Scotland’s railways are a success story with passenger traffic increasing by 47% in the 15 years up to 2012. Edinburgh’s Haymarket station, however, has been almost too successful. Over the same period the increase has been a massive 138%. Over two million passengers now use the station each year, making it the most congested in Scotland.
When opened in 1842, the station was initially the terminus of the Glasgow and Edinburgh Railway before the line was completed through a tunnel and Princess Street Gardens to what is now Edinburgh Waverley station. Its ticket office is one of the UK’s oldest station buildings but, with the number of passengers now using this small building and the narrow footbridge beyond it, travelling through Haymarket station is not a pleasant experience.
With major developments planned for the area and the opening of a station tram stop next year, things can only get worse. However, Haymarket’s passengers know something big is afoot. The new, large steelwork structure above the station platforms cannot be missed and redevelopment is underway.
The last time the station had a makeover was in 1983 when the current footbridge replaced a smaller one and new platform canopies were installed. Platform 0, on the north side of the station, was provided in 2006 to give some capacity relief during the re-construction of Edinburgh Waverley station (The Rail Engineer issue 26 – December 2006). With its high number of passengers, Haymarket was a priority for the installation of lifts to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act, despite the pending station improvements. As a result, lifts to the platforms from the footbridge were installed in 2011.
The redevelopment of the station at Haymarket is part of the Scottish Government’s strategic Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme or EGIP (as described in The Rail Engineer last month – issue 104).This aims to improve all aspects of the rail service between Scotland’s two largest cities and builds on feasibility studies drawn up by First ScotRail in 2007. With the need for capacity improvements becoming increasingly urgent, the project was taken over by Transport Scotland. A multi- discipline design team was appointed, led by the Halcrow Group as lead consultants with architectural design by IDP Architects and mechanical and electrical engineering support by SVM Glasgow.
With its grade 1 listed booking office, sensitive city location and the adjacent tram works that will provide a stop at the station, this scheme has many stakeholders including the City Council which, according to Network Rail’s project manager, Tom McPake, was very supportive. As a result, the design had a number of iterations. For example, instead of the originally-proposed copper cladding, the planning permission now requires zinc as well as black granite which will be installed by Curtis Moore. The station design also had to account for large crowds attending events at Murrayfield stadium.
The final design provides a new, 2250 square metre concourse linked to and behind the existing station building. 15% of this new concourse will be retail space and passengers will have ten times the current circulating area. Access will be either through the existing building or a new entrance adjacent to the tram stop. Platforms will be served by a new footbridge, around four times wider than the current one with lifts, steps and escalators. Special event stairs will direct crowds to Murrayfield away from the main concourse.
A new 500kVA power supply is being installed by SES Electrical Contractors in the undercroft below the new concourse, alongside the new power supply for the Edinburgh trams. Although this is twice the existing supply, there will also be new energy-saving lighting. The station will incorporate modern passenger information systems, including help pads and the use of screens to eliminate paper signs. Platforms are to be resurfaced using hot rolled asphalt with tactile copes. The canopies are to be replaced and extended to give passengers more space in bad weather, reducing boarding times.
Air filled pillow roof
An unusual feature is the ETFE Air Filled Pillow (AFP system) roof provided by Novum Structures. This uses pillows of transparent ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) material filled with dehumidified air from a central air pump which cycles as necessary. It offers the advantages of reduced weight and is sacrificial in the event of an incident. The material has been used at the Beijing Olympics and, closer to home, is currently being installed on the façade of the Scottish Hydro Arena in Glasgow.
The £25 million contract for the station works was awarded to Morgan Sindall in December 2011 and is a target cost contract. Tom McPake explained that a significant factor in the selection process was the proposed construction methodology which included the use of large cranes to lift complete steelwork assemblies into place.
When work started on site in May 2012, amongst the first items of work were temporary station alterations to create space for the new concourse and the undercroft below it. The stairs from the footbridge to Platform 1 were removed and replaced by temporary stairs away from the footbridge. It was also necessary to shorten and infill Platform 0. When the station work is complete this platform will be extended to its original length within the undercroft.
