Rail Industry Focus

01.05.14

Logistics key to London Bridge upgrade success

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Apr/May 2014

The first phase of the dramatic London Bridge station rebuild has gone live. David Stevenson caught up with
Clive Loosemore, delivery director for the project, about the ongoing works.

The extensive redevelopment work at London Bridge station, a vital part of the government-sponsored £6.5bn Thameslink project, is on schedule with two new platforms – 15 and 14 – and their longer, wider canopies brought into use on 31 March 2014.

International engineering group Costain won the Network Rail contract to help increase the capacity of the station and make it fit for 21st century travellers, unclogging existing bottlenecks to enable more frequent services.

The scope of the contract included the removal of the existing roof, the complete demolition of all the platforms and the formation of a new concourse at ground level that will be the size of the pitch at Wembley Stadium.

Demolition work

“We’re rebuilding the whole station through nine phases of work,” said Clive Loosemore, delivery director at Costain. “We’ve
demolished three platforms completely, as well as demolishing the existing brick arches that supported these platforms, as part of stage one.”

He explained that a key factor in bringing the two new platforms online ‘to the day’ was the removal of the existing roof by February 2013, a major piece of work performed whilst the station was fully functional and with no lost train time.

During the first phase of the project, Costain also started the demolition of the existing brick arches to form the new ground level concourse in May last year.

Loosemore said: “The concourse, when completed, will be larger than the pitch at Wembley Stadium. Through this first phase 21% of the demolition was completed with three existing terminating platforms taken out of use.

“Following the demolition work, continuous flight augering (CFA) piles – 1,050mm in diameter and over 30m long – were constructed and these are the foundations for the concrete columns and crossheads that support the bridge decks.

“Precast concrete units form the platforms and off-site prefabricated cassettes form the platform canopies. Installation of these off-site constructed components was key to meeting the fast-track programme.”

Prefabricated canopies

To ensure that both the schedule and quality were maintained for the project, major sections of the new platforms and the iconic ‘eyebrow’ canopies were prefabricated off-site.

Before bringing the canopies on-site, Costain’s steel subcontractors, Watson Steel (now known as Severfield-Watson Structures Ltd following a merger) and Prater, created a 60m mock-up of the canopy steelwork and cladding at their airfield premises at Dalton near Thirsk. The original constructability prototype was dismantled and re-built once to prove the construction method.

The facility was then used both as a training ground for the people who would be erecting the canopies and also allowing all stakeholders, including the end-user, to have the opportunity of viewing it and contributing to the final design.

Loosemore explained: “They put it together in a couple of weeks. We were then able to take the end-users, the railway systems and maintenance people up there to have a look, as well as the architects, and get it agreed. Then we went into fabrication. The canopy prefabrication takes place in Bolton.”

 

Work on the canopy is split between three subcontractors: Watson is handling the steelwork, Prater is constructing the roof ‘cassettes’ or panels that have all
the containment for the wiring systems, and the containment and fittings are installed by NG Bailey.

Eventually, added Loosemore, the new canopy will cover 15 platforms and the sections, if laid end-to-end, would stretch 4km.

One challenge the Costain delivery director identified during phase one was that the finishing work on the platforms, including block paving and copers, was undertaken through the wettest winter on record. However, what was more impressive is that throughout all this work, which was performed on a 24/7 schedule, the station remained open to passengers with no reduction in passenger numbers.

Logistics

So, what was the key to making this work? Loosemore told RTM: “Given the location of the station, logistics are key to the success of the project.

“All deliveries to the project are carefully planned and allocated delivery slots. Lorries are held in a loading bay some 500m from the site where they are checked to ensure compliance with Costain’s strict requirements regarding vehicle safety features.

“Additionally, relationships with the local community are excellent, with Costain employing an experienced community relations manager who held a similar role at their highly successful St Pancras project. Regular meetings are held with the local community to update them on events and the project team undertake a lot of support to the local school.”

Legacy

As well as all the redevelopment work related to the London Bridge station redevelopment, the project is also offering a number of training opportunities.

So far, as part of its training development programme, the team has taken on 25 apprentices and formed an ‘academy’ which has the backing of the CITB (the Construction Industry Training Board). Many of the apprentices are local to the Southwark area and, additionally, more than 20 previously unemployed Southwark residents have been employed on the project.

With a completion date of May 2018 – consisting of nine construction phases – Costain stated that it is on schedule to deliver one of Britain’s biggest station redevelopments.

“The first two platforms are now complete and the ‘eyebrow’ canopies have met everyone’s expectations and are a key feature of this development,” stated Loosemore. “Costain and Network Rail are now working on Stage 1A of the project. Two further platforms have been taken out of service and will be replaced by two new platforms by the end of August 2014 –some four months since the end of Stage 1, indicating how continuous improvement has been used to good effect. What’s good news is that the project is going very well and we’re on schedule.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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