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VolkerFitzpatrick: Upgrading stations

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With Network Rail’s comprehensive Railway Upgrade Plan well underway and the modernisation of Britain’s railways firmly in the spotlight, there is a growing need and expectation for first-class stations and infrastructure to accommodate growing numbers of passengers nationwide.

One business with a huge role in the modernisation programme has developed a reputation as an exceptional multi-disciplinary contractor, with extensive capabilities in civil engineering, building and rail, meeting the demands of a wide range of clients across multiple disciplines. It is this consolidated approach that has helped VolkerFitzpatrick deliver several high-profile UK railway station schemes in the last 10 years.

Following the five-year period of the CP5 determination, the Government’s modernisation of the UK rail network has created opportunities for the delivery of significant engineering schemes for Network Rail. Part of VolkerWessels UK, VolkerFitzpatrick has played a pivotal role in the design, construction, modification, upgrade and renewal of Britain’s railway infrastructure.

Glancing backwards

Over the years, VolkerFitzpatrick, which has a long and established history of operating in the rail sector, has successfully delivered several high-profile station projects.

In 2006, the business delivered the £7 million design and build of the new Imperial Wharf station on London Overground as part of the St George Development on the Up and Down West London line in Fulham. The scheme was completed and handed over in November 2007. VolkerFitzpatrick was involved from conception and initial planning and approval, through to delivery of a range of disciplines including civil and structural construction, mechanical and electrical works, signalling, permanent way, retail and operational telecoms.

South of London, a £31 million platform extension scheme at Gatwick station was a challenging project for VolkerFitzpatrick, as the station had to remain operational throughout the works. Because of this, the team conducted activities during the night, to prevent critical passenger announcements being drowned out by work during the day.

The project involved the construction of a new 12-car platform for Fast trains, with associated signalling, track and access. The replacement of a stairway with an escalator and lift improved passenger circulation on Platforms 5 and 6, while upgrading the track and signalling improved performance and reliability of trains passing through and travelling to and from Gatwick Airport.

One major engineering challenge the project team encountered during the works involved the structural columns supporting the station’s concourse, which directly conflicted with the new Platform 7 track alignment. Removing the columns was a delicate operation, involving supporting the 500-tonne operational concourse on temporary works during the transfer onto its new columns. With careful planning, the team co-ordinated a seamless transfer which took place in a single morning with only 2mm deflection, and no negative effects on passengers.

Cambridge North

Earlier this year, VolkerFitzpatrick completed the design and construction of a new rail station between Waterbeach and Cambridge stations on the West Anglia main line. The new station provided rail access onto the wider Cambridge public transport network, interfacing with a guided bus service, and has helped ease congestion both on the city’s roads and for passengers using the existing Cambridge station.

The works involved the construction of three lines to serve a single-faced platform and island platform, both capable of accommodating up to 12-car trains. The new station building contains waiting areas, a new ticket office and modern toilet facilities. A footbridge provides access from the station building to all platforms via lifts and staircases, and access was further enabled by a new 450-space car park, an interchange with the guided bus-way and an extension of Cowley Road to provide a vehicle access route to the station.

The original platform design called for ground improvements due to poor conditions. The team used a lightweight polystyrene backfill that required minimal ground preparation. This improved installation times, reduced the amount of possessions required and reduced the overall cost of the station.

The scheme also incorporated green technology, including solar panels that provide up to ten per cent of the station’s power.

Two further VolkerWessels UK business units worked on this project. VolkerRail delivered the rail systems work for the station, along with associated remodelling work of the old Chesterton sidings yard, as part of the CP5 Multifunctional Framework in Anglia.

VolkerHighways also worked on the new station, installing street lighting, ducting, cabling, signage and street furniture and building the station’s two new car parks, along with a new plaza area and three new roads.

Lea Bridge

Lea Bridge Station re-opened to passengers in 2016, thirty years after it was closed. VolkerFitzpatrick worked with Network Rail and the London Borough of Waltham Forest Council to redevelop the disused station into a new facility which will be able to accommodate around 352,000 passengers a year by 2031.

VolkerFitzpatrick provided a full scope of civils, mechanical and electrical, energy and power, telecoms and permanent way, constructing a new station entrance, two new platforms, a new footbridge, passenger lifts and a station canopy.