The big lifts
The footbridge steelwork was fabricated in two parts in the original station car park by contractor J&D Pierce. Critical to the project programme were the lifts for these two major components. On 17 November 2012, a 1200 ton crane was used for a 150 ton lift between Platforms 4 and 2/3. This was followed by a 110 ton lift on 22 December between Platforms 2/3 and 1 using a 1000 ton crane. During this lift there was only 3 cm between the steelwork and retaining wall. Tom McPake was impressed by the quality of the setting out with the eight legs of the structure landing precisely in position.
The steelwork was lifted with its scaffolding and working deck already in place, an example of building off-site wherever possible to minimise passenger interface and a good example of design for safety. The use of these cranes also required discussions with the Edinburgh tram project as the heavy cranes had to be moved into position across newly- laid tram tracks.
Once the new footbridge steelwork was in place, the steelwork for the concourse above the old car park was erected in situ. Tom advised that the station work involved no disruption to train services as it only required rules of the route possessions. It did involve OLE work with wires through the station being re-hung on the underside of the new building, the provision of two new portals, moving the return conductor to rail level and the shortening of Platform 0.
Keeping the station operational
The project’s main challenge was to keep the station operational, and the key to this was the daily co-ordination meeting between the train operator, the contractor and Network Rail. Tom felt that the “best measure of success was the great working relationship” from these meetings with a one-team approach to avoid passenger disruption. This included measures to minimise passenger interface with all work done above or behind hoardings, ensuring exposed platform areas were put back into public use by the next day, a good traffic management plan for deliveries, co-ordinated movement of hoardings, flyers on trains and the provision of floor walkers to direct passengers when the stairs were re-located on Platform 1.
First ScotRail is involved in the final specification of the facilities to be used by its personnel. The agreed room data sheets include such items as power points, flooring, storage, air conditioning, cash security and customer displays. Tom sees this approach as a model that will be used for forthcoming EGIP station projects at Edinburgh Gateway and Glasgow Queen Street.
Working with the community
Tom was clearly pleased with the way that the project had worked with the local community. This included visits to the local Dalry Primary School which had been involved
in the placement of a time capsule at the station. The project was also working with homeless charities and was in discussion with Sustrans to ensure that the cycling community’s needs were met. The most visible aspect of this community work is a mural, commissioned by the project, which was subject to this motion in the Scottish Parliament:
“That the Parliament congratulates Network Rail on commissioning Gary Mackay, an urban artist, to create what it considers a striking mural at Haymarket Station that depicts key moments in the community’s social, cultural, sporting and artistic history; understands that the mural is part of a Scotland-wide initiative to engage urban artists in order to address unwelcome graffiti; understands that the mural also conceals the ongoing construction work that is aimed at transforming Haymarket
Station into a 21st century transport hub for the city, and believes that Gary’s work might encourage people of all ages to take an interest in their community and its history.”
The work at Haymarket is visibly approaching completion. By July the footbridge and concourse will be weather-tight and the project will have moved to a fitting-out stage. The new concourse will open to passengers in December, following which finishing works, including removal of the old footbridge and lifts, will continue until April 2014. The lifts will be re-used as part of Transport Scotland’s “Access for All” programme.
From 1842 to the 21st century
Currently Haymarket’s passengers face not only an over-crowded station inside but also tram works outside. Soon they are in for a well-deserved treat comparable to that experienced by King’s Cross’s passengers last year. The tram works are due to be complete at the end of summer. In December their 1842 station building will continue to welcome them as they pass through into a 21st century station with its new concourse providing ten times the space in a modern station environment.
Writer’s Postscript: For me this was a particularly satisfying project on which to report as I was responsible for Haymarket Depot’s 45 ton rail steam crane, built in 1936 for the LMS railway. This was used to lift the current footbridge into position 30 years ago. The lack of hard hats and method statements are just two examples of how this was a very different age!