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the rail

engineer by rail engineers for rail engineers

Tales of the unexpected Replacing Spring Bank West bridge in Hull

Scandinavian rail tunnels



Earls Court Christmas closure keeps London moving

Clive Kessell looks at three specific tunnels

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the rail engineer • February 2014



Scandinavian rail tunnels

News 6 Stafford phase 2, Kirby to HS2, level crossing closures.

Clive Kessell looks at three projects at varying stages of completion

Gravesend remodelled


A new platform for the busy Kent station.

30 An exciting new Aventra

Earls Court: Christmas closure keeps London moving


How to renew track while keeping the football specials running.

MegaTech success


Constructing platforms from expanded polystyrene.

Tales of the unexpected


A new bridge at Spring Bank West, Hull.

Stirling work


Wholesale replacement of the bridge over Causewayhead Road.

Tunnel repair


Solving tunnel lining problems in France, London and Glasgow.


Cables on the wall


Hanging cables in tunnels is a complex subject.

Keeping London on ICE

Tunnel vision


Just how did they build railway tunnels in the time before machinery?

The Underground’s new Innovative Contractor Engagement process explained.

A Class Act: onboard energy measurement


With trains crossing borders, how do you calculate the electricity bill?

25 Years after Clapham: pride turns to despair

54 Signalling the positive


David Bickell comments on Clive Kessell’s paper.

Christmas Crackers


What did the men and women in orange get up to over Christmas?

Christmas at Stoat’s Nest


Twenty-six thousand hours worked to replace an important junction.

Island floods


Repairing 20 sites on the Isle of Wight.

Washout!76 After the sea defences failed.


On Track - to a greener future Green Infrastructure – plants on the roof and better drainage.

We’re looking to highlight the latest projects and innovations in



in the April issue of the rail engineer.

Got a fantastic innovation? Working on a great project? Call Nigel on 01530 816 445 NOW!




18-19 June 2014 Long Marston Warwickshire

The Largest Outdoor Rail Event in the UK Network Rail, in association with The Rail Alliance, the rail engineer and Macrail, is proud to present Rail Live 2014: a showcase for railway infrastructure. 2014, which marks the start of Control Period 5 (CP5), will see the whole rail industry continue to embark on one of the longest sustained periods of investment the railway has seen since Victorian tim es. Network Rail will be continuing its focus on safety and delivering value for money through working more closely with suppliers.

In partnership with

the rail engineer • February 2014


Editor Grahame Taylor

Production Editor Nigel Wordsworth

Production and design Adam O’Connor

Engineering writers

Honours all round! We’ve had rain before, and floods, and disruption, but this time there was the added ingredient of the looming Christmas network shut down. Thank goodness that the industry abandoned the nonsense of the PPM (public performance measure) and just concentrated on getting people home. I really wonder why we sustain a whole industry dedicated to generating these meaningless PPM statistics.

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Part of

Stuart Marsh extends the narrative by Network Rail’s Kevin Groves on the long list of damaged infrastructure caused by the Christmas storms. When they’re raging there’s little more to do other than let everything blow itself out – it’s the safest way. But now comes the reckoning and, don’t forget, in past times some of these lines would never have re-opened. Stoat’s Nest junction – you can’t believe the name can you – was one of those Christmas jobs that nearly bit the dust (or slurry) this year. As Collin Carr reports, it was four years in the planning, but looked very shaky as delivery routes gradually succumbed to flooding and landslips. With 16 sets of switches and crossings located within a one-mile stretch of a four track section of the Brighton line it’s not a place where there are many second chances. There’s no room to manoeuvre at Earls Court. A city that wants to party all the time - and then a football match at Chelsea! The travelling public, oblivious of the realities of life-expired trackwork and failed drainage, still wants a reliable underground railway. Chris Parker has been talking to John Hardy, LUL head of track renewals, to see just how everyone can still have their canapés and eat them! Cranes and high winds don’t go. Fortunately for the project to install an additional platform at Gravesend, there was a 15 day window to complete the work. As Nigel Wordsworth discovered, this gave enough flexibility to meet possession targets during the

Great Winds. With up to twenty trains an hour using the station, the new capacity is vital. A New Year’s honour for an engineer - now that’s a refreshing change! David Waboso, capital programmes director for London Underground, collected a CBE. Coincidentally, he also had an audience with Nigel to discuss ICE. That’s Innovative Contractor Engagement. Imagine what would happen if bidders’ costs were reimbursed and innovative ideas were paid for. Ideas begin to flow… There’s a current vogue for putting the decisions of public bodies into the public domain. It’s all in the interest of openness and transparency we’re told. But this overkill of information can have the very opposite effect. The run up to the cancellation of the £354 million sub-surface railway signalling contract was in the public domain for three months, but was it spotted? Nope. And many may not have noticed the rise in the cost to £600 million. Nigel has been speaking to Bombardier’s Jon Shaw, their head of engineering for Western Europe, about the Aventra project. This is a new train – really new in that it hasn’t been built yet. It’s a design from a blank sheet of paper that is evolving in variants according to target customers’ needs. One version may even venture away from electrified railways on stored energy. David Bickell went to the IRSE recently to hear a paper – a personal analysis - by Clive Kessell on the Clapham disaster. It cannot be over-emphasised the effect that this accident had on the whole signalling organisation.


Pride did indeed descend to despair. Twenty five years on and the world is a different place but, surprisingly, it is still possible for a train to disappear unnoticed. Venturing off-piste this month, Clive Kessell looks at three tunnels in Scandinavia. In their own rights they are all impressive, but what is surprising is that they all broadly serve the same purpose, but yet are built to different and demanding standards. It’s almost as if the specifications have been hijacked and there’s nobody around to plead for consistency, let alone pragmatism. Graeme Bickerdike has been doing research on tunnel construction long enough to have produced a video on the subject, complete with the impressive computer graphics for which he is well known. In his article ‘Tunnel Vision’ he contrasts the modern day techniques of driving tunnels below London for Crossrail – and driving is the operative word - with the raw, physical toil of hacking through rock, and goodness knows what else, in the Victorian era. In complete contrast, Graeme recounts the exploits involved in replacing Spring Bank West bridge in Hull. Just looking at the structure you will easily appreciate what a needy case this was. Resting on dodgy abutments and six spindly cast iron columns, it scored an unenviable double-red in the bridge bashing scale. It now has a brand new single span which was ‘driven’ in - as is the modern way. Although it’s only February, it’s time to reserve some vital slots in your diary. 20 – 22 May – Infrarail at Earls Court. 18 and 19 June – that’s Network Rail’s Rail Live 2014 at Long Marston. And for the adventurous there’s InnoTrans in Berlin 23 – 26 September. The year will be over before you realise!



the rail engineer • February 2014

Second phase at Stafford Work has started on the second phase of the £250m Stafford Area Improvements Programme, which will help improve capacity and reliability on the line between Stafford and Crewe New signalling will be installed in and around Stafford station and a new freight loop will be built in the area which will free space for much-needed additional passenger services on the West Coast main line. The work will include conversion of the existing postal siding to a new goods loop for use by freight traffic. In addition, new signals and cable routes will be installed and two signal boxes (Stafford Nos. 4 and 5) will be removed as area control goes over to Network Rail’s rail operating centre (ROC) in Rugby. As part of the project,

Platforms 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 at Stafford will be converted to bi-directional working and there will be some modification to the existing track layout. The majority of the work will take place at weekends and overnight and the improved signalling and line is due to be fully operational by summer 2015. A third phase of the project has been proposed (and is subject to a development consent order) which would see the construction of a flyover at Norton Bridge near Stafford which would untangle the existing lines and remove a major bottleneck on the route.

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Network Rail chief executive Sir David Higgins currently wears two hats. Until 30 March he remains at the head of the national railway infrastructure owner, but he has already started work at his new job as non-executive chairman of HS2 from 1 January. He is working himself out of one job and into the other. Now, it has been announced that Network Rail’s managing director of Infrastructure Projects, Simon Kirby, will be joining him at Bressenden Place in June. Simon, who at Network Rail was responsible for major refurbishment and construction projects that took up about two-thirds of the company’s entire budget, will then become HS2’s Chief Executive - Construction in September. At the same time, the current chief executive, Alison Munro, will become Managing Director of Development to oversee the passage of the hybrid Bill through parliament and the development of Phase Two of the project.

David Higgins and Simon Kirby worked closely together at Network Rail and will continue to do so at HS2. “I am extremely pleased that we have secured Simon to run what will be the biggest infrastructure project in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world,” David commented on the announcement. “Delivering this project in a way which is not just cost-effective, but also delivers its benefits to as much of the country as soon as possible, is a huge engineering project, but Simon has proven throughout his career that he is capable of taking on such a unique challenge.”

the rail engineer • February 2014


Close that crossing! The recent closure of a level crossing on the East Coast main line in Cambridgeshire means Network Rail has now reached its target, set in 2010, of closing 10% of Britain’s crossings - 750 in total - by April 2014. The majority of the closures are, like Cardells crossing in St Neots, footpath or user worked crossings. Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations for Network Rail, said: “Reaching our target to close 750 crossings in four years is good news for Network Rail, train operators and of course the public, but we cannot be complacent. There is much more we can do to make the level crossings that remain, safer and we will continue to introduce new technology, upgrade crossings to include lights or barriers where appropriate and work with schools, communities and other organisations to spread awareness of our safety message.” The work which Robin mentioned has, since 2010, cost £131 million. It has resulted in: »» 38 footbridges to replace

crossings; »» 57 new spoken warnings installed to announce “another train is coming” when one train has already passed through; »» Obstacle detection radar technology installed at 13 sites; »» New barrier technology installed at 33 sites which previously had open crossings; »» New warning lights installed at 16 crossings; »» 250 power operated gate openers installed to prevent vehicle owners crossing the tracks on foot unnecessarily or gates being left open; »» ‘Wavetrain’ sound vibration technology trialled at Whitehouse Priory View

Providing a reminder that there are just three months to go until Infrarail 2014 – which takes place at Earls Court in London from 20 to 22 May – opens its doors, online registration to visit the show free of charge is now open. Infrarail is this year’s biggest rail event and offers something for everyone. Already around 140 companies are planning to exhibit, presenting products and services covering every aspect of railway infrastructure. Alongside exhibitors’ stands, equipment and plant will be featured in the Track and Yard display areas. Visitors will also be welcome at the Civil

Infrastructure & Technology Exhibition (CITE) which takes place for the first time alongside Infrarail at Earls Court. The relaxed environment in which Infrarail takes place provides a great opportunity to talk to suppliers, learn about their innovations and plans and sample the mood of the market. Through a programme of free technical seminars hosted by the

crossing in Norfolk; »» GPS technology installed on the Marks Tey - Sudbury line allowing signallers to pinpoint a train’s location and provide better safety information to those requesting permission to cross; »» 21 crossings fitted with red light safety cameras to dissuade motorists from

jumping the lights; »» 13 mobile safety camera enforcement vans operated by British Transport Police; »» 100 new Network Rail level crossing managers; »» National TV and digital advertising campaign - See Track, Think Train; »» Rail Life schools awareness campaign.

Rail Engineer, it also offers early insights into significant industry developments. These seminars are one key element of a wider programme of Infrarail events open to all – keynote speeches from the Minister of State for Transport and other industry leaders, Project Updates covering Network Rail programmes and HS2, and The Platform, an open discussion forum addressing topical industry themes. And on a more informal note, the now familiar Networking Reception on the opening day

of the show and the following evening’s Infrarail Awards dinner will offer additional opportunities to make new business contacts and renew existing ones. Details of all these activities and more can be found on the Infrarail website, as well as the very latest list of exhibitors.

Register now for Infrarail 2014

A link on takes you quickly through the simple registration process. Preregistering to visit the exhibition speeds up entry and avoids a £20 charge payable for non-registered visitors.



the rail engineer • February 2014

HS2 protesters lose Three groups, who took their opposition to HS2 as far as the Supreme Court, have all lost their cases. HS2 Action Alliance Ltd, Heathrow Hub Ltd and Hillingdon London Borough Council appeared before a panel of seven judges on 15/16 October 2013. They had requested a judicial review of the Government’s decision to promote HS2 which had been published as ‘High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain’s Future - Decisions and Next Steps’ on 10 January 2012. This ‘DNS’ document included confirmation of the Government’s high speed strategy and a

summary of its decisions, and set out the process by which the Government intended to obtain development consent for HS2 through two hybrid bills in Parliament. The three organisations commenced judicial review proceedings in April 2012.

Their claim was upheld in relation to certain aspects of the consultation process but dismissed by the Court of Appeal on other issues in July 2013. An appeal was made to the Supreme Court on whether the DNS should have been preceded by a strategic environmental

assessment (SEA), and secondly, whether the hybrid bill procedure, as currently proposed, will comply with the procedural requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment directive (EIA). The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. Is that now an end of it?

Crowded Crossrail


new report has predicted that passenger numbers on Crossrail could be higher than expected.

The report was prepared by Arup to a brief from New West End Company, inmidtown, the Fitzrovia Partnership and Transport for London, working with Crossrail Ltd, Camden Council and the City of Westminster. It looked at Crossrailrelated pedestrian and public transport demand projections for Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon station street-level areas. Arup’s projections show that Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon stations could together deliver some 250 million people to Central London in the year 2026. This figure represents some 65 million more passengers in 2026 than the (2004) Crossrail forecasts would have projected and approximately 165 million additional passengers per year than currently use the stations.

Looked at another way, Arup’s analysis indicates that Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon stations will deliver some 745,000 people to Central London per day in the year 2026, representing around 195,000 more passengers per day than the (2004) Crossrail forecasts would have projected and roughly 510,000 than use those stations today. These figures combine passengers delivered by London Underground and Crossrail. But if only half of them arrive on Crossrail, that’s an extra 65 trains a day based on 1,500 passengers per (very full) train - which will clearly be a challenge for the potential operator. Crossrail 2 is already being planned. Perhaps we need Crossrail 3 and Crossrail 4 as well.

the rail engineer • February 2014


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the rail engineer • February 2014

28th December

29th December

3rd January.

1st January.

2nd January.




the rail engineer • February 2014 4th January.

5-6th January.

5-6th January.

15th January.



the rail engineer • February 2014


ravesend station in Kent is a busy place. It is 28 miles from Charing Cross on the North Kent line through Dartford, London Bridge and Waterloo West. It is also used by the high-speed Javelin service, joining HS1 near Ebbsfleet to travel on to St Pancras.

Ten trains an hour depart from Gravesend to one of the main London stations. A corresponding number call in going the other way, towards Faversham, Gillingham and Maidstone. The station itself has only two platforms, one each side of the tracks, with two through roads in the centre.

Upgraded and lengthened The North Kent line as a whole is being upgraded to take 12-car trains. This would involve platform extensions to both platforms. However, as the station is so busy and has a large London-commuter market, the decision was taken to add an extra platform. The way this would be achieved would be to convert Platform 1 to a bay platform and renumbering it as Platform 0. The first through road would be removed

and replaced by an island platform which, although it would be between the new bay and the remaining through road, would only access the latter which would be numbered Platform 1. Platform 2 would remain, but all three platforms would be built/extended for 12-car trains. Multi-disciplinary construction specialists Spencer Rail was then awarded a design and build contract to take the project from Early Contractor Involvement stage through to completion. Spencer brought Amey in for the track and signalling design work, undertaking the civils design in-house. Planning started in February 2013 under early contractor involvement, and work began on site in June with compounds being organised. As the contract progressed, the team would take over more and more of the station car park.

New footbridge The initial work consisted of undertaking surveys, identifying any buried services that could cause problems, and clearing redundant ‘clutter’ from the site. An old water main, unused for 20 years, would come out and an old water tower structure needed to be demolished - however, the bricks would be saved. Crossing the tracks between the two original platforms was an old, lattice footbridge. This was not DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant and also, of course, didn’t access the new island platform. It would therefore have to go and be replaced by a modern bridge with lifts as well as stairs.

Christmas blockade works completed for removing major bottleneck in Ipswich Other work included:

Between 24 and 30 December 2013, Spencer Rail completed a vital part of the Ipswich rail chord project which will provide more capacity and fewer delays on the Great Eastern line. This brings the project a step closer to completion.

• Breaking the old bridge into three sections using a 1,000 tonne crane • Removing the existing track and ballast stones • Installing a new steel deck bridge


· Installing the concrete walls of the new bridge, lifted into place using cranes • Installing new tracks and junctions for the new Chord linking the East Suffolk line and the London Liverpool Street to Norwich line

During what was one of the wettest and windiest festive periods on record, we successfully demolished and removed the old steel bridge weighing 190 tonnes over the River Gipping.

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the rail engineer • February 2014

In fact, the footbridge would turn out to be one of the key elements of the project. All of the major work was planned for a 15-day blockade over Christmas and the New Year. However, Tom Kerins, Spencer’s operations director, explained that the prospect of bad weather during that time could prevent the project being completed. “When we assessed risks to the project which could affect the whole job, the lifting operations, including lifting the new footbridge, came out as one of the highest risks. Bad winds over Christmas could jeopardise completion on time. So we brought that element forward - ahead of the main blockade.” Lift shafts were constructed on both platforms to the west of the existing bridge while the station was in operation. Then, in week 34 (mid November) the new bridge was lifted in over a 27 hour possession. Although the lifts were not operational, the steps were - so the new bridge could take the place of the old one. That was then dismantled over the next two weeks, an operation not without its challenges. “The station building was constructed around the footbridge,” Tom recalled. “So we had to make quite a complex plan to disassemble the old bridge and extract it from the station.” There was good reason to be careful. As an historic item it was to be saved and sent to the East Kent heritage railway. That work was completed by the end of November, so that the station building and platforms could be made good, ready for the major work over Christmas. Positioning the new footbridge early had the additional benefit of avoiding Christmas shopper syndrome. Gravesend has a very congested town centre, and having large cranes about the place during the last few shopping days could have caused additional disruption.

Blockade With all the preparations in place, the blockade took effect at 01:30 on 22 December. A replacement bus service would operate between Ebbsfleet and Higham until 6 January. Using a set of PEM-LEM machines, 200 metres of track was lifted from the through road which would be replaced by the new island platform. The track was not only saved but laid in the old Platform 1, which would become the new bay Platform 0, as that track was worn out and would be scrapped. All third-rail replacement was successfully carried out by Pod-Trak. The second through road, which would be retained, was slewed over towards Platform 2 using road-rail vehicles. This created still more space for the island platform and, as the six-foot was quite wide in that location, it was not a difficult job to do. Once clear, the site of the new platform was excavated down to the base chalk and strip foundations poured. That is, apart from around the site of the new footbridge


the rail engineer • February 2014

Lifting in the central lift shaft.

lift shaft where solid foundations were built to form a ‘coffin area’ - an anti-collision zone that would protect the bridge. Once the foundations for the new platform were in place, and similar ones constructed for the extensions to the two existing platforms, the pre-cast concrete sections could be lifted into place. Delivered by Charcon before the blockade started, they were taking up most of the station car-park so it was good to start getting them moved. A total of five cranes were on site, one 500 tonne and four 200 tonne supplied by Ainscough. The weather was so bad, with high winds and heavy rain, that four days of lifting were lost. However, by rescheduling other work, and positioning key platform elements using fork lift trucks, this didn’t delay the overall project. The other heavy item was the third lift shaft for the footbridge. Once the platform elements were in place, this was hoisted into position with the lift car already inside it. Working with the lift supplier, and with an enormous amount of packing and packaging protecting it, everything went off without a hitch, it obviating the need to install the car separately while the station was going together around it. Brickwork to the liftshafts was successfully completed in horrendous conditions by Civil Rail Solutions. A new motor room on the island platform would be completed later - using those saved heritage bricks.

