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British machine lays pipe without digging up paved roads

A revolutionary method of laying gas pipes that avoids digging up road surfaces has been developed by a British consortium and may gain the United Kingdom valuable exports.

The pipe-insertion machine, a pneumatic steel "mole," burrows underground dragging new gas pipes to replace old mains. North West Gas, a public energy company, and a Lancashire engineering firm have joined forces to develop the steel machine at a cost of $:250,000.

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Avoiding the need for digging up streets -- with consequent traffic disruption -- means that North West Gas can save up to $:2 million annually.

The machine effectively does in 1 hour and 15 minutes work that normally takes a week.