New technology helping Network Rail redevelop Liverpool Lime Street

New technology helping Network Rail redevelop Liverpool Lime StreetNetwork Rail is using virtual reality technology to save time and money and improve safety as it prepares to redevelop one of Britain’s major stations.

Liverpool Lime Street will undergo major work to transform it into a station to meet the needs of the growing numbers of passengers who use it every year.

As part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, £340 million is being spent across Merseyside to improve the railway for passengers, including changing the layout and length of Lime Street’s platforms to accommodate more and longer trains and upgrading signalling to make it more reliable.

The virtual reality technology has enabled Network Rail to carry out 4D virtual modelling to prepare for the work, reducing the amount of time needed on track and the potential to impact on train services.

Safety and efficiency of work is improved as virtual reality enables planners to avoid overlaps between different engineering teams as well as identifying potential risks and hazards which could potentially impact on reopening the railway on time.

Graeme Whitehead, Liverpool Lime Street project manager, said:  “On major projects, where you have people laying track, moving bridges and installing electrical wires overhead, all at the same time, we need precise planning to avoid overlaps that could potentially cause projects to overrun or risk the safety of those working. 

Using this state-of-the-art technology we can spot those clashes before they happen making the project safer and more efficient. This delivers benefits for passengers, taxpayers and our orange army of engineers.”

Simon Wray, managing director of Specialist Project Integration, the company which developed the software, said: “Liverpool Lime Street is the first rail project in Britain to have a virtual reality model at its core.

A unique feature of the system is that it works on multiple formats including mobile devices. Liverpool Lime Street is also the first project to use Oculus Rift virtual reality technology, which allows for a fully immersive experience for training and engagement.”

Regeneration scheme to deliver thousands of new properties and jobs

Regeneration scheme to deliver thousands of new properties and jobsA massive programme of development of railway stations and surrounding land will deliver thousands of new homes and jobs that will boost local growth.

The agreement between Network Rail and the Homes and Communities Agency will see them working with local councils to kick-start development opportunities across England’s railway stations for housing and businesses.

The ambitious initiative could deliver up to 10,000 new properties on sites around stations in the coming years.

Government wants to hear from at least 20 local authorities to take the scheme forward.

Drawing on the example set by the transformation of Birmingham New Street, Manchester Victoria and London Kings Cross, government will bring together high-calibre technical expertise and local knowledge to increase development opportunities that exist throughout the entire rail estate.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “We’re determined to fire up communities and back local business so they build much needed housing and create thousands of jobs.

Rail stations are a hub of communities, connectivity and commerce and should be making the most of their unique potential to attract investment and opportunities.

With record numbers of people travelling by train, it makes sense to bring people closer to stations and develop sites that have space for thousands of new homes and offices.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “As a one nation government we are determined to ensure further opportunities are grasped to put stations at the heart of wider community regeneration.

This will help deliver thousands of new homes and jobs and deliver a substantial return to the taxpayer.”

Building plans for Acton Main Line station unveiled

Building plans for Acton Main Line station unveiledNetwork Rail has submitted proposals for a new station building at Acton Main Line to Ealing Council for approval that will create new facilities.

The proposals for a bright, modern, spacious new ticket hall are part of the Crossrail project in preparation for the arrival of Elizabeth line services.

The new glass and steel structure, designed by Bennetts Associates on behalf of Network Rail, will be located on Horn Lane.

The transformation of the station will be carried out by Network Rail as part of their Railway Upgrade Plan. From the end of 2017 the station will be run by Transport for London as part of London’s integrated transport network.

Matthew Steele, Crossrail Programme Director at Network Rail said: “Our proposed design will completely transform Acton Main Line station and provide a greatly enhanced passenger experience for those using the station. The ticket office will be light and airy and the station will be fully accessible, with new lifts providing step-free access from street level to trains.”

Matthew White, Crossrail Surface Director said: “The Crossrail project will provide a step change in public transport for people in the area – new trains, quicker journeys and a brand new station at Acton Main Line. The new service will provide fast and reliable journeys to the West End, the City and Canary Wharf.”

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz said: “It is getting very exciting as the arrival of Crossrail draws nearer. Ealing is one of only two London boroughs which will have five Crossrail stations.

It will bring huge economic benefits and we are working closely with Crossrail to ensure that the new stations are well-designed, innovative and accessible so that travelling is a speedy and pleasant experience.”

When the new railway fully opens in 2019, four Elizabeth line services an hour in each direction will serve Acton Main Line station, allowing passengers to travel right through central London without having to change trains.

Construction of new station at Abbey Wood gets underway

Construction of new station at Abbey Wood gets underwayNetwork Rail has begun work to build the new station at Abbey Wood as part of the Crossrail programme that will create new constuction jobs.