Platforms and track Miller Fabrications, which also manufactured the footbridge, supplied all the steelwork for the new platform canopies. This was also lifted in and then glazed in situ. Drainage was added, and the platforms

fitted out with passenger information systems, CCTV, lighting and all the other mechanical and electrical services needed. In the meantime, the trackwork was continuing. With all of it being moved or replaced (including the track on Platform 2), bringing in the eleven engineering trains had to be carefully planned so that there was a track to put them on. Signalling was also reworked and repositioned by Amaro Signalling, working to Amey’s designs. The gantry across the platforms was removed, and several new sets of signals installed along with new S&C. Because of the significance of the project, and the danger of it overrunning due to the weather, Network Rail’s route delivery director for Kent, Lenny Aristodemou, was a regular visitor to the site. On New Year’s Eve, the newly appointed chief executive of Network Rail, Mark Carne, came to have a look - his first ever visit on track at a railway work site.

Despite all of the challenges, Spencer Rail’s operations director had them covered. Working closely with Paul Devoy and David Lindsay of Network Rail, he took steps to make sure that the overall timetable was met. He added about 40 people to the 900 in total already employed on site and used road-rail vehicles in place of cranes where he could. As a result, the newly-rebuilt station was handed back in the early hours of 6 January, in time for the first train to enter the station at 04:33. Despite the foul weather, and the additional hazard that brought, there were no reportable accidents during the blockade. Some tidying up remained - the lifts won’t be operational until February. However, Tom Kerins and his team from Spencer Rail can be justifiably proud of the work they did over a windy and soggy Christmas.




the rail engineer • February 2014

Earls Court


Christmas closure keeps London moving


arls Court is a crucial link in the London Underground (LUL) rail network, unlocking the way to the whole western section of the District Line, as well as being an important station in its own right. The track has been in a poor state for years and, in order to ensure safety and some sort of reliability, there have been far more maintenance interventions than should normally be necessary for such infrastructure as is present here. This maintenance has meant both excess costs and undesirable disruption to services as the works have been undertaken. LUL has, understandably, been considering how best to rectify this situation for the long term through track renewal works. The issue has been not what to do but how to programme it for the best possible balance between efficiency, effectiveness and convenience for the customer. In parallel with the consideration of this particular project, the organisation has also been undertaking a strategic review of the way it does track renewals. The routine has been the use of weekend line closures, something not universally popular with the travelling public! So, in moving away from this approach, LUL aims to minimise the impact on passengers through developing methods to renew during normal closure periods at night but, when suitable, to utilise major blockades to ‘blitz’ large amounts of work. This was the case for Earls Court as described by John Hardy, LUL head of track renewals, and his colleagues in the Track Partnership (a collaboration between LUL and Balfour Beatty Rail), Steve Naybour, business improvement manager and Ram Ramburn, project manager.

Three out of four The overall works required at Earls Court consisted of renewal of the four platform lines and of the points at the west end of the station. This was too much to be undertaken in one session, even if the ‘major blockade’ approach was to be used. It was decided to split the works into two and to tackle the ‘easier’ part first, this being the majority of the plain line relaying. The layout of the station, which has four platforms, meant that only three of the four lines could be relaid in one blockade so as to leave the fourth available for the large number of engineering trains that would be needed to bring in materials and remove spoil, 90% of which would be recycled. Christmas week is the quietest week on the LUL system, and Christmas Day is the only day of the year when the whole network shuts down. It was therefore determined that, despite the fact that Chelsea FC were due to play at home on Boxing Day and again on 29 December, this was the week to plan for. In the end the plan for 2013 was to renew the plain line of Platforms 1, 2 and 4, which vary in

length up to 220m. This would mean renewing the decks of two subways that pass beneath Platform 2 and two sections of slab track (one in Platform 1 and the other in Platform 2) as well as the plain track. The intention is to renew the fourth line (Platform 3) and the west end pointwork in a similar blockade at Christmas 2014. Lessons learned from the ‘simpler’ 2013 works will assist in seeing through these more complex tasks.

Christmas morning “Delivering a multi discipline project in the tight confines of Earls Court which was kept open for service was a mammoth challenge,” Ram Ramburn explained. The 2013 works started early on Christmas Day, probably before even the most excited children opened their Christmas stockings. Six days of intensive work followed, interrupted by the Chelsea matches, and resulting in the handing back of the new track and structures on time at the start of traffic on New Year’s Eve. The platform lines renewed had never been relaid in living memory, so there was a mass of heavily contaminated spoil to be removed. Indeed, this amounted to about 2,200 tonnes to be shifted by train from the site. 28 engineer’s trains were required to remove this burden or to bring in the new materials for the project. The complications of combining the track, slab and subway renewals in one blockade were added to by the problems of drainage

the rail engineer • February 2014


and underground (excuse the pun!) services. There has been a serious problem with the drainage at the west end of the station. Several smaller drains were known to have collapsed under the tracks, and a major drain some eight metres below was feared to be on the brink of doing the same. Meanwhile there were no real records at all of the pipes, cables and so on that existed below the tracks. What was known was that there are 22kV cables running parallel to the tracks on both sides of the station, clearly not things to be interfered with! Ground penetrating radar was the solution to the services issue. It proved extremely effective in detecting the potential obstacles and hazards. Most of these were diverted out of the way, but there were three that had to be worked around, and the 22kV cables alongside just had to be protected, highlighted and avoided too. The eight-metre-deep drain was successfully relined and restored to full structural and functional health, and a further 270 metres of new drains were installed. Given the need for them to be used during the works, the two subways had to be protected by erecting crash decks inside them before their reconstructions could begin. The new pre-cast concrete beam subway decks were installed above these after the old superstructures had been cut up and removed.

Reopening for fans Safe passage of passengers through other parts of the works was also provided for in order to allow the football traffic on the two match days already mentioned. In fact, on Boxing Day it was necessary to reopen the two centre tracks of the station for the Chelsea match that day. “One of the proudest achievements of the project was keeping the Piccadilly Line open at the same station while our major works where completed and handing back to support the two Chelsea games. This is a good example of our focus - keeping London Moving while doing much needed infrastructure replacement to keep it fit for London,’ Steve Naybour enthused. Earls Court is a residential area, and so it was essential to take full precautions against noise and dust pollution affecting the neighbours. Noise screens and tents were used around the noisy activities, particularly the breaking out of slabs. The effectiveness of these precautions was seen when there were no complaints received about the project at any time. No lost time accidents were reported despite the estimated 18,000 person hours devoted to the works. Hot meals were provided to every shift of workers and on Christmas Day a full

(Above top) Installing new concrete sub way bridge, replacing the life expired timber construction. (Imediately above) Works progress on all fronts with customer interface on the left and festive lights on the right highlighting hazards. turkey dinner was served to the team of about 100 who were at work then. People were giving up their Christmas for the project and it was considered appropriate to recognise this in such ways. The completed works will ensure a much more reliable railway, with great reductions in maintenance requirements. Stepping distances between trains and platforms have been improved and made more consistent by realigning the platform copings to match the new track alignments. The project was delighted to have received a VIP visit from London Underground managing director Mike Brown during the course of the undertaking. He was shown around the site by John Hardy and was well pleased with

the outcome of their labours. No doubt he is looking forward to seeing the other ‘half’ of the station renewals carried out equally successfully by this time next year.

LU managing director Mike Brown is briefed on the works by John Hardy, head of track programme.

Powering the rail industry since 2001 Fast track your career


the rail engineer • February 2014


success W

ith Network Rail and the train operators constantly striving to provide more capacity, several programmes have been introduced nationwide to lengthen trains on various routes. These longer trains naturally require longer platforms, so a number of stations are being remodelled with both extended platforms and repositioned trackwork and signalling. To avoid disruption to existing services, as much of the work as possible is being carried out overnight and on short weekend possessions. Network Rail has encouraged innovation in this area, looking for more modular forms of construction to cut down on handling costs and time. In May 2008, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) commissioned a report on the MegaTech system in use in the Netherlands, gathering the views of ProRail, the Dutch infrastructure maintainer, which has used the system for ten years. The ORR’s report demonstrated that, when compared to traditional methods of platform construction in the UK, the MegaTech Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) system could save as much as 30% on the direct cost and also significantly reduce the duration of proposed possessions for platform construction. In simple terms the MegaTech EPS system is a precast concrete slab on top of an EPS block on a sand screed bed. MegaTech Projects Ltd undertook to introduce the MegaTech EPS

system into the UK market and demonstrate, through a trial site with Network Rail, that the system could offer the anticipated programme and financial benefits.

Network Rail Forward Thinking A trial site at Sanderstead in Surrey was selected as part of the East Grinstead platform extension programme. The works would require extensions to two platforms of 43 metres and 57 metres respectively, giving an overall length of 100 metres. Prior to awarding the trial contract to MegaTech Projects in January 2010, Network Rail sent three representatives to the Netherlands to visit some completed stations. They met with ProRail and discussed all aspects of the platforms from design through to installation, including public liaison and any maintenance issues, so they could get a feel for the whole-life cost. Following this positive research, MegaTech Projects and its

designers had to demonstrate to Network Rail that the MegaTech EPS system complied with Railway, British and European Standards. It also had to be shown to meet all the requirements of chemical damage, fire resistance, vandal protection and, where appropriate, any stipulated Local Authority planning conditions.

Benefits of System As the system was being utilised for the first time in the UK it was important to ensure that all standards, etc were fully met. This involved translating Dutch documents into English and further demonstrating, through design and calculations, the technology and science behind the system. The system approved for the trial

site offered the following benefits: »» On a site with Road-Rail Vehicle (RRV) access to only one side, the ease of construction reduced the time needed on site and the associated requirement for possessions and isolations; »» The lightweight nature of the system lends itself perfectly to sites with poor or problematic ground conditions; »» There is no requirement for concrete foundations and/or piling - even on sites built on an embankment where the EPS is used to level off the bank with no piling required; »» Existing cables and troughs can be incorporated into, under or behind the platform while access chambers can be incorporated into the structure;

the rail engineer • February 2014

»» The prefabricated nature of the base and the slab means that in-situ site operations are minimised, perfect for sites with limited and/or restricted access; »» Finished platforms are solid with no gaps, meaning no issues with litter collection or access for maintenance; »» The modular nature of the system facilitates re-alignment should the station be subject to further re-design at a later stage; »» The material production process significantly reduces the environmental impact on the use of natural resources such as aggregates.

Network Rail Drive for Improvement Once the trial site at Sanderstead was completed in late 2010, Network Rail was eager to develop the design. Every aspect of the installation was reviewed to identify what could be improved, and how costs and time on-site could be reduced, whilst still ensuring complying with all standards. Network Rail’s head of engineering, route asset managers and the fire officer were all been involved in developing the system into a standard design which would allow the system to be used anywhere in the UK mainland. The system was approved as a standard design confirmed by Network Rail at the end of 2012. The improvement review confirmed that:

»» The excavation depth could be reduced to the bottom of the sleeper, removing any conflict with the track support zone or zone of influence; »» Lighting columns and fencing could be bolted down onto the finished slab to avoid individual post foundations; »» The copes and tactiles could be cast into the prefabricated slab; »» The slab could incorporate a cast-in drain; »» The slab thickness could be reduced as the copes were now cast in; »» All services (existing or new) could be incorporated under, within or behind the structure; »» A fire protection board would replace the initial concept of a polyurea coating to the EPS.

Carillion Works Including Peterborough Following approval, MegaTech Projects is currently undertaking a serious of projects for Carillion and Network Rail including the East Coast IEP stations and the £43 million redevelopment of Peterborough station. This involved a 67 metre long x 4.70 metre wide platform extension under a road bridge and overhead wires with restricted possession and isolation availability. The works were a critical element of the handover of the Peterborough station and had


to be complete by the end of the Christmas blockade. There were the usual railway related issues but, with willingness and determination on the parts of Network Rail, Carillion and MegaTech Projects, the platform extension was completed and opened to the public on time. Said Network Rail’s Stephen Fletcher, route asset manager, “we are pleased with the outcome at Peterborough. The platform was installed safely and efficiently. This and the versatility of the product was the driver to choosing it.” George Rowe, director of MegaTech Projects, was pleased with the way the development and approval process had gone: “Network Rail and its engineers are often maligned for being obstructive and set in their ways. However, the attitude shown by all the departments and individuals we have been dealing with has been exemplary. “The willingness to encompass not only our innovative system but any ideas that could offer time and cost savings demonstrates that they are committed to achieving their targeted stringent cost savings. “The successful delivery of Peterborough repays the commitment shown by Carillion and Network Rail in our system. We look forward to dealing with the individual challenges brought about by specific sites and delivering many more stations.”



t. 01698 263 277 e. Completed platform at Peterborough


the rail engineer • February 2014

Tales of the

unexpected T

he annual Foot in Mouth Award - yes, there really is such a thing - is bestowed on the public figure who utters the year’s most bewildering sound bite. UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom triumphed effortlessly in 2013, offending most of the developing world and all of womankind in just half-a-dozen choice phrases.


And with that convoluted preamble, so ends my pitch for the 2014 Award.

Movers and shakers Opened in July 1885, the snappilytitled Hull Barnsley & West Riding Junction Railway and Dock Company aimed to smash the monopolistic dominance of the North Eastern Railway which controlled every train heading into Hull. Congestion was stifling prosperity and local businessfolk were up in arms about it. The solution, engineered by William Shelford, involved driving a railway through the Wolds to link Yorkshire’s coalfields with a new deep water dock on the Humber’s north bank.


An unlikely previous recipient was former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld who generally enjoyed a favourable reputation for his media performances. He was, though, occasionally prone to a touch of the John Prescotts, as evidenced by his notorious briefing on Iraq’s weaponry in 2002: “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” Tortuous perhaps, but those words will resonate with any engineer whose carefully planned works have been undone with spanners thanks to voids in their knowledge, amongst them the team charged with replacing Spring Bank West bridge in Prescott’s political home of Hull.

(Above) Service diversions and soil nail grout loss brought significant delay to the programme. (Below) The original bridge with its vulnerable support columns.

The line crossed Spring Bank West - now a key artery into the city - via the bridge that forms the subject of this story. Set at a skew of 56 degrees to the road, the structure comprised three 39-metre longitudinal girders and a trough deck, with a shallow construction depth of just 650mm. Whilst this ironwork was almost lifeexpired, two other issues exerted greater influence on the decision to reconstruct the bridge. Intermediate support for the girders was provided by six cast iron columns - three either side of the main highway which narrowed from dual to single carriageway to squeeze between them. With precious little breathing space when larger vehicles passed, the highest bridge-bash risk ranking of double-red had been attained despite a row of concrete protection units being placed along both kerbs as mitigation. The columns had succumbed to wayward traffic on more than one occasion. Also identified were problems with the substructure. Corers carrying out investigation work on the abutments had previously described the brickwork as the softest they had ever encountered. The lively nature of the bridge at the deck ends - resulting from the skew and the absence of trimmer beams - was probably aggravated by this weakness. Temporary works, in the form of triangular stiffeners, were successful in reducing the movement, but with docks traffic expected to rise from the current level of around eight trains daily as economic prospects brighten, it was seen as important to provide a longer-term solution, one which must make passive provision for reinstatement of a second track.

Room for manoeuvre Network Rail appointed J Murphy & Sons as principal contractor for the reconstruction late in 2012, responsible for assembling the specialist team which included Cass Hayward as civils designer and Mabey Bridge to manufacture the deck. Acting to constrain options for the



the rail engineer • February 2014

new structure was the S&C of Walton Street Junction, 40 yards to the north on a falling gradient. This brought with it the need to minimise any track lift. Also, the existing soffit level of 4.986 metres above the road had to be maintained, with no scope to drop the roadway due to a surfeit of buried services. As a result the chosen solution involves a single 33 metre clear span with reinforced concrete abutments wrapped around the existing ones, a 450mm track lift and a direct fix of the rails to the steelwork using Pandrol Vipa baseplates. Cantilevered walkways feature on both sides, incorporating cable troughs below their FRP gratings. Mabey Bridge regards the new deck as amongst the most complex it has ever undertaken. Working 24/7 due to tight timescales, the structure was fabricated at its Chepstow factory and trial-erected there following the development of a critical assembly sequence, encompassing its 315 tonnes of plate steel and 9,272 bolts. It was then stripped down and shipped to Hull where it took seven weeks to build up again. The trimmer to main girder connections demanded that the deck was set out accurately in plan above Shay Murtagh’s precast concrete imposts. Working at height, the unique build process proved challenging, with a bolting-up sequence having to be devised that ensured correct alignment of all the connections.

(Above) Piling work beneath the bridge was constrained by the limited headroom. (Top) The formwork support system for the abutment pour proved highly effective.

the rail engineer • February 2014




Weighing more than 500 tonnes, the deck and imposts completed their 200m journey in two hours, carried by four modular transporters.

Corridor of uncertainty Site mobilisation got underway in May 2013, with the main work scheduled for a 77-hour possession over the August bank holiday. When the project first appeared on the radar four years ago, the land adjacent to the bridge on its south side was just scrub; since then though it had been acquired by Keepmoat for housing development. Fortunately this had not advanced as quickly as anticipated such that building work could be rephased, allowing the area closest to the railway to be occupied by a compound. An immediate priority was to issue notices for the diversion of services, making way for the piles that would support the new abutments. On the south side of the road, plans and trial pits had indicated the need to move one gas main, electricity and street light cabling,

together with a 150mm water pipe. Yorkshire Water believed it also had two 600mm mains running parallel with the columns on either side of them, well out of the way. However Murphy’s own investigations discovered both these large mains to be nearer the abutment, with one of them beneath the 150mm pipe. Due to the density of services, the only way to divert this was to first move the other 600mm main into the road. As this phase of work concluded, brickwork was exposed which gave every sign of being the abutment toe. This too would have to be removed prior to the piling, but it soon became clear that this was actually the face of a concrete cap hiding another collection of services. Although these were redundant they still had to be taken out, in addition to the actual abutment toe below them.

the rail engineer • February 2014


Many avenues were explored in an effort to claw back time. Weekend shifts were instituted, as was overnight grout pumping. But, at the end of July, the decision was taken to replan the core works. Traffic management restrictions imposed by the city council effectively ruled out three weekend opportunities in October as they coincided with Hull’s annual fair, one of the biggest in Europe. The next available window was a 56-hour possession over Christmas, extended to 57½ hours following discussions with the docks. Spring Bank West would be closed for a twoweek period either side of this.

