Transformer the weight equivalent of 14.5 double decker buses arrives safely  

Transformer to Burwell

Arriving in Burwell, a 184-tonne transformer being delivered from Ipswich Docks to a National Grid substation - Credit: © Terry Harris

National Grid described it as the size of a bungalow- Suffolk Highways preferred the weight equivalent of 14.5 double decker buses. 

Transformer to Burwell

A new 184-tonne transformer travelled from Ipswich Docks to a National Grid substation at Burwell in Cambridgeshire this weekend. - Credit: © Terry Harris

Both recognised it was massive, and moving this ‘beast on wheels’ less than 50 miles from Suffolk to Cambridgeshire would be a logistical nightmare.  

It took months of planning, on the day involved rolling road blocks and teams of workers as the 184-tonne transformer travelled from Ipswich Docks to a substation at Burwell.

184-tonne transformer

184-tonne transformer delivered from Ipswich Docks to a National Grid substation at Burwell - Credit: © Terry Harris


184-tonne transformer begins 12mph journey to Cambridgeshire..

A new 184-tonne transformer travelled to Cambridgeshire substation this weekend. There some hairy moments as it made its way from Ipswich Docks Burwell but no mishaps and mission completed. - Credit: Terry Harris

184-tonne transformer

184-tonne transformer on the A14 heading to Burwell

The transformer, which is more than eight metres long, four metres tall and five metres wide, needed specialist transportation to carry it on its way. 

Suffolk Highways worked for months with Highways England, Suffolk and Norfolk Police, contractors Allelys, and Cambridgeshire County Council. 


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“We have been working together to prepare for the next abnormal load - transformer movement, on behalf of National Grid,” said a Suffolk council spokesperson. 

Specialist trailers were used to support the transformer and the total length of the vehicle exceeded 60 metres.   

184-tonne transformer begins 12mph journey to Cambridgeshire..

184-tonne transformer begins 12mph journey to Cambridgeshire. . - Credit: © Terry Harris


184-tonne transformer begins 12mph journey to Cambridgeshire..

184-tonne transformer begins 12mph journey to Cambridgeshire. It came, mostly, along the A14 from Ipswich Docks to Burwell - Credit: © Terry Harris

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Highways teams were both in front and behind the transformer convoy, temporarily removing and reinstating the street furniture and trimming trees.  

“This enabled the transformer to be transported, whilst avoiding additional delays and keeping disruption to a minimum for members of the public,” said the spokesperson. 

There were lane closures in place along A14 at Newmarket to allow for the load to cross over from the west-bound to the east-bound carriageway to access the A142 slip road.  

To negotiate permanent street furniture on the day of the move, the load travelled on the opposite side of the carriageway at times.

184-tonne transformer begins 12mph journey to Cambridgeshire..

184-tonne transformer begins 12mph journey to Cambridgeshire. . - Credit: Terry Harris


184-tonne transformer begins 12mph journey to Cambridgeshire..

184-tonne transformer begins 12mph journey to Cambridgeshire. - Credit: © Terry Harris

Suffolk and Norfolk Police enforced rolling roadblocks, vital for many areas especially when Orwell Bridge. The east and west bound carriageway were closed for a short period to ensure full safety of road users. 

When it arrived near to its destination at Burwell, villagers had responded to the call to avoid parking on the street or pavement on Ness Road, High Street, Reach Road and Weir Road in Burwell so the transformer could safely access the substation. 

Rachel Sheridan, Highways England Project Manager, said: “It’s not every day that you see a 184-tonne transformer being transported on the Highways England network. 

“We’ve been working closely with the National Grid and police for the last few months to ensure this abnormal load is delivered to the substation in Cambridgeshire as safely and smoothly as possible.  


184-tonne transformer

184-tonne transformer begins 12mph journey to Cambridgeshire. .Rolling road blocks were in place on the A14 - Credit: © Terry Harris

“Throughout its journey we looked to keep disruption to drivers and people who live, work and are travelling in the area, to a minimum.” 

The transformer left Ipswich Docks at 8am and arrived at Burwell substation before 6pm –three hours earlier than had been allowed.  



National Grid project manager, David Oglesby, said: “Millions of people rely on us to supply their electricity without interruption, day in, day out so it’s important that we keep our substations and the equipment in them working efficiently.  

“The delivery of this transformer to our Burwell site will ensure we are able to continue to deliver power reliably to the local area.”  

National Grid says transformers play a vital role in helping to ensure the UK continues to enjoy safe and reliable electricity supplies. 

184-tonne transformer

Gently does it as 184-tonne transformer begins 12mph journey to Cambridgeshire. - Credit: © Terry Harris

“We need to make sure the old one, which has now reached the end of its life, is replaced,” said a spokesperson.  

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