The first of more than 100 piled foundations which will support the new station have been installed. The piling will continue until the end of the year, when the building will start to become visible above ground.

The station, which will be built over two new dedicated Crossrail tracks and those used by North Kent services, will open at the end of 2017.

Work has been underway in Abbey Wood since 2013 and has included the construction of an interim station, the demolition of the old station and the installation of a new one mile section of track.

Matthew White, Crossrail Surface Director said: “Crossrail will help to transform Abbey Wood, dramatically improving transport links and bringing a state-of the-art station.

A train every five minutes at peak times will make it quicker and easier to get to a range of destinations across London and the South East.”

Matthew Steele, Crossrail Programme Director at Network Rail said: “It’s great news that the construction of the new station is underway. As part of our railway upgrade plan, we are on schedule to provide people in Abbey Wood with a fantastic new station by the end of 2017.

Local people will benefit from a spacious new ticket hall, step-free access to every platform and better access to local bus services.”

Willmott Dixon wins Network Rail work

Willmott Dixon wins Network Rail workWillmott Dixon Interiors wins £20 million contract for offices near Blackfriars Station

Willmott Dixon Interiors has followed its recent contract win to fit-out the Design Museum’s new home in Kensington by with a key role at Network Rail’s offices near Blackfriars Station.

Willmott Dixon’s interiors specialists will refurbish the six storey building at 1 Puddle Dock to create a new home in central London for nearly 400 Network Rail staff.

The 100,000 sq ft modernisation and refit includes Cat A fit-out for space to sub-let and fit-out of Network Rail’s office areas to Cat B standard along with new M&E installations, lift installations, windows and external doors.

Working with Willmott Dixon Interiors are Scott Brownrigg, EPR Architects, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Watermans as structural engineer and Sweett Group, who provided quantity surveying, project management, CDM-Designer and sustainability services. The project is set for completion in summer 2016.

Willmott Dixon Interiors chief operating officer Mike Hart:“We’re delighted to have been chosen by Network Rail to fit out their new central London offices.

The location and fast-track nature of the project further highlights our expertise in delivering large-scale office refurbishment in busy urban sites that provide modern space for a variety of uses.”

It’s another major project in 2015 for the company that fits-out over 500,000ft² of space each year in key sectors such as commercial, hotels, health, leisure and education.

Plans to upgrade London Waterloo station

Plans to upgrade London Waterloo stationA multi-million pound expansion of London Waterloo has seen its planning application for by Network Rail submitted, with work on the £400 development set to start in October.

The first part of the project involves strengthening three bridges on the approach to the platforms as well as changing the layout of the track and platforms.

John Halsall, route infrastructure director for Network Rail, said: “The project to improve the railway and strengthen the bridges on the approach to Waterloo is an absolutely vital part of our plans to improve capacity at Britain’s busiest station.

The submission of the planning application to carry out this work is an important step forward and, if approved, we expect to start work before the end of the year.”

The planning application for the proposed work has been submitted to the London Borough of Lambeth.

If permission is granted preparation work would be expected to start in October 2015, with construction taking place between November 2015 and the end of 2016.  Associated track and signalling work will then continue until mid-2017.

Tim Shoveller, managing director of South West Trains, added: “We operate one of the busiest railways in Europe, with over half a million passenger journeys every day.

The biggest investment for decades on our network is well underway but the work to expand London Waterloo is absolutely vital to make sure we can provide much needed extra space, both for our customers now and in the future.”

Work starts to prepare Bath’s railway scheme

Work starts to prepare Bath’s railway electification schemeNetwork Rail’s ‘orange army’ has started work to prepare the railway line through Bath for the arrival of electrification and a new fleet of faster and greener electric trains.

The £50 million project forms part of Network Rail’s Great Western Electrification Programme to modernise and significantly improve the main railway line that runs from London Paddington to Swansea.

The work will involve lowering 10km of track through Dundas Aqueduct, Box Tunnel, Middle Hill Tunnel and Sydney Gardens, removing the need to make significant changes to the historic infrastructure in these areas.

This track lowering work will also involve installing 11 new sets of points over the duration of the project that is due to complete on 1 September.

Andy Haynes, Network Rail’s project director for the west of England, said: “The preparation work we are doing in Bath is essential to make the line ready for electrification and the benefits this will bring.

The new electric trains are faster and will have more seats, more legroom and more tables. They are also greener and quieter, benefitting those who live close to the railway line.”

Rail minister, Claire Perry, said: “Improving the UK’s rail network is a vital part of our long-term economic plan. We are fully committed to electrification of the Great Western line as our top priority, and the work at Bath is another milestone in delivering this essential scheme.”