Compounding the delays brought by these tribulations were difficulties with remedial works to restrain the old abutments, involving the installation of 48 soil nails which were each Up against it expected to take around 0.3 tonnes of grout. Whilst the postponement bought some The reality proved frustratingly different. Grout breathing space and allowed the resumption loss was so great - particularly at a lower level of normal weekday working, several challenges - that the average quantity needed for the still remained. Piling, undertaken by Van Elle, south abutment was 5 tonnes per nail, with a was the next critical operation but suffered peak of 16 tonnes, whilst the north side nails constraints imposed by the limited headroom averaged 5.5 tonnes, peaking at 18 tonnes. The under the deck. Here, a smaller rig had to impact was considerable. “We were supposed be deployed installing 450mm diameter to install three soil nails a day, but we were piles whereas 600mm was possible outside only getting in one,” recalled Darryl White, the bridge footprint. A total of 23 piles per Network Rail’s scheme project manager. “So abutment were sunk through clay to the chalk you can see that for every week we worked, we below, a depth of around 15 metres. The value lost two in the programme.” of the soil nails was demonstrated by the nuts 519.50_mbadvert_railwayengineer_190x130_v3_Layout 1 17/01/2014 09:42 Page 1

forming part of their head assembly: having been hand-tight when fitted, they had become absolutely solid after just one day of piling. Each abutment took two weeks to complete, starting on the north side where space was most restricted. Having constructed the reinforcement cage, PERI’s time-saving modular brace frames were used to support the substantial formwork demanded for the concrete pour, secured in position by Dywidag anchors cast into the pile cap. The system suitably impressed Murphy’s senior site manager Mark Simpson. “If you think about pouring 150m3 [SUPERSCRIPT 3] in one go, you’re talking about a 400-tonne load. This was effectively a freestanding structure and it didn’t move a millimetre.”

Storm before the calm The p-way realignment - including the 450mm lift and a 500mm slew - extended across the bridge onto both the docks branch and the steeply-graded Walton Street chord. It was delivered by VolkerRail over three summer weekends, as originally planned. Other possessions were secured in the run-up to Christmas to complete tasks such as the installation of back-of-wall drainage and ballast retention. S&T cables were spliced,

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Four run-on/run-off slabs were craned into place before the holes were drilled for their baseplates.

extended and transferred to a series of scaffold towers on the bridge’s west side, all to save time during the core works which got underway at 19:30 on Christmas Eve, after the last train had passed. Having been stormy over the preceding days, the weather - that ultimate known unknown - was on the team’s side, the wind subsiding sufficiently to remove any doubt about the vital crane operations. Initial activity was concentrated on removal of the track and ballast, then burning off the deck fixings. The intention was for four self-propelled modular transporters (SPMT) to jack up and move the old deck to stillages in the compound. To prevent any significant deflection, beams had been welded across its ends and web stiffeners installed prior to the lift. However the deck was found to weigh slightly less than expected - around 200 tonnes - resulting in the outer two transporters not taking any load. As a result, the configuration was changed to only use two, positioned centrally. This resulted in the 200-metre journey lasting an hour longer than anticipated. As they become part of the furniture, we increasingly take for granted the advantages brought by SPMTs. Controlled here by one man and two joysticks, these

four - supplied by ALE - carried the new 500-tonne deck and imposts to their intended resting place in two hours. As they did so, the brickwork of the old abutments was broken down to the level of the new ones and the ground excavated to accommodate a 7.5 metre geogrid ballast transition. Lunchtime on Christmas Day saw operations start for the Ainscough crane, with 18 lifts to complete comprising precast concrete wing wall units and ballast retention behind the imposts and at the walkway ends. Four run-on/run-off slabs were also positioned to take the skew out of the structure; the holes for their Vipas were drilled in situ to avoid any alignment issues. Baseplates had already been fixed on the deck and brought to approximate level by fitting slave rails. The track was then relaid and tamped across the transitions using an RRV attachment. With an additional shift arranged at Hessle Road box to assist in track circuit testing, the possession was handed back at midnight on Boxing Day, five hours ahead of schedule. Spring Bank West was reopened on 31 December, a day early thanks to careful planning and five more days of collective exertions, gifting a little New Year cheer to the locals. The old deck was jacked down, cut up and sent for recycling during January.

All’s well that ends well As it mostly benefits freight services, very few column inches have been devoted to Spring Bank West’s new £4.2 million bridge, the media preferring to focus its attention on things bigger, shinier and more passengerfacing. But this has been a complex project, considerable in scale. That it eventually came together was a function of tenacity, teamwork, hard graft and a willingness to adapt. To borrow another of Rumsfeld’s proclamations, delivered this time with his feet on the ground: “Amidst all the clutter, beyond all the obstacles, aside from all the static, are the goals set. Put your head down, do the best job possible, let the flak pass, and work towards those goals.” Those involved here did just that, overcoming challenges that far exceeded what was apparent when the go-button was pressed.

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the rail engineer • February 2014


Scandinavian rail tunnels

(Lead and below) Aerial view of the Malmö tunnel project. (Bottom) Triangeln station, Malmö.


unnels are always a fascination for engineers, be they road, rail or canal. Perhaps it is the idea of disappearing into a dark chasm that entrances the human brain. Whatever the reason, it is a fact that many more tunnels are being built today than ever before. Much of this is because of increasing environmental concerns over the impact of new surface railways. Also, with the need to build new urban transport systems, there is often no other way except to go underground.



The more famous rail tunnels of past and present are known to pretty much everyone - Channel Tunnel and Crossrail being well publicised in the UK - but what is happening elsewhere? A recent visit to Sweden and Denmark revealed some surprising tunnel projects that are virtually unheard of in Britain. Yet they represent some real engineering challenges that may set new standards for construction in due course. Three specific tunnel projects are described; one that is complete - one that is being built and one that is only at the design stage.

Malmö tunnel project Sweden’s third city took on a new business and tourist perspective with the opening of the Øresund Link to Copenhagen back in 1999. Linking the two cities by a bridge / tunnel combination and incorporating both a motorway and rail connection, it made travel between the countries much easier and faster. This has resulted in a massive upsurge in traffic and, for the rail network, the creation of congestion at both ends. In Malmö, the main station was once only a terminus with all passenger trains having to reverse if their destination was beyond

the city. Mixing all these movements with increasing volumes of freight traffic was causing a real problem and public complaints became a dominant issue. The Swedish authorities therefore took the brave step of planning the provision of through platforms at the station and to provide two additional stations (Triangeln and Hyltie) in the city centre area so as to enhance local journey opportunities at the same time. The only way to achieve that has been to build a new line in tunnel, some 6km in length with two single bores and periodic cross passages. Tunnelling technology has progressed considerably since sub-surface railways were first built. Equally, risk factors and safety requirements are better understood with associated technology to ensure nearperfect reliability and availability plus safe evacuation should anything serious occur. Boring the tunnels is almost the easy bit and the excavating machines soon got to work to create the rail tunnels and station sites. At Malmö, the new underground platforms occupy an extensive area of the station so this construction has used cut and cover techniques similar in style to the new St Pancras Thameslink station in London.

the rail engineer • February 2014

Equipping the tunnels with all track, electrification, signalling, and other ancillary systems was to become a virtual project in its own right. The Authorities insisted that safety standards should be no different from those on a surface railway. Getting approval for an operational railway meant satisfying the authorities that all the engineering content could deliver the required safety edict. It could be argued that the onerous requirements placed upon the project were over the top and that this railway would take little cognisance of other underground lines that have been operating safely for decades. However the world moves on and safety provision can become ever more demanding. An important element has been the provision of emergency access points and five of these have been required including ones at Malmö Central and Triangeln stations. The prime concern is a train fire and 24 hour fire brigade cover is insisted upon. This is provided by a central team but contracts are in place with the city fire brigades to assist if an incident develops that overwhelms the dedicated team. Other systems needed to support the safety regime are fire alarms, de-watering, fire ventilation, normal ventilation, lifts and escalators, tunnel lighting, pressurised water and CCTV plus, of course, resilient power

Macrete NCE 1-2 page April 13-paths.indd 1

supplies and a SCADA network to link it together. The new line has been in operation since 2010 and has achieved its objectives. Not only is the link to Copenhagen more reliable but important new suburban traffic has been generated.

Hallandsås Tunnel North-westwards from Malmö is the important main line to Gothenburg and Oslo. Opened in 1885, it is known as the West Coast Line (why is it that West Coast lines always seem to achieve notoriety?). It is mainly double track but has a single track section with steep inclines through the Hallandsås ridge, the land


mass being 10km wide and 40 km long. This has long been a constraint to operations and a means of increasing capacity is required so as to achieve 24 trains per hour and a doubling of freight train weights. Various options were considered but as is so often the case, the land around the ridge is sensitive and the only real solution was to build a tunnel. The ridge is mainly hard rock combined with seams of soft rock and clay and with a very high natural water pressure. The decision has been to build two single track tunnels each 8.7km long and nine metres in diameter. Work began in 1992 but was stopped in 1997 until the problem of intrusive water could be resolved.

Tunnel boring machine Åsa at Hallandsås.

26/03/2013 13:51


the rail engineer • February 2014

(Above and below) Inside Hallandsås tunnel.


A revised electric boring machine of some 2430 metres long, 3200 tonnes in weight and with a cutting head of 10.6 metres diameter was procured. Known as Åsa, it could cope with the geological conditions including high water pressure that were being encountered and work recommenced in 2003. The machine came from Herrenknecht from Germany and cost €50M.

If high water flows are expected, the rock in front of the machine is sealed with cement grout that is pumped into the borehole through apertures in the cutting head. A watertight tube is created as part of the machine design by the insertion of concrete segments (some 40,000 being needed for the complete two tunnels) after which any remaining space between the rock and the segments is filled with pea gravel and cement grout. Other parts of the ridge consist of poor quality rock that is inherently unstable when disturbed. To counter this, the rock is stabilised with a freezing solution in advance of the cutting head and becomes sufficiently stable for Åsa to then move forward. A gradual thawing out then occurs with the concrete segments being strong enough to hold the tunnel in position. As is customary nowadays, safety has to feature prominently and 19 cross passages are built for evacuation purposes as well as enabling maintenance areas and resilient cable routing. Both tunnels are now complete with only the cross passages to finish off. The main tunnel contractor has been Skanska-Vinci HB. Work now has to start with the equipping of the tunnels for rail traffic. This will follow current technologies for a design speed of 200kph. Some 28km of catenary, 465km of cable and 35km of cable route will be required. Initially, the signalling system will be a proprietary Bombardier product which is capable of being upgraded to ERTMS Level 2. GSM-R will exist in both tunnels but with separate cables for transmit and receive channels to avoid interference risks. A multiple repeater system is being installed to additionally allow public cellular services in bands 2G/3G/4G ranging

from 800MHz to 2.6Ghz plus the emergency services radio channels. Every other cross passage will house one or other of the required repeater equipment. Rolling stock will be the existing train fleet which will require retro-fitting with radio equipment. Completion will be in late 2015 with initially 100 trains per day. Trains with dangerous goods will not be permitted through the tunnels so the existing line will be kept in service at least for a while. The emergency management system is not yet finally decided but it is not the intention to have a smoke control or forced ventilation facility, nor an elevated walkway. There will be lighting and CCTV coverage. Total cost is €1.3 billion (around 11 billion SEK) for the project.

Fehmarnbelt Tunnel As part of a modernised transport corridor from Denmark to Germany, works will include the upgrading and electrification of the rail line from Ringsted to Rødby (to complement the new high speed line from Copenhagen to Ringsted) with en route a replacement Storstrømsbridge linking South Zealand to the Lolland-Falster islands as the existing bridge has cracks in it. There will also be a new tunnel linking Rødby to Puttgarden in SchleswigHolstein. This is currently a ferry connection and the major constraint to improved journey times. A treaty between Denmark and Germany in 2008 led to various options being considered for crossing this gap but the decision was taken in 2011 to adopt an immersed tunnel solution. This will be a major engineering challenge and the resultant design has come up with a 40 metres wide tunnel incorporating two road sections and

The portal at Lolland. (Inset) a section of the immersed tunnel showing the wider road tunnels alongside the two rail sections.

the rail engineer • February 2014


Two views of the portal at Fehmarn two rail sections. In effect it will be a rectangular box of 18.1km in length which will be a world record. Total cost is expected to be €5.5Bn plus €1.2Bn and €1.0Bn for the Danish and German hinterlands respectively and €0.5Bn for the new bridge. A joint venture between Rambøll, Arup and TEC has been established (known as the RAT team!) for the main design work with the main tendering process started back in September 2013. The method of construction will be to dig out the seabed so as to create a flat bottom, then float the tunnel sections out and sink them into position. The dredged material will be re-used as reclaimed land of some 330 hectares to include new beaches and wildlife habitats including a vertical cliff. The tunnel will not be weather dependent and will be well lit but nonetheless there is a disaster potential. The edict has gone

out that it must be demonstrated to be as safe or safer than an open road or bridge. An intelligent management system will be devised primarily for the safeguarding of road traffic and will include: »» No queuing in the tunnel section and unidirectional traffic; »» Robust ventilation including longitudinal ventilation from portal to portal; »» Over pressure system for smoke control; »» Fans to assist exhaust extraction; »» Fire fighting and fire suppression systems to cool hazardous substances; »» Pumped drainage; »» Automatic incident detection. Construction work has yet to begin but the plan is to open the link for traffic in 2021. The world will be watching progress with interest.

Three, all different So, three different tunnel projects, all built or being built for different reasons and using different construction methods. It is also apparent that safety regimes differ from country to country and the rules for tunnel construction can vary from project to project. Whilst striving for absolute safety may be desirable, a pragmatic approach should recognise the many hundreds of rail tunnels that have been there for decades, with only a tiny number of instances where safety has been a real concern. All three tunnels have or will consume considerable public financial expenditure and getting value for money has to be an objective for any projects of this size.


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the rail engineer • February 2014

Stirling work W

hen Network Rail identified that the rail bridge which takes the Highland main line over Causewayhead Road in Stirling was due for maintenance, an initial plan was proposed to strengthen the deck in order to extend its already 100-year-long lifespan. On closer inspection, however, it was clear that the age and condition of the bridge - a riveted wrought iron construction spanning 20 metres between large stone abutments on either side of the road - meant that wholesale replacement with a newly constructed deck was the more economical option. Despite the change of approach, the urgent need to take the time-expired bridge out of operation remained, and this created significant time pressure for the project. At the point the decision to fully replace the bridge was made, arrangements had already been made for a disruptive possession, so the clock was ticking. The agreed possession date was just three months away, creating a hard deadline for the replacement to be carried out. Story Contracting was brought in to project manage the final design, construction and installation of the new bridge. Design work began immediately and was carried out by civil engineering specialist Hyder

Consulting. A steel U-Deck construction was specified, with integrated concrete cills at each end shaped to sit on the existing stone abutments. Ian Purdham, rail operations manager at Story Contracting, explained: “With the design agreed, we worked up a project schedule and it was clear that the timings were going to be tight. We got the procurement process underway for the longer lead-time elements - specifically the concrete and steel components. In fact, only two suppliers were able to meet the timescales we specified in the tender.” The steelwork fabrication was carried out by Mabey Bridge in Chepstow, while the concrete casting was carried out by Northern-Irelandbased Moore Concrete. The size of the bridge and its constituent parts meant that the new deck would need to be assembled on site, and this would bring its own set of challenges.

Space constraints The position of the bridge close to the centre of Stirling in a residential part of the city meant that identifying a suitable space for the assembly of the new bridge was not straightforward. Ian Purdham outlined the problem: “Although an area of open common was available adjacent to the bridge site which was the right size and would provide the level of unhindered access we would need, we knew it would be challenging to be granted use of the space as it was the site of the famous battle of Stirling bridge and is a popular space for recreational use by local residents. “Following negotiation between Network Rail, Story Contracting and Stirling Council, the urgency of the project was acknowledged and necessary permission was granted. We prepared the site for the arrival of the newly manufactured steel and concrete elements. There were no delays in the process and these arrived on site as scheduled. The

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the rail engineer • February 2014

timings of the assembly process on site meant that any delays could have jeopardised completing the bridge assembly ahead of the possession.

Heavy lifting As soon as the last train crossed the bridge on the Friday evening before the possession, a small fleet of on-track plant and excavators was deployed to cut the rails and remove all of the ballast surrounding the ends of the existing deck. This material was placed on the deck itself as this


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was the quickest and easiest way of transporting the materials away from the work site - a tactic that helped minimise the required possession time. This done, a 28-axle, 112-wheeled, self-propelled motorised transporter (SPMT), supplied by ALE, was positioned underneath the 493-tonne deck before hydraulically lifting it from the stone abutments on which it was sitting. The vehicle then carefully transported it away from the work site and positioned it on pre-arranged trestles. These would later lower it to the ground so that it could be broken down. In order to minimise the environmental impact of the project, as much of the material that came from the breaking down of the old deck as possible - including much of the old metal and aggregates - was categorised and sent for recycling while the rest was disposed of in accordance with the relevant waste regulations. The newly constructed replacement deck, which had been elevated on separate trestles, was then picked up by the SPMT and manoeuvred gently into position. Once it had been placed on the adapted and screeded abutments and its positioning accurately checked, the new bridge was ready for track to be re-laid. With the new ballast in place, sleepers and rails laid, the track was tamped, geometry checked and handed back to Network Rail to reopen the line with time to spare.

Public relations As well as being technically demanding, the project also featured

another challenge in the form of the need to maintain the good will of local residents and others affected by the works. Ian Purdham said: “From the word go, this project attracted a lot of attention from the public, including some initial concern about the disruption that would be caused. This was taken into account throughout the core weekend, ensuring pedestrian and driver safety throughout the road closure. The team on the ground were also briefed on communication with residents and the public to ensure all were kept informed of progress. “On the Saturday when the most dramatic stage of the works was carried out, more than a hundred people gathered to watch, so a degree of crowd control was needed. “Maintaining positive public sentiment is something that Network Rail takes very seriously, so the final part of the process was to return the site to the residents in an improved condition from the way we found it. As well as reinstating the turf in the area, we also carried out some minor additional works for the local allotment group, based on a site that connected to the work site. This involved reinstating an access route in order to allow disabled users to enjoy the facility. “In the end, the feedback we had from the public - not just during the core works but also during the run-up period and the site clean-up - has been extremely positive. “I’d like to say thank you to the project team for completing this demanding project while keeping the public on side.”

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the rail engineer • February 2014

Kevin Bennett

Tunnel Repair


unnels are dynamic structures. When running through a mixture of rock, gravels and earth they are subject to various forces as the ground constantly moves around them with the seasons and the weather. Even those through solid rock can suffer from the ingress of water as it seeps through cracks and fissures. However, it is older tunnels which suffer most. Brick linings distort under pressure and the combination of water and ice does them no good at all. Small wonder, then, that tunnels need a fair bit of maintenance.

Fixing a French lining The problem is not confined to the UK. Harfleur Tunnel is located on the Paris to Le Havre line in Northern France between Harfleur and Havre-Granville Stations. It is 48 metres long, eight metres wide, six metres high and curved on a 1200mm radius. Two personnel protection refuges exist on each side. The brick lining of 900mm thickness was showing its age with various defects evident: »» Erosion of the lower side wall bricks by up to 80mm; »» Detachment of rings of bricks inherent in the stretcher bond brickwork - evidenced by sounding hollow under hammer tap testing; »» Impact damage from rolling stock in the haunch area. (Lead) Breaking out brickwork for the first rib. (Right) Using a laser scanner to assess how much brickwork to remove. (Far right) Protecting the track with geotextile and old sleepers.

