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Upgrading in May

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Beginning and ending with a bank holiday weekend, the month of May provides a great opportunity for Network Rail to get to down to work on some potentially disruptive projects.

This year was no different, besides the Late May Bank Holiday being shifted to accommodate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. But even when much of the country was celebrating, many rail professionals were hard at work. Rail Engineer takes a glance at some of the work carried out.

Early May Bank Holiday

Over the Early May bank holiday (2 May), Network Rail and the rail supply chain delivered more than £70.7 million worth of engineering work. More than 4,000 worksites were delivered within over 980 possessions, delivering major enhancements as well as core renewals and maintenance works across the rail network.

Twelve projects delivered infrastructure upgrades through a total of 19 worksites identified as RED through the Delivering Work Within Possessions (DWWP) standard. Important projects were delivered across most regions, with a mixture of asset renewal schemes and enhancement schemes to enable future network upgrades.

Bishop Stortford (London End) S&C renewal

Work at Bishop Stortford was part of the wider Bishop Stortford London End S&C renewal. At completion the project will deliver the renewal of 11 point ends and associated CAT11 Plain Line.

This is an asset condition driven renewal that has been prioritised by the Track RAM as part of the CP6 strategic business plan. The asset is life expired and will be replaced with modern equivalent units to provide a safe and reliable infrastructure, reducing the number of disruptive possessions, on a crucial Greater Anglia commuter line and freight route, to maintain these assets. The project is being delivered to avoid safety and performance issues would likely result in speed reductions and short notice disruptions.

Work completed over the early bank holiday included 553 yards CAT 11 on Down Cambridge; snagging of previous core works; and FUW Tamping, with no issues raised.

SAS13 bridge reconstruction

The existing SAS 13 Bridge was a rail viaduct which carried the Stechford to Aston (SAS) Lines over the Derby to Birmingham (DBP3) Lines and was made up of multiple brick arches and a concrete/steelspan. This project is required to remove and demolish the existing structure and replace with a single steel 92.5-metre-long structure spanning over the existing conventional railway (DBP3lines) and provide space for the installation of HS2 Ltd infrastructure.

The works undertaken during week 5 (29 April – 2 May) saw the removal of the existing structure in preparation for the new structure installation which subsequently took place during week 6 (6 May) and completed in week 8 (23 May). The extended Bank Holiday weekend allowed sufficient time for the demolition works to be completed and handed back in time in preparation for the new structure installation works.

Works completed included track/demolition protection installed on the DBP3 Lines; strip-out/removal of the rail systems on the SAS Lines (OLE, Track, S&T, E&P); demolition and removal of the existing SAS13 structure; installation of East and West abutment pre-cast bearing shelf units; and track/demolition protection removal on the DBP3 Lines (handed back early and at line-speed).

Track circuit failures were identified in the DBP3 Lines when lifting out/removing the track/demolition protection, these were a result of damaged cables. The Network Rail Fault Team was contacted, new cables were installed, and the faults were cleared.

Okehampton line enhancements

Following the reintroduction of the 15-mile-long Branch Line in 2021, the Phase 2 works looked to remove two existing temporary speed restrictions (TSRs) at Coleford and Fatherford by undertaking a formation/ballast replacement and enhanced drainage system at both locations.

Benefits of the work include increased passenger services as of 15/05/2022; faster journey times (following removal of speeds); increased passenger numbers travelling to Okehampton; elimination of “washout” risks to the infrastructure by installing drainage systems and geo membrane; and installation of a new maintenance access point to allow more frequent maintenance regimes.

Works included 620 yards of CAT07 at Fatherford, with associated CESS and cross drainage, and 300 yards of CAT07 at Coleford with crest, UTX, and carrier drainage system. Both sites had Terram Hydrotex installed throughout.

All works were completed on time.

Rutherglen West Curve

The Rutherglen West Curve renewal was due to be delivered under the Polmadie to Rutherglen remodelling project in 2018 but due design issues the renewal was cancelled. Rutherglen curve is a line of route used for empty coaching stock movements and has a tight radius requiring check rail throughout.

Access was sought through the West Coast strategy plan along with the blockade of the Argyle lines through Glasgow. Due to isolation requirements, close working with Polmadie depot was required to allow electric traction associated with the operation of the Caledonian sleeper to pass at key times of the block. The key benefit for Scotland’s Railway is the replacement of an asset which was becoming life expired and had required holding works since the deferral in 2018.

The works saw 26 track panels (456 yards) installed on a single line using a Kirow 250 Rail Crane, and the rails were checked throughout.

No issues were identified throughout the delivery of the works.

Tonbridge S&C renewal (phase 2)

Network Rail replaced track in the Tonbridge As part of its £1.25 billion investment on the Kent route. The work focused on replacing the switches and crossings. Work over the May bank holiday included the renewal of four point ends 1123A/B and 1126A/B, and associated plain line; 200W/m points heating strips and rectified PHT’s; HW2121 points operating equipment (POE) for all point ends; and mechanical back drives.

One issue involved a POE equipment failure (resistor) for the new points machine, and a spare was sourced from maintenance. The item was damaged before arriving on site and an investigation is ongoing as to the cause of the damage. Spares are to be ordered for future renewals.

North Wembley track renewal

The early bank holiday saw 762 yards of track removed and replaced with new rail and sleepers, plus a 328 yard renewal of formation and ballast on the busy North London down fast line under the famous Wembley Stadium arch.

The ageing components were replaced with state of the art G44 reinforced concrete sleepers and CEN60 rail. This, combined with the fresh formation and new ballast, will see a far more reliable, maintainable track on this busy 125mph Category 1A track.

The planned work was completed in full and on time including welding and stressing ready to open up to passengers on the morning of Tuesday 3 May.

Late May Bank Holiday

The vast majority of Britain’s rail network remained open as usual over the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend (2-5 June), with no closures into any of the major London stations meaning passengers could rely on the railway to join the celebrations.

While hundreds of projects were delivered over the bank holiday, the majority of those were maintenance works with no disruption to passenger or freight services.

A total of £55 million was invested in the rail network – lower than the £80 million programme that was delivered in the Late May Bank Holiday last year.

Works included switches and crossings renewals on the line from Hayes to Lewisham to improve passenger safety, as well as work delivered as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade which saw rail replacement bus services in operation between Manchester and various locations in the north west. In addition, more than 420 metres of track was renewed in South Elmsall in Yorkshire and over 340 metres replaced in Adwick. The work saw the replacement of the rail, sleepers, and ballast.

Rail Engineer thanks everyone involved in these works for giving up their time to ensure the network runs smoothly.

Rail Engineer is the leading independent quality monthly magazine for engineers, project managers, directors and leading rail executive decision makers. Head to www.railsubs.com to make a free subscription to RailEngineer magazine or one of its sister publications.


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