HomeDepotEnhancing UK traincare depots

Enhancing UK traincare depots

Listen to this article

Keeping passengers and freight on the move, on a punctual and reliable railway, can only be achieved if the UK’s traincare depots are developed strategically and well maintained, right across the network. These important facilities will continue to play an essential role in a high-performing railway and it is for this reason that many purpose-built maintenance facilities have been created during the last decade.

Today’s clean, spacious and airy train depots, able to take complete trains under cover, are a far cry from those of yesteryear, so it’s perhaps not surprising that so many new ones have been built recently. One of the businesses involved is VolkerFitzpatrick, which has played a pivotal role in the design, construction, modification, upgrade and renewal of a wide range of depots during the last 20 years.

100 years of success

VolkerFitzpatrick is a civil engineering and building contractor with a reputation for innovative engineering and design. With a history dating back to the 1880s, it has evolved into a multidisciplinary construction business, providing civil engineering, building and rail infrastructure services to public and private sector organisations throughout the UK.

As part of VolkerWessels UK, VolkerFitzpatrick has the backing of a multi-disciplinary construction and civil engineering group with a turnover of around £877 million and over 2,500 employees. All VolkerWessels UK businesses work very closely together and draw upon individual and collective expertise and resources to deliver quality projects across a wide range of disciplines.

VolkerFitzpatrick’s strength comes from the high-quality performance of its people. Their mission is to work together to ‘Experience Excellence’ for their clients and teams and the whole business is focused on meeting customer expectations whilst operating accountably and striving for excellence in all that they do.

Over the years, VolkerFitzpatrick has built up a successful track record of delivering multi-disciplinary works at traincare depots, renewing or upgrading facilities to meet the changing needs of train operating companies. One crucial factor in all projects has been undertaking the works without impacting on operational safety or the running of services which rely on these facilities every day.

The business is also recognised for the added value it delivers on its many and varied projects, from stakeholder interfaces, vast operational experience in live rail environments, understanding design and providing great temporary works solutions, to overall programme management and integration.

A total of 20 depot projects have been delivered across the UK in the last 20 years, ranging from £2 million to £100 million in value. These include Heathrow Express, Temple Mills EWS, Northam, Bedford Thameslink, Temple Mills RLE, IKF Ashford, IKF Ramsgate, Etches Park, Bedford Cauldwell, Liverpool Edge Hill, Blackpool Tram Maintenance Depot, Reading Traincare Depot and two Thameslink Depots.

Building for the future

The team is also currently undertaking infrastructure and depot works at a number of sites, including Ilford, Temple Mills Remodelling B and Craigentinny in Edinburgh.

John Cox, managing director of VolkerFitzpatrick’s Rail division said: “There is nothing that we can’t turn our hand to in traincare depots, as we support our clients in delivering centres of excellence at all of the facilities we are involved with. We have a solid track record of delivering well and working safely.

“Close collaboration between our team and clients means we continually improve our systems and service, in pursuit of ever better reliability and maintainability at the facilities we build and enhance. We will continue to innovate and add value as we support our clients to achieve their long-term visions. It is my pleasure to introduce some of the more recent projects we have worked on.”


The new state-of-the-art Doncaster depot, delivered as part of the Department for Transport’s Intercity Express Programme (IEP), breaks all stereotypes, offering a clean, light and modern working environment, using industry-leading technology. Designed and constructed by VolkerFitzpatrick, the depot will house fleets for Virgin Trains East Coast and Transpeninne Express. Hitachi Rail Europe, the company building and maintaining the new intercity trains, is on schedule to employ 250 people at the depot.

Over 2,000 people worked on the project, which began in July 2014 and ran for two years and eight months. The works began with ground preparation, including the removal of contaminated soil. The team then constructed train-wash and wheel-lathe buildings and a 11,000 square metres maintenance depot, as well as an under-frame cleaning facility.

VolkerFitzpatrick worked with sister businesses VolkerRail, which supplied and installed all the overhead line equipment (OLE) for the project, and VolkerGround Engineering, which worked on the piling for the OLE, as well as the sheet piling for two retaining walls.