Specialist contractor Freyssinet was awarded the contract to both strengthen the brickwork and spray the entire tunnel with a minimum of 80mm thick concrete. This was to eradicate all areas of exposed brickwork in the tunnel and so permanently eliminate the risks associated with falling brickwork. A seven weeks possession was granted as several structures on this route were to be upgraded at the same time. A track-mounted laser was manually wheeled through the tunnel to measure the position of the surface of the brickwork to ensure there was enough clearance to add the concrete lining without fouling the dynamic envelope of future rolling stock. Where space was insufficient, predominantly at the haunches, data was

recorded to show how much cut-back was required. Preparatory works included protection of the track to allow access by road vehicles and protection of the catenary. Only then could Freyssinet commence sandblasting the tunnel walls and crown to remove all unstable surface material. Where layers of stretcher bond brickwork had become detached from the tunnel wall, stainless steel pins 350mm long and made from 8mm wide twisted strip were driven by rotary percussion into 6mm diameter holes pre-drilled into the tunnel wall. This ‘Torsinox’ system doesn’t require resin fixing of the pins as they are such a tight fit. The pins were spaced 1000mm vertically and 660mm horizontally. The sprayed concrete lining needed to be reinforced with welded steel mesh reinforcement. To hold this securely in place during the spraying, 16mm diameter

the rail engineer • February 2014


(Top) Rib break-out. Note the protected catenary. (Bottom left) Diamond saws cut grooves for the ribs. (Bottom right) Concrete spraying.

L-shaped reinforcing bars were embedded 450mm into the side walls and secured with resin.

New ribs The widening of the tunnel at the haunches had the potential to seriously weaken the structure, so the work was sequenced to allow construction of reinforced concrete ribs at 2.5 metre centres followed by removal of the brickwork between the ribs. Freyssinet cut the 350-500mm deep recesses for the ribs with a 1200mm diameter diamond saw, arm-mounted on a vehicle. Run-off water from the sawing operation was collected, de-silted and cleaned before disposal. The brickwork was broken out using a pecker on a mini-excavator, the reinforcement cage was inserted and the rib was concreted by spraying to a depth of 350mm. Once the rib concrete had cured, alternate panels of brickwork between the ribs could be broken out first, followed by the others. Brickwork was broken back sufficiently far that at least 80mm of concrete could be applied without fouling the dynamic envelope. The precut mesh sheets were fixed to the wall and the concrete sprayed on. All sprayed concrete was delivered using the dry process where the pre-mixed but dry concrete constituents (cement, sand and small aggregate) are fed to the nozzle by hose before being mixed with

water at the point of spraying. It tends to give higher quality and greater strength than the wetmix alternative. Complementary works included stabilising the brickwork of the tunnel entrance wing walls using stainless steel pins, after which 100mm thick sprayed concrete was applied, again with reinforcing mesh.

At Connaught, the solution was to inject fast-cure polyurethane resin into the joints. This technique was first verified on a five metre stretch of tunnel to establish the depth, angle and spacing of injection holes as well as the likely consumption of resin. Following its total success, the method was extended to the 500 metre long approach ramps with the surface of the tunnel invert being made good with a locked-in cementitious chase along the joint line once the water flow had ceased.

Lessons learned in Glasgow This was not the first such problem that Freyssinet had faced. Its expertise had been gained on earlier contracts such as Glasgow Underground where over 60 tonnes of cementitious grout and 3,000 litres of polyurethane resin were injected

to fill voids and seal leaks in a 100 metre long stretch of tunnel close to Buchanan Street Station. The contract involved extensive monitoring of the tunnel to ensure the integrity of the linings while the injection was carried out during nightshift possessions of the track. Careful coordination of plant and materials was essential to ensure the tunnel and station could reopen at the end of every shift. As infrastructure gets older, and is being asked to carry more and heavier traffic, problems stemming from old brickwork, water ingress, inadequate clearances and failing supports will only get worse. That should keep specialist contractors such as Freyssinet busy for some time. Kevin Bennett is sales and technical director for Freyssinet UK

Enlarging the bore In the case of Harfleur, it was possible to restore the dynamic envelope by fairly moderate alteration of the tunnel section. But what happens when major enlargement of the bore is required? One solution is to drop the floor but that can bring its own complications. A recent example occurred in Connaught Tunnel, an abandoned tunnel dating from 1878 which runs beneath the Royal Docks and is now being altered to permit the passage of Crossrail trains (issue 100, February 2013). The invert of the tunnel had to be lowered by approximately one metre, halving the original thickness of the concrete floor. However, significant amounts of water began to enter into the tunnel through construction joints and cracks which had been exposed by the cutting operation. Freyssinet has a range of sprayon waterproof coatings, sheet linings and leak sealing injection services on offer to tunnellers.

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the rail engineer • February 2014



Cables on the wall

ook out of the window as your train passes through a tunnel and what do you see? “Not a lot,” could be the answer, but if your window is close to the tunnel wall and the light shines out from the carriage as it does in the London Underground, you’ll see lines and lines of cables hanging from the wall, signalling control cables, data communications cables, maybe even power cables - all suspended just outside your window, appearing to move up and down in space as the train goes past. Of course, they aren’t just hanging there. They are fastened to the walls of the tunnel by a variety of cable brackets and hangers, some may even be lying in perforated metal troughs or in cable containment.

Designing for applications Those brackets have been specifically designed to do the job. Their shape, strength, and even the coating on them, all vary with what they are being asked to do. Every tunnel can be unique in its requirements and as such the metal framing support and cable management needs to be flexible enough to cope with these needs. It is important that, at the engineering stage when considering a suitable metal framing and cable management solution, some key factors are taken into account. These include environmental life cycle of the products, load carrying capacity of the cable management and the support framing, flexibility/breadth of range and special requirements. Selecting the right material finish to suit the environmental needs dictates the life expectancy of the product solution. Galvanizing is the most widely used form of corrosion resistance and is chosen because it offers a proven and cost effective solution for longevity of resistance to atmospheric corrosion. By increasing the thickness of the

zinc coating, the life expectancy of the product against corrosion can be extended. However, galvanising is not the only solution and other specialised finishes may be suitable or even an improvement. Understanding this can be beneficial in reducing costs of a project. Deciding how to split the runs for the cables and facilities that will run through the tunnel will ultimately decide the loading requirements for support framing. Ensuring the support framing loading capabilities are met can be tricky, but by ensuring the range has full BS standard test certificates brings security to the selection. Traditional standard straight framing has been used but, with the curved walls of a tunnel, there has always been some compromise having to be made. By using a curved support to match the tunnel radius and adjustable brackets, maximum support and horizontal accuracy can be maintained where needed when it comes to carrying the facilities and cabling.

Nearly a century Unistrut® began developing and manufacturing cable support products during the 1920s with the original Unistrut metal framing system. Over the years, the company has added an extensive cable management range to its portfolio including cable ladders,

cable trays, cable baskets and steel trunking, all available in a variety of finishes to suit different applications. “We work closely with the clients’ project team, which provides them huge benefits in delivering their project on time and within budget. This partnership approach ensures that we optimise all aspects of the system design and means that we work together with the client to drive costs out of the project”, says Tony Kinsella, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) sales director. “The best engineered solution at the right cost is our aim when supporting our customers. Our metal framing loading software and published slip-loadings are just a couple of ways that we support our customers, and our engineers would be glad to visit and demonstrate best practice.” It is often the case that an off-the-shelf solution is unable to answer all of a project’s needs and requirements - especially when there are specific location, timing, or environmental issues to consider. In these situations, a bespoke or tailored solution can offer the flexibility and cost effectiveness needed to successfully deliver the project. Unistrut’s ability to assess, design, build and provide ongoing project lifetime support for its systems has proven to be invaluable on global major projects. As Unistrut celebrates its 90th anniversary, the company prides itself as much today on the quality of its products as it did in the 1920s. Paul Pryor is EMEA Marketing Director for Atkore International

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the rail engineer • February 2014


omething extraordinary is happening under London. Six mechanical navvies, bewildering in their efficiency, steer Crossrail’s tunnels through tangled subterranean history towards an end-point later this year. Forever hungry, Ada, Phyllis, Victoria, Elizabeth, Mary and Sophia each mine and line over 20 metres daily to tolerances measured in millimetres; verified by inertial navigation systems, scrutinised from comfy chairs. As enterprises go, this one is exceptional and yet that reality rarely impinges on our consciousness. Why don’t we awe anymore?


When something extraordinary happened two centuries ago - and it very often did - inquisitive crowds gathered, cheering and waving flags. Great engineers became celebrities of the day, without ever taking their kit off or eating worms in a jungle. Men of vision and tenacity - Locke, Vignoles, Stephenson, Brunel - forged national transformation. Our leaders today seem content to tinker, deciding what colour to make fag packets. Trawl through the newspaper archives and it’s clear that tunnels were sources of intrigue and wonder to the Victorians: portals into a new age. But how were tunnels constructed in a Time Before Machinery (TBM)? Keen for answers, I spent much of last summer producing a short film about it, targeted at those amongst the public with an underlying curiosity, but perhaps also of interest to the engineering fraternity. Written insight is not scarce on this subject, but generally accepted as the definitive work is Practical Tunnelling, a tome authored by Frederick Simms who secured the role of resident engineer on the South Eastern Railway in 1836, thereafter recording the tribulations encountered with Bletchingley and



Saltwood tunnels. Contractor Charles Gripper published another book, Railway Tunnelling in Heavy Ground, in 1879, apparently unhappy that Simms had “rather hurried over his explanations of mining operations”. Noteworthy amongst the many papers is one exploring the seven-year construction of the first bore at Woodhead - extending for three miles between Sheffield and Manchester which had been committed to the charge of Wellington Purdon, a surveyor from Killucan, County Westmeath, who was just 23 when he took on the project in 1838. There’s little point cluttering up this space by repeating the film’s content. If you fancy investing 20 minutes of your life on the basics of Victorian tunnelling, a link to the film is provided below. Remember, the script considers a generic tunnel - it is not applicable to every one in existence. In these pages we’ll reflect in more detail on some of the challenges that had to be overcome.

Line of sight Progress with lengthy tunnels was usually expedited by sinking construction shafts, allowing them to be driven from intermediate points as well as their ends. Sighting towers, known as observatories, were erected as fixed reference points for setting out purposes; the tunnel line, and hence the shaft centres, could then be established at any point over the hill. Although substantially built, very few still stand as their valuable fabric was mostly recycled when work had advanced sufficiently. But survivors can be found at Merstham in Surrey and Bramhope on the Leeds-Harrogate line, in brick and stone respectively. Often 30 or 40 feet high, the towers housed a staircase spiralling around a central pier, the latter being entirely freestanding so as not to be influenced by any movement of the building. On top of it was a stone table supporting a transit instrument, typically incorporating a 30-inch focal length telescope which looked out through openings at the top of the tower. Provision of a basic telegraph system enabled the engineer to direct his assistant with the ranging pole.

The excavated ground had to be supported by huge timbers propped off transverse beams.

the rail engineer • February 2014


Few disciplines have benefited more from the technological revolution than surveying. It’s a very digital business these days. Simms, however, helps us understand just how far it has come, describing the means by which the tunnel line was transferred down a shaft. Two fishing lines with 25lb plumb-bobs, secured to a triangular timber frame erected over the shaft, were dropped down either side of it and suspended in water vessels at the bottom to hold them steady. The lines were then ranged from the observatory, with notches cut into the timberwork for each one to rest in when the correct position had been set. Such was the potential for disturbance by the wind that this was an activity restricted to calm weather. Imagine then the difficulties facing Wellington Purdon high on the Pennines with shafts almost 600 feet deep. He was an advocate of copper wire and oil barrels. However Heath Robinson this might all sound, the results speak for themselves. Purdon claimed a divergence of no more than three inches in line or level between Woodhead’s shafts, around 750 yards apart, whilst Simms asserted that “in not one of the junctions could any deviation from accuracy be detected.”


The arch was built up from both sides until a key of about 18 inches was left. This was then filled, building forwards from the end of the last length.

the rail engineer • February 2014



With the centreline marked, navvies mine the heading of Saunderton Tunnel in 1903.

That sinking feeling It’s hard to conceive what life must have been like at the bottom of a shaft, without the benefit of today’s foul weather gear. Progress downwards was made at a rate of perhaps six feet per week, with two 12-hour shifts worked daily, except Sundays. Shafts acted as sumps, collecting ground water from the locality, prompting navvies to use straw in an effort to stem the flow. This often proved futile and work had to be suspended whilst better pumps were brought. The need to power them was one factor in the early development of steam engines. To give you

an idea of volumes, 2.4 million tons of water were pumped from Woodhead’s five shafts whilst they were being sunk. Water was inconvenient; running sands killed. These loosely-packed layers within the rock can become fluidised, removing support for anything overlying them. Excavation work in such conditions was therefore attended by considerable danger. On 16 July 1835, a collapse at the base of one of Watford Tunnel’s shafts resulted in a vast crater opening at ground level, swallowing all around. Below, ten men were buried; their bodies took more than a month to extricate, after another shaft had been sunk alongside the original. This still offers momentary relief from the darkness when passing through the tunnel on the West Coast main line. That so many construction shafts were sealed and backfilled - rather than being retained for ventilation - has left an unwelcome legacy, with records of their location often lost and the land above developed. Typically, the fill material is supported on a timber frame above the arch; if the fill becomes saturated, rotting and crushing of the timbers can follow, leading ultimately to their failure and the load’s transfer onto the lining. Of the five hidden shafts in a North Yorkshire tunnel, closed in 1958, three have given way since the Seventies. Investigations to locate such shafts continue today, their significance in liability terms not lost on duty holders.

Really boring Pilot tunnels, known as headings and pushed outwards in both directions from the bottom of shafts, performed a number of roles when eventually joined together: to help drain and ventilate the workings, to provide a PHOTO: RECORD OFFICE FOR LEICESTERSHIRE LEICESTER & RUTLAND/S W A NEWTON COLLECTION

Piles of bricks give some scale to the logistical challenge facing Louis P Nott, the contractor responsible for driving Saunderton Tunnel.

the rail engineer • February 2014


Four navvies use a skip to descend a shaft at Cowburn Tunnel. Construction took four years, from 1888 to 1892.


Time after time, inquests heard evidence of habitual rule breaking, albeit - as now - theoretical compliance did not always sit comfortably alongside practical needs. On 21 April 1876, miner Richard Parsons part of the gang driving the Cymmer Tunnel - was making up charges immediately above his explosives, “in defiance of orders and in disregard of warnings and reprimands”. Inches away, in the cabinet behind him, was 150lb of dynamite. A single candle illuminated the scene; when it fell over there was only one possible outcome. Parsons and a 13-year-old boy, John Clements, were “reduced to atoms”; 11 others were also lost. The workforce proved managerially problematic. Recklessness was endemic, though rarely did it have such devastating consequences as at Cymmer. Long and arduous shifts brought with them a culture of playing hard afterwards. Navvies fought in lumps and drank themselves into oblivion, going missing for days afterwards. Why then, according to Gripper, was five shillings worth of beer paid as a bonus for every length of tunnel completed? Combine that with the impossibly-high risks involved in the work - excavating ground above your head with a pick, for example - and a perfect storm brews.

Against all odds

means of communication between the shafts and, most importantly, to confirm the correct line and level before the tunnel was excavated to full size. At Bletchingley and Saltwood, the headings were claustrophobic less than 3 feet wide and just 4 feet 8 inches high: a real pain in the neck for the labourers pushing skip-loads of spoil to the shaft for disposal. It’s clear from Gripper’s book, supported by newspaper accounts and photographs, that more generous headings - between seven and ten feet square - had become the norm before the 19th century was out. Using mining techniques, 6-8 feet of progress was generally made with a heading in 24 hours, depending on ground conditions. But by the 1870s, an assortment of productivity-boosting devices had emerged, driven by steam or compressed air. Noteworthy was a rock drilling machine, patented by Major Frederick Beaumont of the Royal Engineers and operated by the Diamond Rock Boring Company, of which he was chairman. The machine was set to work in Cymmer Tunnel, as well as Queensbury, Well Heads and Lees Moor on the Great Northern’s HalifaxKeighley line. Powered by an 8hp portable engine, it comprised an array of diamond-tipped steel tubes rotating at 250rpm - cooled by water and delivering a daily advance of about 20 feet. The first genuine tunnel boring machine was developed in America in 1851, working to a similar principle as modern TBMs, but it proved less productive than the established drill and blast method. Two other machines, built to Captain Thomas English’s patent, operated successfully as part of an early Channel Tunnel scheme until politics and security fears brought its abandonment in 1882. Through chalk, the 2.13 metre cutting head drove more than 3,500m of tunnel at a highly creditable 25 metres per day.

Home safe every day? Read the Daily Mail and you’d probably conclude that health and safety is now a national scandal. For different reasons, that charge could certainly be levelled at the safety record of Victorian railway companies. The sustained loss of life prompts many to infer that companies had a disregard for the navvies’ welfare, but such an assessment would be over-simplistic.

What I personally find most inspiring was the Victorians’ apparent fearlessness. No matter how daunting the difficulty, they never seemed fazed by it, even if financial ruin loomed. Most of our tunnels were accomplished without any mechanical aids beyond those worked by muscle. Consider a typical two-track tunnel, advancing forward in sections - known as ‘lengths’ - of 15 feet. For each length, a gang - comprising a ganger, three miners and nine labourers - would excavate perhaps 180 cubic yards of material, supporting the ground with 20-foot long timbers propped off transverse beams. Four bricklayers and six labourers would then take over to form the lining, consuming huge quantities of mortar and possibly 30,000 bricks. Remember, these had to be manufactured and transported, not just laid. And all this took place at height, in choking bad air and constrained by darkness. Each length took two weeks. The final act involved a boy creeping into the space above the brickwork to pack the voids. Then the process would start again. The logistics were mind-boggling, most of the strain being taken by horse power. At Saltwood on 16 September 1842, horses hauled 4,916 water barrels (each 1,310lbs) and 464 spoil skips (1,050lbs) - collectively weighing 3,092 tons - up nine working shafts, a total lift of 555,192 feet (105 miles) for a cost of about £37.

Toil and trouble You will have gathered by now that I am a tunnel junky and have an anorak to prove it. But there can be no denying that the stories they tell are compelling, if only we could bring ourselves to listen. Yes, let’s celebrate Crossrail and the first-class cutting-edge engineering it represents. We should though not lose sight of how it all started. Without the immense sacrifices made in the pursuit of progress burrowing through hills - and the resolve shown during construction, we would have no railway network.

To see Graeme’s video on how the Victorians built tunnels, visit Many thanks to and for use of their fabulous archive photos.


the rail engineer • February 2014

An exciting new

Aventra B

ombardier’s Litchurch Lane factory was formerly the Derby Carriage and Wagon Works. Built in 1876 by the Midland Railway, the long workshops are ideal for building carriages on a production line and, as today’s multiple unit trains are essentially a mixture of powered and unpowered carriages, that method continues.

the rail engineer • February 2014



the rail engineer • February 2014

Today, up to four production lines turn out trains for national railway operators as well as both sub-surface and deep tube trains for London Underground. At present, the factory is the UK’s only train manufacturer. Even when Hitachi’s new plant at Newton Aycliffe is complete in 2015, Litchurch Lane will still be the only integrated works where trains are designed as well as assembled. Around 350 engineers work on designs not only for the UK but for other Bombardier sites around the world. For example, the new double-deck trains for Switzerland were designed in part at Derby.