Today, regular half-hourly services run from the new station to Stratford in five minutes, with connections to lines including the Jubilee, Central and the DLR, and Stratford International. In the other direction, towards Tottenham Hale, passengers have access to the West Anglia route to Stansted Airport and Cambridge and the Great Eastern main line to Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich.

Discussing this scheme, John Cox, managing director of VolkFitzpatrick’s rail division, said: “Working closely with our stakeholders within Network Rail and London Borough of Waltham Forest Council, we have delivered a new station that will provide a boost to the local economy and offer faster links to some of London’s crucial transport hubs, benefitting both residents and local businesses.

“Lea Bridge Station is a prime example of our multi-disciplinary project expertise, while also providing positive implications for the area, providing commuter links to wider areas of London, and opening the Leyton area for further growth. Our project team overcame the significant challenges associated with building the station next to an operational railway, and safely delivered this vital link between north-east London and Stratford.”

Hackney Wick

As part of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) made a commitment to provide a lasting legacy for the host boroughs surrounding the Olympic Park, including Hackney Wick and the surrounding area. This included a Network Rail-delivered scheme to transform the Overground station at Hackney Wick, delivering major improvements for residents and businesses in the surrounding area.

VolkerFitzpatrick, as Network Rail’s principal contractor, has delivered the cut and cover installation of a pedestrian subway box linking the north and south side of the station. It is also undertaking the construction of a new station building including ticket office, gate line, lift and stairs.

A key element of the scheme was a 99-hour blockade to accommodate the installation of the pedestrian subway over Easter 2017. The 2,000-tonne concrete structure was driven into place during the extended weekend, following its construction on the land next to the station.

In an operation that took only four days, VolkerFitzpatrick’s project team removed the existing tracks and platforms and excavated the land underneath to create space for the subway. The subway was then driven into place using self-propelled modular transporters, and the track and platforms were then rebuilt so that train services could run as normal the following week.

Discussing the works, John Cox said: “The installation of the pedestrian subway was a complex undertaking which went smoothly due to the forward planning and engagement of all stakeholders. We look forward to completing the remainder of the works to the station and enabling the benefits this will have once finished in spring 2018.”

Lea Valley Rail Programme

With the West Anglia main line (WAML) route currently at capacity, and with commuter demand increasing, major housing schemes along the route and the construction of Crossrail2 will result in the need for still more trains. The ability to meet this demand is limited by the capacity of the current line – only two trains per hour over a critical 5.5km section.

Network Rail selected VolkerFitzpatrick as the main contractor for the work to deliver upgrades to the WAML between Stratford and Angel Road – known as the Lea Valley Rail Programme. Due to be completed in 2019, the project will enable two extra trains per hour and help to boost regeneration in the boroughs of Haringey and Enfield.

In November 2017, as part of the £170 million programme, VolkerFitzpatrick successfully removed a 125-tonne bridge, which was used to carry the old track over the River Lea Navigation, by lifting it out in one 30-metre-long section. The intricate operation involved using a crane to lift sections of the bridge 30 metres into the air and over the existing line, which was closed to passenger services over the weekend. The new bridge will be installed early next year to support the extra track and two additional trains per hour running between Stratford and Enfield’s brand-new station, Meridian Water, which will replace the existing Angel Road station.

Planning for tomorrow VolkerFitzpatrick is committed to delivering challenging on-network schemes safely to the highest quality with minimum impact on rail operations. To achieve this, the business has established a strong permanent workforce and provides regular learning and development opportunities.

During 2017, VolkerFitzpatrick has undertaken a complete review of its corporate sustainability strategy, introducing a LIFE (Lead, Innovate, Futureproof, Evolve) sustainability model designed to make a real difference to the collective understanding of priorities and actions required to achieve business goals on the WAML programme.

In 2018 and beyond, VolkerFitzpatrick will continue with its aims to excel in collaborating with its partners to provide innovative and value-engineered solutions that manage costs and achieve efficiencies in delivery.

John Cox said: “We look forward to 2018 with great optimism, as we approach what is going to be a landmark period in UK rail history. We are involved in a large number of multi-year contracts and will continue to explore opportunities to deliver our full range of multi-disciplinary services, to provide unrivalled quality on the back of dependable safe delivery and a collaborative approach.”

Read more: Stations – what happened in CP5 and what’s happening in CP6?



  1. Have you tested trying to find platforms 5/6 when every other playform is accessed by escalator off the same corridor? Easy to find? NOT!


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