John Cox continued: “Our team is extremely proud to have been a part of this project. The new Doncaster depot combines modern design with exceptional engineering and is a credit to everyone involved.”

Stoke Gifford

VolkerFitzpatrick also designed and constructed the new Stoke Gifford depot for the IEP programme, at a site just outside Bristol.

The depot is required for the maintenance of the GWR’s fleet of IEP Class 800 trains. This includes planned services, train washing facilities, heavy maintenance, office accommodation and connections to the Bristol to South Wales Line.

A ten-car storage maintenance shed and carriage wash building was constructed on the northern corner of the site with a floor area of 9,040 square metres. To the west of the shed, a two-storey office and welfare facility was constructed.

The scope of work included two raised maintenance roads with roof and platform level access and 2.5 tonne monorail hoists. A 740 square metre wheel-lathe building was constructed for the maintenance, along with external sidings for train storage. Other buildings include a train wash, project offices and an amenity building. A service spine was built to facilitate inspecting, repairing, cleaning, maintaining, refuelling, rewatering and replenishing consumables, as well as storing the rolling stock.

North Pole

To maintain IEP trains just outside London Paddington, VolkerFitzpatrick designed and delivered a complete remodelling of the former-Eurostar North Pole depot, a facility that is key to the success of train operations on the Great Western main line.

The site, which is approximately 3km long, contains the main servicing shed (a 400-metre-long six-track shed for light maintenance and cleaning) and a repair shed approximately 200 metres long with four tracks, all of which are designed to carry out major repairs including multiple bogie exchange and other major component replacements.

In addition, the site also includes a dedicated wheel lathe building to re-profile wheels as part of the trains maintenance programme, and a dedicated bogie shed, used primarily for single bogie changes.

Three Bridges

The Thameslink Rolling Stock Project (TRSP) is part of the larger Thameslink Project to upgrade the rail link between Brighton and Bedford across London. TRSP comprises the supply of new rolling stock (1,200 carriages and trains) and the maintenance of these over 25 years.

Siemens engaged VolkerFitzpatrick to act as their construction partner to design, build and commission two depots in parallel at Hornsey and Three Bridges.

The Three Bridges depot is split into east and west side facilities, either side of the London to Brighton main line. The works consisted of delivering a five-road, 12-car maintenance building with associated stores, welfare facilities and offices, train stabling and servicing roads. Two carriage washing machines, one on each side of the site, two CET systems, a wheel lathe and all associated depot infrastructure were also installed.

Two under bridges were widened as part of the work and three storage sidings added on each side of the main line.


The depot at Hornsey in north London, the 25kV AC depot (Three Bridges is in DC territory), was constructed within a live operational rail environment next to the East Coast main line.

On this occasion, the project called for the coordinated redevelopment of two separate areas of existing infrastructure, including the existing operational depot and derelict sidings. The work included building a new three-road, 12-car maintenance shed, two carriage washing machines, offices, CET and all associated depot infrastructure.

Two bridges over the New River and Turnpike Lane were also widened.

Looking ahead

VolkerWessels UK and its business units are built on controlled and sustainable growth, with careful risk management of opportunities, targeted investments and careful management of overheads and cost base.

Throughout the remainder of 2017 and beyond, VolkerFitzpatrick looks forward to playing an ongoing role in helping to deliver a better railway for Britain. The business is exploring potential opportunities to deliver a full turnkey solution, providing funding for projects, collaborating on feasibility and development studies, design, construction, testing, commissioning, handing over and maintaining facilities.

Following recent announcements regarding plans and contract awards for HS2, the latest news outlining the Government’s extensive investment aspirations for CP6 and upcoming franchise renewals, there is a real sense of optimism amongst the developers, operators and users of Britain’s railways.

Within VolkerFitzpatrick, this optimism is underscored by a determined and motivated team, whose ambitions stretch as far forward as its excellent track record and experience go back.

Read more: Sustainability and the fallout from scrapped electrification plans



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.