Electrostar For the last few years, designs for British railways have revolved around the Turbostar and Electrostar platforms. This family of multiple unit trains first saw light in 1998 when the diesel-powered Class 168 first emerged from Derby. The electrical multiple unit (EMU). Class 357 followed the following year. Since then, a total of four diesels (Classes 168, 170, 171 and 172) and six EMUs for the UK railway (Classes 357, 375, 376, 377, 378 and 379) have emerged from Derby, as well as the Gautrain which, after the first few complete units, was then supplied as a kit for final assembly in South Africa. While the product has been developed over the fifteen years of its life, it is still recognisably an Electrostar. It is a good train - operators like it and, with its aluminium body, it is light and accelerates well. But the basic concept is 15 years old, so Bombardier recognised it was time for a change. A new design was developed, and that formed the basis of the offer that Bombardier made to supply trains for Thameslink. Ultimately, that offer wasn’t successful, but it had started the design and manufacturing teams thinking what type of train Derby would be producing for the next ten years or so.

Completely new Jon Shaw is Bombardier’s head of engineering for Western Europe, Middle East & Africa. He explained how everything came together. “Although we had the new design, which we had called Aventra, we took the time after we heard we hadn’t won Thameslink to ask ourselves whether there were customer needs that we weren’t meeting.

“We also looked at what we do well. We have engineers who have been designing UK trains and building them for years. And that’s something we feel is extremely unique because maybe somebody else might assemble some trains in the UK, but what they don’t have is the blank sheet of paper, sketching it out, the brains of it is all here. “And then we looked at it and thought we’ve also got depot engineers from Strathclyde to Surrey, all over the place, all looking after these trains in the field. How are they performing? Is there something we can do better there? “So that was how Aventra was reborn. We took the opportunity to go around and talk to the market and to our customers, we’re extremely fortunate that they’ve willingly given up a lot of their time to do that. Also, what we’re also doing very differently is that we have the suppliers in here working with us on joint design development initiatives. “We put forward a business case to develop Aventra version two in about October last year. This provisioned for a multi million pound investment, paying for around 100 people for that period. Bombardier agreed the funding for this plan, which was a major sign of confidence and commitment in our design and this team.” The most obvious sign of that funding is a new office block at Derby. In between the long, blackened brick workshops dating back to the original Carriage Works is a modern, modular, two storey light grey building with Aventra branding over the door. Inside are about 100 Bombardier engineers, supply chain managers, manufacturing and maintenance staff, some taken from the main design team and some new faces, working in conjunction with designers and engineers from the major component suppliers. “We basically started from scratch, and in a completely different way. It isn’t engineering-led any more. It’s a joint collaboration of our depot people, our manufacturing guys, procurement and engineering.” The train has been broken down into four main zones with two or three suppliers working on main subsystems within those zones. The idea is that on specific aspects of the design, such as door mechanisms, or heating and ventilation, or toilets, the specialist suppliers of that equipment have a lot to contribute to the overall package.

Looking forward ten years Starting with a clean sheet of paper has meant that Jon and his team have been able to look at the bigger picture. Electrostar grew organically, every new class was a development of the one before. So all of them have different features, different train management systems and different components. Aventra will be a single modular product, capable of being easily modified for different applications but in each case referring back to the core design. So whether the actual class will be a 90mph metro train or a 125mph main-line express, it will have the same systems and components as its basis. In fact, Jon thinks that the distinctions are becoming blurred anyway.


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For over 175 years, we‘ve been building trains for Britain. And we continue this long tradition. Along with investing in future generations of young, innovative engineers, we are creating dynamic new trains, such as BOMBARDIER AVENTRA, for Britain‘s passengers – today and in the future.

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the rail engineer • February 2014

“We looked ahead for ten years and spoke to potential stakeholders and customers, including the Department for Transport, as well as Transport for London, and all of the operators and train leasing companies and passenger focus groups, and they told us what they thought was going to happen over the ten years ahead. Essentially, four styles of train will be needed. One will be the dedicated metro trains, running all day at high capacity. Then there will be slow-speed and medium speed commuter trains, as we have today. Lastly, there is what we see as a new market, which is high speed commuters - they can serve a commuter market, but when they go onto that main line, they’re going to hit 125 mile an hour and so they don’t delay the main intercity trains.” As part of these discussions, another need was identified. Aventra will be an electric train, but how would it serve stations set off the electrified network? Would a diesel version be needed as well? So plans were made for an Aventra that could run away from the wires, using batteries or other forms of energy storage. “We call it an independently powered EMU, but it’s effectively an EMU that you could put the pantograph down and it will run on the energy storage to a point say 50 miles away. There it can recharge by putting the pantograph back up briefly in a terminus before it comes back.” This technology will be tested and developed this year in conjunction with Network Rail, using a Class 379 in East Anglia for trial purposes.

Whole life cost Having a train that is light, and will run away from overhead wires will keep operating costs down. That is important to train operating companies. “We spoke to all the different stakeholders,” explained Jon. “What they told us in terms of what they wanted was that it’s not just as simple as first past the post - cheapest - it’s actually about a 50/50 split between the whole life cost and the first capital cost. That makes it a bit more difficult because we’ve got be competitive on the first practical cost, but additionally we have to offer a really high availability, strong reliability, combined with much better energy consumption and less track damage.

So we’ve got to have the whole package. Because of this, we focused on making sure the first customer price is competitive, and also it’s going to have a 40 to 50% lower maintenance price than Electrostar, and a significantly reduced energy cost.” Having all the experience of Bombardier’s depot staff around the country is key to keeping reliability high and maintenance costs low. They have contributed ideas to the new Aventra programme which will benefit both areas. “So it’s a really strong balance, and that’s why we needed everybody together,” Jon stated. And then, with his tongue partially in his cheek, he added: “Because if we left it essentially to the engineers, they probably would have a gold plated train. And if we left it to procurement we would have got a really dirt cheap one. And perhaps if we left it to manufacturing, we would have got some huge big chunks to put together. So we’ve had to balance all of those things. That’s basically given us all the different attributes in terms of the different lengths we need, the different interior layouts we need, three doors per side for a metro, two doors per side for a commuter. And we’ve got this built-in flexibility within one train concept.” So even such basics as the length of each carriage, and how many doors it has, can be altered within the framework of the core Aventra design. The new design will be totally flexible, yet always refer back to that basic core concept. To achieve that, everything is modular, from the cab to the interior, and even the design team. There is a separate group for each major element, responsible for everything in its area including performance, cost, maintenance plans and reliability. Perhaps the most important is the integration team, which brings together all the individual ideas and makes sure that they mesh together.

Under construction Aventra has not yet been built, and probably won’t until a launch customer is found, but that isn’t to say that systems aren’t already under development. In addition to the stored energy prototype already mentioned, a leaf has been taken out of the aircraft designers’ handbook. They use something termed an Iron Bird - basically an aeroplane without wings - to test new systems. Bombardier’s Iron Bird is a train without bogies. However, it does contain control systems, wiring looms and other bits of kit and it is being assembled at Derby. Although Aventra is a design for the UK market, and draws on the experience of UK engineers for its design, much is being made of Bombardier’s global capabilities as well. Jon Shaw commented: “Having Bombardier as the biggest global rail producer, means that you can actually say that they used a certain component or system in Australia, and they used another in the US on New York City Metro. Some of the things that they’re doing in France for example at the moment are really innovative too, so Dean Taplin (our senior vehicle engineer) has been over there to share best practice. “There’s a lot of interesting things that have come out of this approach, and the benefit for being with Bombardier is that they’re actually proven in use; they might be innovative for the UK, but when we can actually go to a market, see a system in use, understand if they had any difficulties along the way, we’re getting the benefit of learning their lessons. Using technology from other Bombardier products has another advantage. When offering a train to a potential customer, they can be shown the system actually working. Perhaps not in the train they will buy, but elsewhere in the world that concept may well be in passenger service, which makes it all much clearer than just a proposal on paper. Aventra is getting close. Designs are well underway, systems are on test and suppliers have helped develop the sub-systems. Bombardier is talking to several potential customers, so a launch may not be far away.

We get to the bottom of things Our name is synonymous with independent assurance: we inspected our first locomotive in 1929 and have been assuring products, processes and entire railways ever since. In the past year alone we have been appointed to provide Notified and Designated Body services for major projects such as Crossrail and the Great Western Integrated Programme, and safety assessments for overseas clients such as Etihad Rail and the Taiwan High Speed Railway.   In an industry where safety and performance is paramount, there are few names you could trust more.

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the rail engineer • February 2014

A class act Onboard energy measurement



t’s one of those subjects that most of us probably haven’t thought about very much. We don’t need an engineering degree to work out that electric trains consume energy, but just how is that energy measured and paid for? A Virgin Trains Pendolino EMU might for instance draw energy from an overhead supply sub-station at the same time as a London Midland Class 350 and pair of Freightliner Class 86 locomotives. As several operators may share a route, it’s potentially a complex problem to work out just who owes what. In the rest of Europe the complexity is greater still. With the advent of cross-border competition within the European rail markets and trains that pass through more than one country, the energy billing might seem like an accountant’s worst nightmare. Greater demand for cost transparency means that electricity consumption must be accurately invoiced. The only logical way to measure the energy used is to have a meter on every train. It’s a bit like having a meter in a house or factory - the energy used is measured and then used to prepare the bill. One additional complication is that modern trains have regenerative braking, which generates electrical energy and returns it to the network, so this also has to be taken into account.

On-Board metering However, Swiss manufacturer LEM has now produced a complete solution for energy measurement, integrating current and voltage transducers with an energy meter, that should help to make the accountant’s life a little easier. An on-board Energy Measurement

System (EMS) provides the means by which the electricity taken from the overhead line, or returned to it during regenerative braking, can be accurately measured. Greater precision in this energy measurement can allow train operators to better understand their electricity consumption. As part of this process, on-board measurements derived from current and voltage transducers are used to formulate an Energy Measurement Function (EMF). The new standard EN 50463 ‘Railway applications: energy measurement on board trains’ defines the characteristics of the transducers and energy metering. LEM is a market leader in providing innovative and high quality solutions for measuring electrical parameters. To comply with the required performance levels set out in EN 50463 the company offers several different on-board solutions for current and voltage measurement. The standard sets out several different classes of accuracy for measurements, for example 0.2R, 0.5R, 0.75R and 1R. The figures are simply the percentage error at the full

rated primary current or voltage - so a 0.5R device has an inaccuracy of 0.5%. The R simply stands for ‘Railway’. For current and voltage measurement needs, LEM has developed three models of transducer with differing levels of accuracy. The DV family of transducers is for measuring DC voltage to an accuracy of 0.5R for a single network voltage. For DC current measurements, the DI series can be used for 1R measurements when associated with a shunt of Class 0.2, while, if 0.5R accuracy is required, the ITC series of devices should be used. These devices measure all power waveforms, including DC, AC, pulsed and complex waveforms and share a number of common features. They are of compact size and exhibit low internal power consumption. A high degree of accuracy in measurement is required in order to meet exacting billing standards, with low drift over a large temperature range being crucial. High insulation and partial discharge properties are required to guarantee safety and the transducers must provide good levels of immunity against external electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields. A range of features specific to the measurement function includes immunity from common mode voltage effects, fast response time, large bandwidth, and low noise. Modular construction and a range of interfacing options provide adaptability, including pluggable connectors, shielded cables and stud terminals.

the rail engineer • February 2014


On-Board Energy Metering EM4T II

It is in the area of overall accuracy of the EMF that EN 50463 imposes its greatest demands. The EMF must have a total accuracy of 1.5% for active energy for AC, 3% for reactive energy for AC and 2% for DC at +23°C. The accuracies of the current transducer, the voltage transducer and the energy meter are each measured separately and then combined to give an overall accuracy figure. For AC current transducers, the maximum permissible error at 1% of the rated primary current is just 5% for Class 1R. There is a significant challenge in maintaining linearity of the measurement system at the extremes of its range. The required overall accuracy has also to be valid over the whole re-verification time (which could be several years). To ensure that an operating margin will be maintained over time, it is therefore advisable to choose lower class accuracies than the nominal values allowed in the standard. In response to this challenge, LEM has designed its new ITC series of current transducers. There are two models, to measure DC or AC current up to 4000ARMS (6000APEAK) and they provide an extra margin on the Class 1R specification by achieving Class 0.5R accuracy. Initial design studies confirmed that, to reach this level of performance, a transducer based on closed-loop fluxgate technology should be used. Fluxgate magnetometers have been around since the 1930s and they rely on the non-linear behaviour of magnetic materials. The primary (load) current flows in a conductor that passes through the centre of a toroidal core. The detector has a winding around the toroidal core in which an oscillating waveform is established. When a DC current flows through the aperture of the core, it causes asymmetry of the current produced by the square wave voltage. This current is then measured using an accurate resistor. The asymmetry is used to adjust the secondary current in the compensation winding so that it exactly compensates the primary current. LEM added several refinements to this basic concept, creating a transducer that significantly exceeds the demands of EN 50463. In fact, two fluxgate detectors are used in each transducer to cancel out errors in the measurements. A sophisticated microcontroller manages the measurement process and although this is digitised, a digital-toanalogue converter generates an analogue output signal. The ITC series of transducers successfully meet the needs of the railtraction industry by reaching Class accuracy 0.5R over the temperature range -40 to +85°C, as defined in the EN 50463. These transducers can be used wherever a kA-level current measurement accuracy of 0.5 % is required, ranging from 5% to 120% of the nominal current. So now trans-European operators will know exactly how much energy they are using, and the provider’s accountants can prepare the bill with fewer headaches. Michel Ghilardi is R&D project manager and Stéphane Rollier is product and marketing communications manager for LEM International SA.



EM4T II - DV - ITC The right combination of Energy Meter & Transducers to meet EN 50463. Whatever the traction network, calculating precise billing data for both supplied and regenerated energy can be accomplished on-board, independently of the energy supplier, with the Energy Meter from LEM. To enable traction system designers to meet the requirements of EN 50463, the LEM EMF (Energy Measurement Function) matches enhanced accuracy Class 0.5R current and voltage transducers with the new EM4TII energy meter. • EM4TII energy meter rated & certified to Class 0.5R accuracy - Single-phase energy meter - Tracking & logging energy consumption - Four input channels for any AC or DC traction supply network - Calculates active & reactive energy - Compiles a load profile - Stores values - Train identification & location • DV series voltage transducers Class 0.5R accuracy 1000-4200 VRMS • ITC series current transducers Class 0.5R accuracy 2000-4000 ARMS At the heart of power electronics.


the rail engineer • February 2014


he Queen’s New Year’s Honours list recognised David Waboso, capital programmes director for London Underground (LU), with a CBE.

David trained as a civil engineer. After a spell teaching, and then working on transportation schemes in the UK and a water supply programme in Nigeria, he was appointed project manager responsible for delivering the Docklands Light Railway’s signalling system. In 1995, he won the prestigious award of UK ‘Project Manager of the Year’ and then joined the Jubilee Line Extension team where he was instrumental in getting the extension open in time for the Millennium. Following a spell at the Strategic Rail Authority, where he was an executive director, David was appointed LU’s director of engineering in 2005. Since then, he has led the largest upgrade in LU’s history with major improvements already completed, including the installation of new signalling on the Jubilee and Victoria lines and new trains on the Victoria and Metropolitan lines. One of the more recent innovations which David has introduced has been ICE - Innovative Contractor Engagement. This formed the basis of the letting of the contract for the Bank station capacity upgrade project - awarded to Dragados in July 2013. The Rail Engineer visited David in his office recently to find out more about this initiative.

Upsides and downsides Traditionally, such a project would have been carried out using an employer’s design. A consultant would be engaged to come up with the design which would then be built by a contractor.

“That has its plusses and minuses,” commented David. “The plusses are that you can, as an employer, have a design that you are satisfied with, you can have all your wishes and everything in the design and you get a chance to influence the design 100%. Then you go to competitive tender against that design. “The downsides of it are that often you don’t know, as an employer, the tricks of the trade and often contractors come in and say, ‘You know what? I wouldn’t have built it that way.’ That happens increasingly because contractors have become very knowledgeable about design and its interplay with construction - buildability, cost and schedule. They often have their own design people anyway but, using this method, you lose the ability to get the construction contractors to influence your design. “So one of the solutions to that is a design and build contract. That has its plusses and minuses as well. Obviously, what you do as an employer is set out your requirements - I want this building or this station or whatever. You give a high level specification and then you allow the contractor lots of room to innovate within that envelope. “There are variants of that which are around early contractor involvement where we can have a concept design and ask the suppliers to come and tell us what they think, but they’re always quite guarded about that because they say, ‘Why should I tell you my best ideas for somebody else to go and build?’ They often prefer to use their innovation when they are building it.”

Keeping London


on ICE

the rail engineer • February 2014


Developing ICE So London Underground, working with Infrastructure UK, the Treasuryled infrastructure group, developed the concept of Innovative Contractor Engagement (ICE). David described the thinking behind it. “The idea is to allow the contractors to be really innovative against a set of high level requirements and a list of things that we value. Value for us are things like minimising closure of facilities to reduce inconvenience to customers. We want to have escalators, rather than lifts, because we need to be able to transfer loads more people; we want to have ambience, we want to be able to cool the station - these are the things that we value. “So we wrote a list of all those things we valued and put values against them. Then we went out to tender and said this is what we want to achieve, this is when we need it done by, unless you can do it sooner, and this is what we want it to cost - or less. We put all our cards on the table and asked for some really innovative ideas. “We also said that, if you can do it and provide value against those things, we’ll not necessarily give you the work but we will buy your ideas from you. Then we will use those ideas and give them to the successful contractor. So we incentivised them to give us their best ideas as they knew that, even if they lost the contract, we would buy those ideas off them.” We also entered a confidentiality agreement with the contractors so they would bring their best ideas forward without fear of them being made known to rivals.

“It’s been quite exciting for the industry and we’ve had a lot of very good feedback. And it had the desired result. Our initial estimate was that the cost of this project would be in the region of £600 million, and we’ve saved £50 million through this process and above all, we’ve got fantastic value from the winning design. “We paid some money out. We bought some of the bidders’ ideas and we’ve also paid some of their bid costs, although being frank the feedback is we didn’t pay enough, so we are looking at that for future schemes.”

More to come

In fact, LU went further than that. They also contributed to the bid costs of the contractors involved. So, with nothing to lose, the bids included all the best ideas to deliver David’s high level requirements, early and under budget. “As it happened, on this occasion, the winning contractor had all the best ideas anyway,” David explained. “But we still bought some off the others because we want to use them in the planning process. When we go through the TWA (Transport and Works Act) process, it’s very useful to say that, if we didn’t do this, there’s another option. So we have actually used the ICE to supply those ideas.

