The first of Woodhead's two single bores, engineered by Charles Vignoles and Joseph Locke, opened to traffic in 1845. It rises on a 1 in 200 gradient towards Dunford Bridge at its east end. Seven years later, the second tunnel was finished.
By the end of the Second World War, they were in such poor condition that Halcrow & Partners was contracted to build a new double-track tunnel. The line was also electrified. After five years work, the ribbon was cut by Transport Minister Alan Lennox-Boyd on 3rd June 1954. It cost £4.6million and six lives.
The little-used passenger service bit the dust in January 1970 but it was not until Saturday 18th July 1981 that a Harwich ferry train became the last service ever the pass through the tunnel.