Eric Wright wins Network Rail principal contract

Eric Wright wins Network Rail principal contractEric Wright Rail (EWR) has been awarded a Principal Contractor Licence scheme by Network Rail that will pave the way for rail infrastructure projects and create new jobs.

The full Licence follows a lengthy process to achieve a provisional PCL, which enabled the company to bid for the Kent work.

Adrian Taylor, director of EWR, said: “Rail sector projects require specialist expertise and extremely high levels of health & safety due diligence so any contractor working in the industry must demonstrate that they have the technical and procedural requirements needed to meet Network Rail’s standards.

“PCL qualification is the formal process by which those requirements are first assessed for a provisional licence and then audited on a live site for a full PCL licence. We are delighted to have passed both steps with flying colours.”

The Kent project involved design development and installation of an electronic early warning system at a level crossing in Edenbridge, including all associated signalling, foundations and service ‘troughing’ works.

Network Rail’s licensing team attended the site to witness the works and interview the project team to ensure that EWR was adhering to its PCL systems and processes before awarding the full licence.

EWR will now be able to bid for further Netowrk Rail infrastructure schemes across the UK, building on the company’s track record in the rail sector, which includes numerous station car park upgrades and a number of minor works projects for various rail operators.

First new Crossrail tracks laid in South East London

First new Crossrail tracks laid in South East LondonWork to install a new two-mile section of track between the Crossrail tunnel portal at Plumstead and Abbey Wood station is now underway.

More than a mile of new track has been laid by Network Rail so far, representing the first section of dedicated Crossrail track to be installed anywhere along the route.

Work has included the re-alignment of the existing North Kent line, which serves trains between London and Kent, and the replacement of the Church Manor Way footbridge.

Ahead of Crossrail services beginning in 2018, the tracks will now be used to support the fit-out of the new tunnels to create a fully functioning railway beneath the streets of London.

Matthew White, Crossrail Surface Director said: “Crossrail will help to transform Abbey Wood, providing a step change in public transport and encouraging investment and development in the local area.

At peak time, 12 Crossrail trains an hour will make it significantly quicker and easier to get to range of destinations across London and the South East.”

Matthew Steele, Crossrail Programme Director at Network Rail, said: “Completing this section of track on time is important because it means that Crossrail can get on with the job of fitting out the new tunnels.

Once fully open in 2018, the new tracks will link Abbey Wood to the rest of London like never before, providing local people with a dramatically improved rail service.”

Crossrail represents the single biggest addition to the local rail network since the North Kent line was built in 1849. From 2018, a train every five minutes during the peak will allow residents to travel right through the capital without having to change trains.

The journey from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf and Bond Street will be around 20 minutes quicker and passengers travelling to Heathrow will be able to cut around 40 minutes off their journey.

Crossrail works set to start at Shenfield and Brentwood

Crossrail works set to start at Shenfield and BrentwoodNetwork Rail is set to begin work for the Crossrail programme at Brentwood and Shenfield stations that will create new jobs and boost the trades.

Network Rail will gain access to the railway embankment behind Friars Avenue and begin preparatory work. Starting around Monday 9 February, de-vegetation will begin to clear land for a new platform at the station and to strengthen the embankment.

The clearance is expected to last around three weeks and will be kept to an absolute minimum. Letters have been sent to all the nearby properties and representatives from Network Rail have visited residents to make sure that they know about the works.

Network Rail is in contact with residents to see whether additional trees can be planted at 1a to 25 Friars Avenue to mitigate the impact of tree removal along the railway.

To keep disruption for residents to a minimum, the majority of the work will take place during week days. However, a small amount of vegetation close to the overhead power lines can only be removed when trains are not running, so will be taken out over the weekend.

All work must take place within the acceptable noise limits set out as part of the Crossrail Act and a number of measures will be taken to ensure that any noise is kept to a minimum.

It is expected that no more than two lorries a day will be required for the de-vegetation works. Traffic marshals will co-ordinate all traffic and pedestrian movements and clear signage will be installed for lorries, cars and pedestrians. Lorries will enter Friars Avenue car park via Hutton Road and Friars Avenue.

The Leader of Brentwood Borough Council, Councillor Barry Aspinell, said: “We have been working hard with the Crossrail Team to make sure that any inconvenience to local residents and traders is kept to an absolute bare minimum.

Although the Crossrail Act does mean we have a limited role, we have been very proactive at sharing our local knowledge and experience with Crossrail and the other organisations involved to address key issues that concern our residents and businesses.”

Matthew White, Surface Director at Crossrail said: “Network Rail and its contractors will be taking all possible measures to make sure that any disruption to local people will be kept to an absolute minimum during the works at Shenfield and Brentwood.

Crossrail will transform rail services for local people providing new rolling stock, more frequent and reliable services and the ability to travel right through central London without having to change trains.”