David is obviously very pleased with the result, and will do it again. “To me, the headlines are how it’s driven value, which is exactly what we wanted it to do. The scheme looks to be a very, very attractive scheme against our baseline estimates and has saved us a lot of money. Secondly, it has allowed us to buy innovative ideas from the losing bidders that will enable us to use them in the future. I suppose thirdly it’s pioneered this for the industry and for us, so we’ll be using this and developing it; ICE is going to get better and better so we will be using this more as we go forward for certain types of schemes.” The idea of giving the bidders a basic list of requirements and values, and then asking them to come up with the best way of delivering that list, seems to have worked well. And paying bid costs, as well as buying novel ideas off the unsuccessful bidders, has taken a large part of the risk out of the bidding process. Not surprisingly, it has attracted interest from other organisations. “People are coming to talk to us about how you do it,” David stated. “It’s quite a novel technique and people are very interested, maybe because it seems to be working because it’s driven by value - and don’t forget value is different to cost. The fact that this scheme is also coming in saving us money is great, but the core thing is how you get people to deliver what you want within your overall estimate. Obviously, if they can do it for less that’s even better, but the days of just taking the lowest compliant tender are, hopefully, behind us. What we want to do is take the best value tender; value being a combination of output and cost.


the rail engineer • February 2014

“Sometimes there is a value if you are prepared to pay more. We might say the fact that we don’t have to close this station or this line while they are building it is of such value to us - because the customers will value being able to use the station - that we are prepared to pay a bit extra for that. In the old days it was just cost and we’d say, ‘Well, we’d better shut the station next time provided we get a very low bid.’ So value is a slightly different proposition to cost.”

Cooperation and consulting Unsurprisingly, one of those interested parties was Network Rail. “We share a lot of ideas with Network Rail and they share a lot of their ideas with us,” commented David. “We want to take this a stage further where we actually do far more together as two big client groups in the rail industry. We’ve both got our settlements now in terms of our spending, we are coming together now. “There is some stuff that obviously is going to be different, like our structure gauge is much smaller for example, it’s a deep and narrow tube, but track is track apparently! So we do recognise the need to do even more together - we share ideas and innovations and we have a very close working relationship. We just pick up the phone and talk to each other; we have joint meetings and there’s no formality required. We’re both railway companies and we talk to each other. I think it’s

best if it’s informal because if it gets formal it becomes cumbersome and stiff - we meet and we talk and share ideas.” A lot of other organisations are interested in talking with LU too, and not just because of ICE. “I think certainly the Olympics and the 150 celebrations have put LU right at the centre of the world’s stage, not just as an operator but as a capital delivery organisation,” explained David. “We are the oldest metro, we invented it with the City Metropolitan Railways, and we are the first metro to have undergone this massive scale of renewal. It really is massive. What we’ve undergone, and are still undergoing, is our biggest ever rebuilding programme at the busiest time in our history. The fact that we are coming through it successfully and have overcome the inevitable problems, is now turning people’s heads to say, ‘Blimey, there is something there we can learn from and copy.’ So a lot of metros are now talking to us to say can you help us with X, Y, and Z or can you advise us on A, B and C? “I think if we do go into this, it would be in the advisory kind of consulting, helping owner clients manage and specify and run big capital programmes and upgrades. That would include operations and maintenance advice but on the upgrade side because we run integrated project teams which include the operations and maintenance people. You can’t just do a couple of projects and operate a railway without having that. How you start commissioning it, where to train the drivers, how do you site the signals, all that stuff is fundamental so we have operation based people as part of those integrated teams. “The big thing we’ve got to watch is that we don’t create a distraction for the best people. Actually if you manage it right it’s a motivation for very good people because they go and are able to see what’s going on in other places and come back refreshed. I also think it helps you keep and retain the best people who then see a career path, not just in what they are doing here.” London Underground obviously has a lot still to do the current programme of renewals will last until 2030. However, with the help of ICE, and some other clever initiatives, it is well on track to keep London moving while all the work is done.



of Safety

Over the past few years there has been a significant push to improve the safety record within the rail industry. This has often meant significant change both in design and process. All areas of the industry felt that this often caused confusion due to the amount of change that happened at one time:

28th April 2014 Royal College of Physicians Regent’s Park, London

• Which policy to implement? • Have I missed anything?

SAFETY SUMMIT ADVISORY BOARD • Which part applies to my organisation?

Anson Jack

Deputy Chief Executive


Bill Free

Head of Business Development, Rail

Carillion Rail

Darren Selman

H&S Manager Assurance


David Shirres

Engineering Writer

Rail Media

Dr Ian Gaskin

Head of Management Systems, Health, Safety and Environment,


Ian Prosser

HM Chief Inspector of Railways and Director of Railway Safety


Paul Clyndes

Health & Safety Officer


Making sense of safety is a key challenge in 2014

Peter Sheppard

Senior Safety Engineer and Validator

Bombardier Transportation

for the industry, whether that be through learning

Pino de Rosa

Managing Director

Bridgeway Consulting

Over the coming year, we will see more change as the industry streamlines processes through collaboration in a bid to cut through red tape and ultimately make sense of safety.

from other industries, through product and process

Roan Willmore

Safety & Sustainability Development Director Network Rail

design or through industry collaboration.

Seamus Scallon

Safety Director UK Rail



the rail engineer • February 2014

25 years after Clapham Pride turns to despair



n the morning of 12 December 1988, with the weekend project successfully completed, I had left the hotel and was travelling south on the DC lines from Harrow & Wealdstone to Euston, now part the London Overground but branded Network South East ‘Harlequin Line’ at the time. I was a member of the commissioning team that brought into service the new Willesden Suburban signalling panel and two associated Solid State Interlockings, to replace the innovative if quirky LMS automatic signalling system introduced in 1933 between South Hampstead and Watford Junction. I was feeling proud that the Signal & Telecommunications Engineering Department (S&T) of BR had successfully introduced another modern signal box. Travelling home to Crewe I noticed posters put up at Euston advising that a ‘derailment’ had caused the closure of Waterloo station. This was a little troubling, but heading north in the pre mobile computing age, it was not until I arrived home in the afternoon and watched television news broadcasts that the full horror of the morning’s events became apparent. 35 people were dead and many more injured. The whole industry was in shock. On the eve of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the disaster, Clive Kessell, a senior S&T executive with BR at the time, presented a personal analysis to The Institution of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE). Your writer attended on behalf of The Rail Engineer. Having personal involvement with training and standards during the last 25 years, I am privileged to present the thought provoking key issues elucidated by Clive, adding my own commentary on how things have developed before and after privatisation. Although the accident was primarily related to signal engineering, readers may identify parallels with the way in which standards, training and competence have been developed within other engineering disciplines.

The accident Clive discussed how BR’s robust response to the recommendations maps through to today’s fragmented railway with rapidly advancing S&T technology. He explained: “The accident was caused by a loose wire, previously removed from a shelf- type relay during wiring alterations, coming into contact with a relay terminal. This in turn false fed a track circuit repeat relay that was key to signal replacement

circuitry needed to ensure the correct aspect sequence following the passage of a train. Thus a green signal that should have been at red led to a train travelling at speed and colliding with the rear of a preceding train stopped at the following signal to report a wrong aspect sequence.” A formal investigation into the causes of and circumstances attending the accident was led by Sir Anthony Hidden QC and published in November 1989. It made 93 wide ranging recommendations. These included S&T specific issues, of which more anon, BR’s general safety culture, crash worthiness of rolling stock, response of the emergency services, and BR’s emergency planning.

Standards Clive highlighted the issue of documentation: “As in all serious accidents, an obvious cause can be the lack or inappropriateness of instructions and documentation. Were signalling policy and procedures adequately set down? Early findings suggested that they were not, with many regional variations to contend with. Recognition that a standardised approach to installation, testing, maintenance and fault finding of signalling equipment would need to be introduced across the whole of British Rail.” The need for new documentation was crucial, and specialist teams from across BR were assembled to assess the actual requirements and produce a series of best practice instructions that would be mandatory across the entire railway. So emerged four new staff handbooks: »» Signal Works Testing Handbook (SWTH) »» Signal Maintenance Testing Handbook (SMTH)

»» Signal Installation Handbook (SIH) »» Signal Design Handbook (SDH) In BR days, the creation, updating, and sign-off for issue of standards was a straightforward process within the vertically integrated S&T Engineering department. Furthermore, the reason for the existence of mandatory standards was embedded within corporate knowledge of the Director’s team and passed down by word of mouth to subsequent generations of engineers. It was never envisaged that engineering department hierarchies would be dismantled in later years and thus no process was put in place to document the reason and purpose for every single clause in a standard. This gives rise to risk today. For example, an important signal control added to circuitry to prevent a potential collision scenario could be removed say 25 years later because the need for it was questioned and there was nobody around who knew what is was for. Indeed, commitment to standards faltered during the Railtrack era when all important signalling maintenance specifications were handed over to contractors. After a series of high profile train disasters that ultimately led to the downfall of Railtrack, Network Rail took over stewardship of the infrastructure and worked hard to regain control of the standards. When Network Rail brought maintenance back in house, the chief executive declared that it was one company and that there should be one way of doing things. The maintenance specifications had to be purchased back from one of the contractors who had diligently kept them up to date. What of SWTH, SMTH, SIH and SDH today? The good news is that the handbooks are still in place as mandatory standards and, with the exception of SIH, have been updated within the last year. The SIH hasn’t been updated for nearly two years which is a little worrying given the innovative new signalling kit being provided by various suppliers for installation on the network. Standards promulgate ‘best practice’ which, interestingly, is a requirement stated in Network Rail’s Network Licence.

the rail engineer • February 2014



But are there too many standards? Network Rail’s current position was outlined by Gareth Llewllyn, executive director for safety and sustainable development, in the June 2013 issue of The Rail Engineer. He said that the large number of standards indicates that the workforce is severely constrained by the content therein. Progress must never be compromised. Network Rail’s vision is to have a small number of mandatory business-critical rules supported by guidelines on how to do the job. This, according to Gareth, will then enable the workforce to be effective and innovative and to embrace new technology with enthusiasm, knowing that they are working within a framework of flexible risk controls.

Also launched at this time was a suite of ‘distance learning’ programmes. Some highquality full-colour training modules were released for study at home or in the depot. This obviated the need for staff to stay away from home on a similar classroom based residential course. Sadly these excellent initiatives had a short life span with the break-up of the industry just a few years away. BR’s S&T training units were sold off and have subsequently either been closed or had a chequered career. To some extent, training has turned full circle with Network Rail building its own brand-new signal engineering training centres.


Clive explained that in-house measures by BR were however not seen as sufficient to restore the credibility of the S&T profession.“A form of independent assessment of competence was needed and the chosen solution has been the IRSE Licensing Scheme. Since the IRSE is both the body representing the interests of the profession and independent of any railway organisation or equipment supplier, it was a logical decision. It took a while for the scheme to be designed and developed, and it was not until 1994 that the scheme was formally launched by Sir Anthony Hidden.” There are currently 62 categories of licence for S&T covering specific roles within the broad categories of installation, maintenance, testing,

In order to help rebuild BR staff morale post Clapham, a new look S&T department was launched under the brand ‘Safety, Quality & Teamwork’ (SQT). A high level of staff engagement was sought in order to provide a successful launch of the new standard handbooks. Allied to this was the enhancement of training provision. The Railway Engineering School at Derby became the academy for testing training and a range of design and maintain courses covering complex equipment. The regional schools had no less an onerous role in providing training on the important basic elements of S&T - installation, points, track circuits, interlocking principles, wiring techniques, cable jointing, local telephone exchanges etc.

Competence - IRSE licensing scheme

“...a standardised approach to installation, testing, maintenance and fault finding of signalling equipment would need to be introduced across the whole of British Rail.”


the rail engineer • February 2014


“...things have moved on a long way since that fateful day in 1988. Clapham and other subsequent accidents have caused the S&T profession to move from a position where safety was questionable to one where safety processes are rigorous and reliable.“

design, project engineering and engineering management. Licences are issued on a personal basis. Obtaining a licence involves a workplace assessment and competence assessment, using the applicants Log Book - a record of training, qualifications, and work experience as evidence. Assessing Agents, who are subject to regular audit by the IRSE, oversee and manage the assessment process. A licence is normally valid for five years. Clive continues: “Pragmatism is always a means of moving forward and there have been many compromises allowed in order that important work programmes are not stopped. When Network Rail decided to take maintenance back in house following the Hatfield accident, S&T staff were inherited complete with their licences. “The need to continue with licensing inside Network Rail has been questioned and an alternative ‘Assessment in the Line’ system has been devised. If applied properly, this could be more rigorous than an IRSE licence since it requires a yearly assessment to take place. However this seemed not to happen in practice and the ORR issued a non-conformity on the company. As a result, Network Rail has reengaged with the scheme and is concentrating on getting fault finder and maintainer staff re-equipped with licences.

“To date, some 397 licences have been issued to such staff out of a total of 3,000. There is a declared intention to re-licence installation technicians and although the paper work was approved some 18 months ago, no licences have yet been issued. Network Rail does use the scheme for design, project engineering and engineering management staff. “An impending challenge is how to prove competence for staff responsible for train borne ERTMS signalling equipment. This could mean the licensing scheme having to stray into the traction and rolling stock arena since it is certain that split maintenance regimes for trains within a depot will not be tolerated by the train companies. “A working party has been set up to look at the problem, initially discussing three areas: how to safely commission equipment into service, how to sign systems in and out of service and how to manage software updates. Lessons may be gleaned from London Underground since it has had train-borne signalling systems for many years and uses the standard licence portfolio to certify such staff. However, LU is still a vertically integrated entity, which makes for much simpler managerial control. “Whatever the shortcomings, the Licensing scheme must be judged a big success. Since

the rail engineer • February 2014

its inception in 1994, some 12,000 licences have been issued. The number of licences as at September 2013 is 5,554.”

Subsequent Accidents Clive asserts “Clapham was never going to be the ‘accident to end all accidents’ and other serious ones have occurred subsequently. Some have demonstrated fundamental weaknesses both in rail organisation and engineering management.” Crucial issues emerge from signalling and track related accidents in which sixty seven passengers have lost their lives since Clapham. Fifty five of these deaths were caused by Signals Passed at Danger (SPAD), a risk that has been substantially reduced by the introduction of the Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS). The Potters Bar (2002), Hatfield (2000) and Grayrigg (2007) accidents contained elements of commercial pressures, loss of national control of maintenance standards, staff competence and training. Pertinent to this discussion is the serious accident that occurred on the Washington Metro in 2009. This was a chilling repeat of Clapham. A ‘wrong-side’ track circuit failure meant a stationary train vanished from the system allowing a following train to crash into the back of it. Whilst the poor workmanship at Clapham has been addressed, the possibility of a ‘wrongside’ failure of the train detection equipment itself must not be overlooked. The safety integrity of the signal interlocking is totally dependent upon train detection units correctly reporting the position of trains. Track circuits and axle counters are, of course, designed to be extremely safe but the Washington disaster is a reminder that such faults, however rare, can occasionally occur. The need for a signalling/ train sequence monitoring system is discussed below.

Technology At the time of Clapham, the vast majority of interlockings were of the relay type. Today there are many computer-based interlockings in service. But whatever the variant of relay or computer system, they do the same job of moving points and changing signal aspects safely with due regard to the state of train detection units, in accordance with the signal control tables which are a logical expression of the requirements for route setting. There is scope for error in writing control tables, circuit design in the case of relay systems, or data preparation in the case of computer interlockings. Finally, there could be design errors or a breakdown of the actual hardware, as at Washington.

System Safe Sequence Monitoring Clive gave his audience a worrying last thought. “A fundamental cause of the Clapham accident was that a train disappeared from the system and the system was incapable of recognising that. Wind the clock forward and ask the same question; if a train operating in a computer controlled signalling environment - maybe ERTMS but even perhaps SSI and its more modern derivatives - disappeared off the signaller’s display screen, would the system recognise the situation and raise an urgent alarm? “It begs the question as to the management of all wrong side failures. These still occur but only come to light when somebody notices that something odd has occurred, in other words, a human detection. Should more effort be put into the design so that train movements are predicted in advance and if the sequence is not followed in practice, then an alarm be raised? I believe this happens in air traffic control so why not in rail?” In 1988, computer technology in train control and supervision was in its infancy. Today the signalling system outputs significant amounts of data for the monitoring of train running by train operators and Network Rail. Signallers’ computer display systems include a ‘SPAD’ alarm and ‘out of sequence’ alarm for train detection which would raise the alarm if a train disappeared from the system. This could be developed further to include signal aspect monitoring in order to provide an overall and continuous real time check. This data could be combined to feed an algorithm devised to compare predicted versus actual train movements. Raising an alarm on a signallers display screen in the new world of the Rail Operating Centres (ROC) will require some thought. Signallers will be supervising large areas and primarily focussed on dealing with operating issues rather than watching the progress of every train. It could be challenging to suddenly drop what he or she is doing and then assimilate all train movements in the area for which an alarm is sounding in order to take instant action to avoid something bad happening!

Accident investigation or prevention? It’s comforting to know that inspectors at the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) are as astute as the ex-military men who used to investigate accidents under the auspices of ‘Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate’, leaving no stone unturned. Ironically, if the RAIB has become involved, it may be too late. There may be injuries or a fatality resulting from the accident under investigation. The RAIB has no monitoring function over Network Rail’s day-today engineering and operations.


So, who does audit Network Rail’s commitment to standards and competence? The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has the role of National Safety Authority. Much of ORR’s safety work revolves around Health & Safety Legislation and The Railway and Other Guided Transport Systems (Safety Regulations) 2006 (ROGS). ORR staff do indeed carry out inspections checking that ROGS systems are in place, and that includes safety critical work including staff competence. However, it would appear that more proactive and vigorous checks ‘RAIB style’ are needed to try and prevent accidents occurring in the first place.

No room for complacency Clive concluded: “The recent RAIB annual report for 2012 was remarkable in that signalling barely featured, only two SPAD incidents being investigated in the period 2008-12. This is in itself a tribute to the good work that has been done since Clapham to get S&T back into a good shape. “So, things have moved on a long way since that fateful day in 1988. Clapham and other subsequent accidents have caused the S&T profession to move from a position where safety was questionable to one where safety processes are rigorous and reliable. No-one should however conclude that nothing more needs to be done. The recruiting, training and competence proving of next generation staff will be a big challenge. “The cost of signalling is still perceived as too high and means of obtaining equipment based on commercial designs is going to have to happen. The supply industry needs to be more integrated so that equipment purchased is both interoperable and interchangeable regardless of manufacturing organisation. “Signal engineers need to be re-orientated from the long established tradition of having to invent something different every time, whether for new projects or enforcing changes to existing products, so as to utilise standard industry designs. This might mean changing signalling / operating rules. “Software security risks need to be better understood and safeguards built into both equipment design and transmission media. The division of responsibility for trackside and train-borne equipment needs resolving with some urgency, which will mean a much closer relationship between the Institutions that represent both interests. “Clapham was never going to be the last accident involving signalling systems and indeed others have happened since. It is to be hoped that nothing can ever happen again on this scale but the real challenge will be to identify new emerging risks and to manage these before anything awful occurs.”



the rail engineer • February 2014

his, to the surprise of many, was issued on New Year’s Eve: “London Underground (LU) and Bombardier Transportation today announced that the signalling contract for the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines (Sub Surface lines) will be re-let by LU following discussions between the two companies…” We live in an era of positive press releases. Perhaps we always have done. When a project is announced there’s the first release. Client X has awarded a contract to Company Y for a vast and ‘challenging’ project. There’s a quote from the client outlining how challenging the project is likely to be and expressing unbridled confidence. There’s also the inevitable quote from the contractor expressing their delight (a very common word in this context) at being awarded the contract. And then it goes quiet for a while. Before the final release announcing successful completion there may be interim statements talking about successful trials and work being ‘well on the way’. Those outside of the contractual ring hear or read nothing more. Those on the edges may be aware of the daily toil of the real world, but everyone is so discreet these days.

