackley-based Aero Research Partners with testing of aerodynamic performance, cooling, aeroacoustics, emissions and dirt deposition in mind. The sealed, underground working section ensures there is no wind and minimal temperature changes, providing a controlled environment for repeatable testing.
The railway tunnel is currently undergoing a multi-million pound transformation to become a vehicle testing facility. Development began in December 2017 and the tunnel is now in the final phase of construction, with a 400m road surface already laid out and initial testing completed. The remaining sections will be completed in the coming months, ready for opening in summer 2021.
All facilities are entirely enclosed to ensure that vehicle development programmes can be conducted in secrecy. Enclosed working spaces have a shutter opening to the tunnel to ensure privacy, while the main building adjoining the tunnel will house two full-size articulated lorries to unload vehicles directly into the preparation area.
Bookings will be accepted from spring 2021, ahead of the facility opening in summer.