But there had been signs, and these were not in the form of press releases. They were hidden away in the agendas and minutes of the Transport for London Board meetings, the deliberations of which are open to the public – generally. In September 2013, Minute 65/09/13 had the paragraph: “To address the significant challenges for the signalling system proposed for the Sub-Surface Railway (SSR) Upgrade, senior managers from London Underground and the signalling contractor were meeting to review the current status and expedite the technical solution and delivery strategy, to achieve the required capacity uplift benefits by the overall completion date of 2018. Members would be updated on the progress of the SSR Upgrade signalling discussions.”

October was quiet, but in November 2013 the TfL Investment Programme Report – Second Quarter 2013/14 stated: “Noted that the demonstration of the ATC system at the Old Dalby test track was not achieved by the August 2013 “key date”. Following LU review and challenge, it has been acknowledged that this will not be achieved until at least June 2015. LU believes that if the current plan is continued, there will be a similar delay in contract completion taking it beyond the DfT target date of 2018. This would also lead to significant LU exposure in excess of SUP funding. A range of options are being considered to maintain delivery of the upgrade by 2018.” In November 2013, a meeting of the TfL Board, open to the public, was briefed by Mike Brown, Managing Director, London Underground and London Rail. It was an ‘oral briefing’ and it seems that the public, if they were there at all, did not pick up on any contractual nuances. Then, right in the middle of the festive season, came notice of an Extraordinary Meeting of TfL’s Finance and Policy

Early indications The brief announcement in the TfL (Transport for London) press release that a contract – a major contract – had hit the buffers and was being re-let (a rare, but very positive verb) caught many on the hop.



the rail engineer • February 2014



Committee. The meeting, scheduled for 19 December 2013 at 8am(!), was open to the public if they’d have been moved enough to get up at that time in the morning. However, all they would have heard would have been apologies for absence and declarations of interest before they were booted out, because item 4 ‘Sub Surface Railway Upgrade Programme’ contained a paper with information that was exempt from publication. That was the only item for discussion. An Extraordinary Meeting, an 8am start, just before Christmas and a public lock-out – this did not augur well….. After six working days, frantic activity and presumably several people having a rotten Christmas there came the positive announcement in that press release.

Now, turn the clock back to June 2011. Transport for London formally announced Bombardier Transportation as the winner of the £354m contract to upgrade signalling on London Underground’s Sub-Surface Lines – a deal which Bombardier said was the largest it had ever won for a signalling project. Their press release at the time used quotes such as, “We are very pleased to be awarded this new contract by London Underground and look forward to working together on this exciting project…….” TfL’s quote was: “This is a major step forward in our plan to upgrade the Tube…”. All positive stuff, and indeed it all tended to make sense as the manufacturer of the new S stock for the SSR, which would be fitted with signalling equipment, was none other than …..Bombardier. The signalling system that had been selected was the Bombardier Cityflo 650. Cityflo 650 is the top end of the established Cityflo range of systems. The base level Cityflo 150 integrates signalling and auxiliary systems and is designed for light rail/tramway applications. The range increases in complexity through the 250, 350, 450 and 550 variants. The TfL selected solution, the 650, is “a system for driverless (DTO) or unattended (UTO) train operations designed for moving block advanced metro operations……” It wasn’t brand new, untested, a stab in the dark. It had been installed in several cities across the globe and performs reliably and safely to this day. Some of the installations are on relatively short airport links such as those at Heathrow, Gatwick, Seattle, Dallas and other US locations. Far more significant are the installations on heavily used metro railways; the Neihu-Wenshan line in Taiwan, the Shenzen Metro Line 3 in China and lines 1 and 6 of the Madrid metro. The Neihu-Wenshan line is a combination of the Wenshan line built in 1988 and the Neihu line which opened in 2009. The layout is relatively simple, but usage is very high.

the positive


the rail engineer • February 2014

Shenzhen Metro Line 3 opened in December 2010. It, too, is heavily used over its 25 mile route. In slight contrast, the Madrid metro has lines which date back to the early part of the last century. Line 1 started life in 1919 but was extended progressively up until 2007. Line 6, a circular route was completed in 1995 having been started in 1979. These railways have a few issues in common. They are heavily used, they are relatively modern – apart from parts of Line 1 in Madrid - and few, if any, have any regularly used critical junctions.

Sub-surface complications Closer to home, on the other hand, there are the railways which comprise the London SSR – the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. As well as being a much larger and older system, there are mixed operations such as a shared network with Chiltern Railways and London Overground. It is a complex layout interfacing with the Jubilee and Piccadilly lines and with several major critical junctions – such as the like of Baker Street, Aldgate and Edgware Road. The infrastructure is Victorian. The existing signalling, whilst complex, is understandable. There are track circuits, axle counters, lineside signals and train-stops. However,

the system is also running at capacity and could be improved significantly with innovations such as moving block signalling. The SSR is a railway that lies within a system that has been bruised over the years with reliability problems involving the introduction of new signalling. Problems with the Jubilee line are all within recent memory and further back there was the cancellation of the contracts, again on the SSR, let by Metronet to Westinghouse. What now? The very popular S stock continues to be built with spaces for signalling equipment that are as yet unfilled. There’s a new control building - as yet unfilled. The hundred or so staff involved may be moved to other projects and there will be another period of inactivity at the ever-mysterious Old Dalby test site. A somewhat daunting notice has appeared in the OJEU (The Official Journal of the European Union) outlining the requirements for the SSR Automatic Train Control System. “Only proven systems requiring little or no product development for deployment on the SSR will be considered. Companies with ATC systems requiring high levels of product development” need not apply. Just in case tenderers were unaware, under ‘Additional information’ is the statement that “Transport for London (TfL) is a complex organisation…..”. So, can the engineering and practices of the Far Eastern railways, the Madrid metro or anywhere else for that matter be migrated into the SSR? Overlay the issues of industrial relations, safety philosophies, political involvement, along with public expectations and media interest and there will be answers that may not be straightforward. And with such huge projects, what are the chances of contractually embedded high level aspirations matching the deeply engrained ground level experience of professional engineers and operators? Perhaps this is a self-answering question. But tenderers will not be starting from scratch this time. The circle of senior signalling engineers and operators is small. Everyone will be not only older, of course, but also much, much wiser. Challenges remain. ‘Challenges’ is a favourite of positive press releases.

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the rail engineer • February 2014




he Christmas and New Year holiday period is always a particularly busy one for Network Rail. The opportunity to close parts of the network for a few days, without unduly inconveniencing passengers, allows us to carry out work that would be difficult, or even impossible, at any other time of year. Planning for these blockades can take years, with everything being prepared in advance down to the smallest detail. Lengthy projects are naturally the most complex and, with many happening over the same holiday period, limited resources such as plant and equipment, engineering trains and key staff have to be shared between each of them. This year there was an added complication. During the two weeks, the railway dealt with extreme weather on top of the planned unprecedented investment programme. Despite the many challenges, we were able to successfully deliver a ÂŁ110 million investment programme - the largest ever undertaken over a two-week period. Some 6,000 people worked in often challenging conditions to deliver over 300 projects aimed at improving and expanding the network for the benefit of its millions of daily users. Christmas works at Manchester Victoria.

the rail engineer • February 2014

As ever, safety was the industry’s top priority in the face of widespread and often unpredictable damage to the infrastructure. On a number of occasions, Network Rail and train operators took the decision to introduce blanket speed restrictions to reduce the risk caused by fallen trees and, in some instances, delayed the start-up of services so routes could be checked by empty trains in daylight for obstructions and debris. These precautions, and those used during the investment programme, meant the railway experienced no serious injury to passengers, employees or contractors.

proportion of which came from neighbouring properties, and there were 33 overhead line incidents where fallen debris and trees brought down power-lines; »» Rain and flooding - around 170 flooded sites, some of which resulted in the entire track-bed being washed away; »» Tidal damage, loss of coastal railways and landslides - 29 landslips blocked several major routes (such as the Brighton main line) and some will take many weeks to repair. In places, our coastal routes where the railway acts as a sea defence, particularly those on the Cambrian and Cumbrian coasts, have been washed away.

Severe weather

In total, 3,000 additional shifts were needed to repair the damage caused by the storms between 20 December and 5 January.

Network Rail’s planned programme of investment work for the Christmas and New Year period was put at serious risk as a series of deep low pressure weather systems marched across the Atlantic in quick succession, bringing very high winds and extreme rainfall. The Met Office has described December as one of the windiest and wettest since 1969 with wind gusts in Wales recorded at 109mph and rainfall for the UK for December at 154% above average. This masks some extreme local variations with southern England seeing well over twice the normal amount of rainfall and in some locations, even more. The impact of the severe weather was felt in three ways: »» Wind, trees, obstructions and overhead line issues almost 400 trees fell onto our infrastructure, a significant


targeted communications about the particularly large amount of work on the Brighton main line affecting Gatwick over the Christmas period also took place. Where the weather forecasting predicted particularly tumultuous weather, early decisions were made to introduce blanket speed restrictions or delay the start-up of services enabling amended timetables to be uploaded onto railways systems and thus onto outward facing information systems such as the National Rail Enquiry Service. Much proactive media and social media work was undertaken to advise passengers of the impact these decisions would have on services well in advance, enabling people to make informed decisions. We also worked with train operators to ensure that key stakeholders, especially within the DfT who were liaising with the Cabinet Office’s COBRA crisis process, were kept well informed about our work, the conditions being experienced, the impact felt

protect PPM (Public Performance Measure). Our view, as expressed to stakeholders, is that PPM is not the right measure to judge the performance of the industry at times of extreme weather. The Secretary of State for Transport has thanked us for our efforts and commitment, and both the Transport Select Committee and ORR (Office of Rail Regulation) have recognised that we made the right calls. Thousands of our engineers worked in extreme conditions to repair the network to keep trains and passengers and freight moving. Their dedication and professionalism has been acknowledged in communications across the business. Work continues to repair damage, which in some areas could take many weeks to complete. And with the extreme weather continuing, more damage is being experienced and winter has yet to bring its first serious snow and ice conditions.

by our passengers and employees and the actions we were taking. With Network Rail and train operator controls all co-located, joined up decision making was assured, enabling prompt implementation of EWATs (Emergency Weather Action Teams), contingency timetables and communication. Appropriate decisions were made by our joint control rooms to prioritise running services, getting passengers to their destinations, especially on 23 and 24 December, rather than attempt to run to a timetable and

Planned improvement programme

Keeping everyone informed Network Rail took a proactive decision to lead how the industry prepared for both the planned improvement work and response to the storms. Communication was key, with the lessons learnt from previous events and employed so well before and during the St Judes storm implemented again before and during this two-week period. An extensive advertising campaign in national and regional press, online and at stations advising passengers to check their plans before travelling because of our extensive planned investment programme ran from early December. Much more proactive, earlier, and

Network Rail had planned its largest ever two-week investment period over the festive season due to start from close of service on Christmas Eve with almost all planned to have been completed by the early hours of 2 January. Despite the weather, the bulk of this work was delivered as planned. This improvement work has benefitted passengers and businesses alike with new and longer platforms, better stations and more capacity for


the rail engineer • February 2014

extra passenger and freight services delivered. The projects carried out over the period are just a small part of our plan for a bigger, better railway helping the network to be better able to cater for the continuing growth in demand for rail travel. In total, the Christmas and New Year work programme involved 4,700 worksites in 1,724 possessions (a 42% increase on last year) with over 6,000 people working in excess of 600,000 man hours. In all, 319 projects were completed (270% increase from the Christmas period at the start of the current control period) and 99% of the possessions were handed back on time. Some of the highlights of the £110 million work programme included: »» A new platform, track and signalling equipment at Gatwick Airport station. Around 1300 metres of track was laid, a 50 metre long footbridge renewed and a total of 250 metres of new platform, complete with a new lift, escalators and highlevel walkway to the station, completed. »» Commissioning of new signalling equipment at Peterborough, part of a wider project to relieve a major bottleneck on the East Coast main line which includes a new track layout, longer platforms, station bridges, extensions and new lifts.

»» Electrification work at Manchester Victoria, which saw 400 metres of track lowered and 1300 tonnes of spoil removed to create additional headroom for overhead power lines so electric trains can run from Manchester to Liverpool starting in December. »» Installation of a new rail bridge in Ipswich, part of a 1.1km stretch of new railway connecting the East Suffolk line and Great Eastern main line to increase rail capacity to the port of Felixstowe (due for completion March 2014). »» A major upgrade of Gravesend station. This included lengthened platforms allowing longer 12-car trains to call at the station for the first time, providing more seats and extra space for passengers. There will also be improved facilities including a new footbridge and lifts to all platforms (due for completion May 2014). Peterborough.

Delivering the programme required significant flexibility by employees, many of whom worked through their family holidays, and substantial replanning as both the weather and network damage required projects to be continuously replanned.

Careful planning and flexible response In the end, the most challenging Christmas and New Year period in living memory was successfully managed by a combination of careful preplanning and highly responsive decision-making. The rail industry made deliberate decisions to protect passenger safety by introducing blanket speed restrictions and, in exceptional circumstances, delaying the start-up of services following particularly stormy conditions. These precautions proved to be effective as

hundreds of trees were found by our route proving trains that had to be cleared before starting passenger services. The industry also chose to prioritise getting people to their destinations rather than protect PPM, especially on 23 and 24 December. Millions of people were safely and successfully delivered to their destinations during abysmal conditions and the current method of measuring the industry’s success cannot, and does not, recognise this. The largest, most intense period of investment was also planned and, in the vast majority of cases, successfully delivered, despite the conditions, through close working and dynamic planning and cooperation. We are still assessing the cost of the damage caused to our network over the last few weeks of storms. Flooding events continue to impact services as any rainfall causes more problems due to the already-oversaturated ground conditions. The cost of repairs will run into tens of millions of pounds. However, managing the worst December weather since 1969 while, at the same time, delivering the largest programme of Christmas work in years, must be judged a success. We can only express our thanks to all our staff, and those of our contractors, whose dedication and enthusiasm made it all possible. Kevin Groves is head of media for Network Rail.

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the rail engineer • February 2014

Christmas at Stoat’s Nest



here are many intriguing local names that occur on the railway map, adding local character and interest to our national railway network. Stoat’s Nest is such a location.

Passengers who use the Brighton main line between London Victoria, Gatwick Airport and the south coast might not know that, when they pass through Purley toward Redhill, they will travel through Stoat’s Nest. However, a number of passengers who didn’t know about Stoat’s Nest before Christmas will almost certainly be aware of its location now. Why? Because they were advised by Network Rail of significant changes to train services over the recent Christmas and New Year period. Over the Christmas period, three significant infrastructure upgrades were carried out by Network Rail. These included a new platform and associated track and signalling work at Gatwick Airport, new signalling between London Victoria station and Battersea and a major replacement of switches and crossings between Redhill and Purley at Stoat’s Nest junction. The renewal work at Stoat’s Nest was necessary because the existing layout was reaching the end of its useful life and if the renewal work had not taken place, speed restrictions would have been required. This would have impacted on Network Rail’s ability to provide an efficient service, so it was crucial that this work took place.

Infrastructure upgrades The programme of work for Stoat’s Nest had been developed and meticulously planned by Network Rail over the last four years working closely with their suppliers and the Train

Operating Companies who would be affected: Southern, First Capital Connect and First Great Western on both the main lines and associated branch lines. Tim Robinson, Network Rail’s Route Managing Director for the Sussex route, said: “These are three significant infrastructure upgrades which have been carefully planned to take place at the same time to keep disruption to a minimum. The result will be a more reliable network and more flexibility for trains calling at Gatwick, which continues to attract more passengers travelling there by train.” The work at Stoat’s Nest included the renewal of 16 sets of switches and crossings located within a one-mile stretch of a four track section of railway between Purley and Redhill. Clearly, this is a crucial part of the infrastructure for the Network Rail signallers who operate this part of the railway network and they would want to know that all is in good working order for the return of normal services in the New Year.

Inclement weather The principal contractor for the work was Balfour Beatty Rail with Archie Tait the contract director responsible for delivering this work on time and in good working order. In discussion with The Rail Engineer, Archie said that there were four identified routes for the engineering trains to access the site. He then explained that the job was nearly cancelled because the heavens opened hours before the start of the possession, two of the routes were flooded and

there was a land slip on a third route. A decision had to be made whether they should continue, risking a possible overrun of up to four days. Archie also added that as part of the planning process, Network Rail and Balfour Beatty had set up a command and control centre, which he described as a ‘War Room’, for monitoring progress. This would interface also with the Sussex Route control centre, thus enabling all options to be considered and amendments to the plan introduced and implemented with everyone’s agreement. Fortunately, all the S&C components were delivered to site before Christmas and work had been completed to construct the components into modular S&C units. They used adjacent sidings to carry out this work and Balfour Beatty Rail employed its Kirow crane to place the units, the largest lift being a set of G switches.

Sound engineering principles Given the very difficult circumstances resulting from the inclement weather and the pressure to not overrun the possession, there must have been huge temptation to cut a few corners to claw back time. However, Archie and his team were adamant that they were not going to compromise on quality. As a consequence, great care was taken to dig out the old formation and creating correct formation cross levels before placing a well consolidated ballast base ready to receive the S&C components. By adopting this approach, Archie said that, by 27 December, there was a growing confidence that it would be possible to hand back on time by sticking to the plan and agreed contingency and mitigations.

the rail engineer • February 2014


A total of 112 lifts were carried out during the possession. More than one thousand workers were inducted throughout the possession and they worked twenty-six thousand hours. Archie expressed his thanks for the invaluable leadership received from his senior contracts manager, Amar Patel, as well as Mark Veness, project manager. Atkins Rail provided the signalling support for the project and a whole host of suppliers added invaluable support to the project. On the Monday 13 January, all the associated stressing and welding was completed and the four lines returned to the planned temporary speed restriction.

A team effort We must not forget Network Rail’s National Delivery Service (NDS) which, with the cooperation of the route controllers, managed to redirect the engineering trains, re-roster their drivers and ensure that all the resources and materials were delivered to site. This must have been a herculean task given the time of year, the extensive flooding and the very tight timescales involved. Steve Featherstone, track programme director for Network Rail, has suggested that this work must be an early candidate for ‘Project of the Year’. It will certainly be hard to beat. It is difficult to imagine a worse set of circumstances for a delivery team to face. Four years in the planning and, if postponed, it would probably take another four years to gain access to do the work again. So the team had to balance the risk of overrunning by four days, and the negative effect that would have on passengers and in the media, against the nightmare of having to

maintain the old and life-expired infrastructure for another four years. Clearly, the expertise available and the confidence of the Balfour Beatty Rail team to deliver, knowing that they had the full support of the command and control centre, was significant. The attention to sound and proven engineering principles, ensuring that the ballast formation was constructed properly without compromising quality, required a significant

(Lead) Kirow crane installing modular S&C. (Below) Excavation and reballasting taking place. (Bottom) Only a few S&C units are left to lay-in out of the total of 112.

amount of professional expertise. The result is a credit to those involved and will be appreciated by those who inherit and maintain this element of the infrastructure in future years.


the rail engineer • February 2014


Not a canal, but the railway approaching Ryde tunnel.

Island floods


ust off the south coast of England is one of the more unusual parts of the UK rail network. The Island Line is an electrified route running down the east side of the Isle of Wight. It runs up a pier, to the terminus at Ryde Pier Head station where it connects with ferries to the mainland. The other terminus, 8.1/2 [use half fraction] miles away, is at Shanklin. As well as the pier, there are other novelties. The line is electrified with a third rail at 630V DC. The track in the tunnel under Ryde was raised in 1966 to help prevent flooding, and as a result the headroom is now so low that standard trains cannot run through it. The solution was to use redundant London Underground tube stock. The current Class 483 trains were originally 1938 tube stock making them, at 75 years old, the oldest trains currently in network passenger service anywhere in the UK.

Assessing the damage As part of its franchise agreement, South West Trains runs the Island Line and also maintains it. The workforce includes a small infrastructure team and also, interestingly, the signallers who operate the Island Line signal box located at Ryde St Johns Road. However, when major track remedial work is needed, assistance has to be brought in. So when flooding in the Ryde area over Christmas caused damage to the line, a meeting was arranged between South West Trains’ head of fleet production and contractor Keltbray Rail and a line inspection was carried out on the 27 December to assess the damage. This revealed that there were 20 sites over a three mile section where the track ballast (shingle) had either been completely washed away or moved by the flooding. Some of the sites between Ryde Esplanade and Ryde St Johns Road were not too severe and it was a case of just moving the shingle and placing additional ballast. However, from Ryde St Johns Road to Smallbrook and beyond there was extensive damage. This included washouts where the track ballast was completely washed away, sleepers were also missing. At Smallbrook station there was a 20-metre section where there was simply no ballast at all - it had all been scoured down to a depth of about one metre. Planning started on Monday 30 December. Due to the location, this included getting in plant, staff and supplies - made doubly difficult as it was still the Christmas and New Year holidays. However, arrangements were put in place and some 600 tonnes of ballast was delivered by ferry over the weekend, allowing engineers to begin repair work on Monday.

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the rail engineer • February 2014

Working from both ends Work started on Monday 6 January with two separate gangs - one working from Ryde Esplanade towards Smallbrook, and the other working from Sandown towards Smallbrook. Ryde tunnel itself had been flooded so, while Keltbray cleared debris and undertook brickwork

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repairs to the Up line portal, specialist engineers from S&T Cover undertook a complete renewal of the signalling lineside cables through the tunnel, including the installation of two new location cases. As well as the cables, twenty track circuit impedance bonds were upgraded and nine track circuits were set up and tested. All of the replacement equipment had to be brought onto the island as well as the staff to complete the signalling work. Once on the island, full integration and liaison was undertaken with Keltbray and Island Line Trains to complete the work within the demanding timescales, despite the continuing bad weather. Meanwhile, new ballast was hauled to the washout sites where shingle was cleared and topped up with fresh ballast. This was compacted, a few sleepers were replaced, and then the track tamped using an RRV attachment. The track at Smallbrook station required substantial work and repairs were also needed to the platform. 90 Grundomat piles were inserted to stabilise the ground. These are a form of mini-pile in which steel tubular piles are welded together, installed, and then infilled with concrete and reinforcement bar. This work was undertaken to improve the stability of the bank that borders the track at this location. New flood relief drains were installed, and ballast boards fitted

to help keep them clear. New fencing was erected on both sides of the track which was realigned after the ballast had been laid and compacted. The opportunity was taken, as this work was being carried out, to strengthen the infrastructure so that it could more easily withstand any future bad weather. All the while, the teams were aiming to complete by 20 January. This date had been set bearing in mind the number of affected sites and the logistical difficulties of having to bring everything onto the island. As it happened, everything went well. Both Keltbray and S&T Cover finished their work early, and the line reopened early on 18 January for testing with the normal train service resuming on Sunday 19 January.

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the rail engineer • February 2014

Stuart Marsh

t seems incredible - what a turnaround in the weather! Despite most of us enjoying a reasonable autumn, during December and January we experienced one storm after another rolling in from the Atlantic. It is wintertime after all, but the result of the gales and downpours coupled with exceptionally high tides made headline news. Storm damage to our coasts was severe from Cornwall to Scotland, and washouts and storm damage affected rail services in many areas.


the rail engineer • February 2014 Defences breached One line to suffer badly was the Cumbrian Coast route between Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness. December saw flooding of the line on several occasions around Aspatria and Maryport, but the biggie came in the New Year.


Approximately 1,400 metres to the north at Flimby, where there is no sea wall, the ballast and track bed were washed away over a distance of 200 metres. Here, too, the rails and sleepers of the Down line were left in mid-air and the Up line was blocked with debris. Things weren’t much better further down the Cumbrian coast. At Parton, south of Workington, a large hole formed in the substantial stone block sea wall, lineside equipment was uprooted and 600 metres of ballast was washed away, exposing the sleeper ends. An embankment at Braystones near Sellafield was eroded at its base over a distance of 400 metres and four slips were discovered, whilst at Sellafield itself a section of the high concrete sea wall that supports the railway was dislodged.


The damage at Llanaber is clear to see. The night of 3 January was one of strong westerly gales, very low atmospheric pressure and exceptional tides, with the result that sea defences were overwhelmed. Between Workington and Maryport, the line runs very close to the sea shore, protected primarily by so-called rock armour - a 25 metre wide wave barrier formed from large limestone boulders. At two locations the rock armour was disrupted to such an extent that the railway was exposed to the full force of the wave action. At the former Siddick Junction, just north of Workington, a 70 metre stretch of the secondary defence, a substantial 3.5 metre concrete sea wall, was completely destroyed. Not surprisingly, the track ballast and formation were then scoured out, leaving the Down line suspended in mid-air and the Up line partially undermined.

Despite all the damage and disruption, the safety of trains was never compromised. A 40mph speed restriction had been placed on the route when the high tide was forecast and the line was completely closed at 14:00 when Northern Rail services were replaced by buses. The full force of the storm which, coinciding with the high tide, occurred later that evening. It was a wise move to close the line early, as even where the sea defences remained intact the huge waves deposited sand, stones and other detritus over the railway.

Surge As Martin Frobisher, Network Rail area director North West put it, “We’ve not seen the sort of sea surge that we’ve had here in many, many years. The 9.5 metre tide, the on-shore wind and the low pressure system all coming together at the same time has smashed a huge concrete sea wall and washed away the track. It’s been a massive job to get it back.” A repair project was put in place almost immediately, with Network Rail civils contractor Murphy rising to the challenge. At Siddick and Flimby a team of 50 workers was deployed, working round the clock on 12 hour


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the rail engineer • February 2014

shifts. The scheme in the short term has involved replacing the rock armour using five-tonne boulders hauled by road from Shap Quarry. From the delivery point near Workington the boulders were transported to the work sites by six-wheel articulated dump trucks along the beach, before being carefully placed in position using tracked excavators. Murphy also undertook work to restore the sea defences at Braystones and Sellafield by adding rock armour. In all, more than 4,000 tonnes of stone was required.

Vital Martin Frobisher said, “Thousands of people use this line every day. It provides an essential local service and, for us, the priority was to get it open as fast as we could. For that there has been a lot of work in laying new sea defences, rebuilding the formation and putting the track back.” He wouldn’t be drawn on the cost of the repair works. “Our priority has been to restore the line as quickly as possible. We’ll be counting the cost later, but the work isn’t completed yet.” As a longer term solution, the concrete sea wall at Siddick will be reconstructed. Martin added, “When railways follow the sea so closely for many miles, it is an ongoing battle to maintain the sea defences”. Network Rail’s own maintenance team re-laid the track with works trains bringing 1,200 tonnes of ballast to the two sites north of Workington. The line was reopened on Monday 13 January, just one week after the damage occurred.

Marooned As in Cumbria, the problems on the Cambrian section began during the morning of 3 January. Network Rail engineers were on board the first train of the day to Pwllheli in order to assess potential damage to the sea defences. North of Barmouth it became clear that the service could not continue because of waves crashing over the railway, so the Class 158 unit was turned back and held at Barmouth station - where is was to remain for the next two weeks, before being removed by low loader! Gangs had been mobilised to inspect known problem sites and it became clear that the 10:30 high tide was wreaking havoc. The next five high tides only added to the damage and, at Sandilands near Tywyn, the rock armour on the beach was significantly disrupted and the sea wall damaged. Even gaining access to this site has been problematic, with 1,000 tonnes of stones needing to be removed from the highway. Further north, near Harlech, the sea wall was damaged and approximately 300 tonnes of ballast was lost. It was a similar story at Afon Wen, where the sea wall has required re-capping and 500 tonnes of ballast has had to be replaced. In all there were six washout sites along the route between Aberdovey and Pwllheli, but some of the problems were only discovered after helicopter surveillance was able to commence on 11 January. North of Tywyn, the large sea wall at Tonfanau was found to be damaged and the cliffs at Friog, where the Great Western built the famous avalanche shelter, will require remedial works to stabilise them.

Dilemma Lee Green said, “Our priority is to allow Arriva Trains Wales to reinstate their service as far as Barmouth, as the bus route between there and Machynlleth is tortuous. We have a dilemma at Sandihills, though, on whether to re-lay the track first, or wait until the sea defences are rebuilt. It will probably be a compromise involving some of each.”

Cambrian devastation Cumbria wasn’t the only area to suffer of course. Storm damage caused Arriva Trains Wales services to be suspended between Llanelli and Carmarthen on the West Wales route, but the problems there pale to insignificance compared with the devastation on the Cambrian Coast line. In some areas between Dovey Junction and Pwllheli the scale of the damage has rendered the railway almost unrecognisable. At the time of writing, damage to the railway and its sea defences was still being assessed. Network Rail’s infrastructure maintenance delivery manager for the route is Lee Green, based in Shrewsbury. As he put it, “I have 29 years in the industry and yet I look at this and find it hard to know where to start.” The worst hit stretch is at Llanaber, just north of Barmouth, where the track has been moved sideways by 2.5 metres and a large hole has formed in the sea wall, allowing wave action to excavate the earth behind it and leaving the track suspended. Lee Green continued: “Over a 1,600 metre stretch between Barmouth and Llanaber, we estimate that 3,000 tonnes of ballast has been lost and 5,000 tonnes of rocks from the sea shore have been hurled up onto the track. Beneath Parcel Lane level crossing at Barmouth there’s a hole big enough to park a car in!”

Here, as at Llanaber, the scope of the works will involve a staged approach with input from Network Rail Maintenance teams, Maintenance Capex, Infrastructure Projects and Design. Because the line passes through areas of sensitivity, some of the works will require licensing by Natural Resources Wales. For instance, at Llanaber the beach has lost four metres in height, so the question is whether to replace the lost material, or construct a 50-metre sea wall. The rock armour boulders in this vicinity have become rounded off and no longer interlock, so they will need to be replaced. Lee Green’s view was that train services to Barmouth would recommence on 3 February, but that works north of there would take another three months. It is thought that some of the sea defence projects could take more than 12 months to complete, with the total costs being in excess of £10 million.

the rail engineer • February 2014



Cost and strategy

The disruption caused by the bad weather wasn’t confined to coastal routes. Flooding problems and wind damage occurred over much of the network. Rail routes in the counties of Surrey and Sussex were hard hit, with landslips at Redhill and Coulsdon and flooding at West Croydon and Balcombe.

The risk of flooding and weather damage has increased in recent years. Martin Frobisher said that the conditions on 3 January were exceptional, and he was right of course, but what does exceptional mean these days? Britain’s climate is certainly becoming wetter. Time and again the result of increased rainfall is flooding, damage and disruption to homes, businesses and infrastructure across the UK. The cost of repairs is enormous, as is the cost of prevention. The government has now announced an increase in expenditure on flood defences to £2.3 billion over the next four year period between 2015 and 2021, but how much of this will directly benefit the rail network? The answer is not a lot, and the financial burden will continue to fall largely on Network Rail. High profile schemes such as the sea defences at Dawlish and Teignmouth, costing £8.5 million, have been successful. Much has been done too over recent years in stabilising and grading embankments and cuttings and in improving drainage. Much remains to be done however and it was on this subject that David Ward, Network Rail route director for London and the South East, spoke in front of the Transport Select Committee during January. He said that Network Rail would be seeking additional funding from the Office of Rail Regulation for spending on future severe weather damage that is not covered through insurance. When asked about the overall cost to rail infrastructure of the latest period of severe weather he said, “The damage could cost millions, if not tens of millions.” Back in 2011, Network Rail’s climate change engineer John Dora said: “Britain’s railway today is resilient to adverse weather but, to safeguard its future, we must continue to stay prepared in managing the impact of climate change.” He said the company had a clear adaptation strategy and was working to understand the impacts of climate change. In the meantime, bad weather can still catch us out.

Most of that damage was repaired quickly, but a serious landslip at Ockley between Horsham and Dorking caused more of a problem. Network Rail’s route managing director for Sussex, Tim Robinson, said: “Hundreds of our staff worked in difficult conditions on the railway over Christmas to repair landslips, remove trees and also keep our planned engineering works running. The most difficult challenge now is the landslip at Ockley, where more than 40 metres of the embankment has collapsed.” This slip occurred in a location with very difficult access, which considerably hampered the repair work. Signalling cables were disrupted as well when the side of the embankment fell away. Full reopening of the route was expected to take at least a month.

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the rail engineer • February 2014

South Norwood Station disused railway line with flower-rich habitat mosaics.



reening is good for business and good for Network Rail’s portfolio of stations. Why is this you may ask!? This is because green infrastructure (GI) is multi-functional and can provide a wide range of benefits (including ecosystem services). Examples of the key benefits are shown below:

FACT BOX - GI Benefits

On track - to a greener future


»» Climate change mitigation and adaptation »» Economic productivity and investment »» Wildlife and biodiversity »» Improving air, water and soil quality »» Health and well-being through recreation and access to nature »» Social interaction/cohesion including creating a more defined ‘sense of place’ »» Aesthetic/visual quality »» Hazard regulation through flood attenuation and reducing soil erosion »» Protection and enhancement of cultural and historic assets »» Environmental education »» Food production »» Energy production Railway stations, particularly their car parks and roofs, are dominated by sealed surfaces, resulting in over 75% of rainfall ending up as surface run-off. One of the scenarios predicted as a result of climate change in the UK is a 40% increase in peak rainfall events, which will significantly increase the risk of surface water flooding. This will have financial implications for Network Rail and station operators when it damages infrastructure, affects maintenance or results in delays to travel. GI is a potential solution as it can provide a source control and attenuation for flooding through the delivery of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS). SuDS contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation by providing more natural ways of managing surface water run-off than traditional drainage systems. SuDS aim to mimic natural drainage processes and

help reduce the amount and rate of surface water leaving a site. Attenuating the rate of discharge from heavily built-up sites is one of the most effective ways of managing localised flood risk.

FACT BOX - Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) The term SuDS refers to a range of different techniques such as rain gardens, filter strips, filter drains, green roofs, permeable paving, rainwater harvesting, swales, retention basins, ponds and wetlands. A combination of techniques is often the most effective. Where space is limited, features such as green roofs, or small ground level interventions such as rain gardens, and filter strips, are effective means of delivering the multiple benefits associated with SuDS. The site characteristics must be carefully considered to ensure the future sustainability of the adopted drainage system but, if planned properly from the outset, SuDS need not cost any more than ‘conventional’ drainage schemes.

Case Study 1 - Ruislip Depot Green Roofs The typically large size of depot roofs and the use of conventional down pipes mean that effective drainage can often fail during storm water events. The relatively short life span and annual maintenance costs of these roofs also means that greener systems could provide an all-round solution for better drainage and rainfall attenuation. Alternative approaches are currently being trialled by Melina Kakouratou, engineer at London Underground Limited’s (LUL) Ruislip Depot, where two biodiverse green roofs

the rail engineer • February 2014


Ruislip Depot green roof in 2013 (planted September 2012).

Rain garden planter in Southwark, London.



(each 122m2) have been retrofitted by the Green Roof Consultancy. Runoff rates are being monitored to determine if LUL’s estate would benefit from a broader application of this treatment. Railway tracks and sidings comprise a variety of substrates that provide ideal habitat for xeric (i.e. dry loving) invertebrates. Due to the challenging growing conditions, they are often sparsely vegetated with a diverse and flower-rich vegetation, supporting important reptile and bird species. In some cases, these habitats qualify as ‘wasteland habitat’ which is a habitat of principal importance for biodiversity in England and a priority Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitat for many regions around the country. Where these substrates are left unmanaged, they often result in wildlife havens with high visual interest. An example of this can be seen at South Norwood Junction (see lead picture) - the Dungeness of South London!

Zurich Central Station green roofs in Switzerland.

More innovative approaches to greening can include rain garden planters. These small-scale SuDS schemes divert rain water collected at roof level, via down pipes, to purpose-made raised planters. They are a simple and effective means to brighten up railway stations and encourage biodiversity whilst reducing rain water run-off. They can even be used to grow food.

Case Study 3 - Homerton Embankment Improvements Clapton Community Group and John Little of the Grass Roof Company have been working with Network Rail to bring nature into their urban station. Their embankments of native wildflowers create a wildlifefriendly habitat to encourage butterflies, bees and birds and put a smile on the faces of around 1.8 million passengers that pass through each year. A key element to the long-term success of this project has been to use Ministry of Transport (MOT) Grade 3 aggregate on the banks instead of top soil. Not only does this improve drainage and the risk of erosion, and surface water flooding, but it provides the low nutrient conditions that many of the plants require. More information on their work can be found at Friends of Homerton Station website.

Ben Kimpton is a senior ecologist at The Ecology Consultancy / The Green Roof Consultancy

Homerton station wildflower embankments.


Case Study 2 - Zurich Central Station Platform Canopies The platform canopies at the southern end of the station have biodiverse green roofs designed specifically for wall lizards which favour the dry stony habitat found at ground level, and for a rare wasp associated with dry glacial riverbeds. The design has carefully considered both ecological and structural requirements and uses gabion ‘lizard ladders’ to connect the roofs to ground level. The roofs are part of a ‘zero discharge’ zone for rainwater, but as they have a relatively low storage capacity, swales and permeable paving in the car park have also been used as part of an integrated SuDS scheme. PHOTO: FRIENDS OF HOMERTON STATION


the rail engineer • February 2014

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The Rail Engineer - Issue 112 - February 2014  
The Rail Engineer - Issue 112 - February 2014  

The Rail Engineer Issue 112 February 2014