Rail Industry Focus


Opening of NUCKLE stations pushed back until June

Source: RTM Apr/May 15

Ian Walters, managing director of SLC Rail, discusses the latest developments on the NUCKLE project and why the initial station work won’t be complete for the May timetable change. David Stevenson reports.

Work on the long-awaited Coventry to Nuneaton rail upgrade is well underway, but the completion date for two new stations on the line and platform extensions at Bedworth has been pushed back to June 2015. 

When construction started, RTM reported that work would be finished for the timetable change in May, but this will now be 21 June. 

The upgrade works on the £13.6m NUCKLE (Nuneaton, Coventry, Kenilworth and Leamington Spa) project include new two-platform stations at Coventry Arena and Bermuda Park as part of the phase 1 works. 

Coventry Arena 

It is at Coventry Arena where issues have occurred. Ian Walters, managing director of SLC Rail, appointed to oversee delivery of the upgrade, told us the relocation of a signal has been the main cause for delay. 

“At Coventry Arena piling is now complete for all of the platforms and all of the other piling and platform beams and planks have been installed,” he said. “However, on the retail side at Arena, which is the up side, there was a signal – CN6550 – right in the location of where the platform was being constructed.” 

He added that Network Rail commissioned the signal in its new location over the weekend of 11-12 April, but the signal relocation was two months later than planned, because it took so long to get the signal post made.

“Because the fabrication took slightly longer, we had to re-book critical resources to carry out the commissioning,” said Walters. “And as the signal was so fundamental, being in the middle of the platform, it was bound to then have a knock-on effect onto the rest of the programme.” 

To mitigate any major programme impacts, the team built most of the platform around the signal in situ over the weekend of 11-12 April – when the new signal location was commissioned. Beams were installed in the same possession window to fill in that bit of the platform. 

The new station at Coventry Arena is needed to serve the conferences, business meetings and major events including Coventry City Football Club’s and Wasps Rugby Club’s home matches. 

“We have delivered some under-track crossings and they have been completed, and we’ve also done drainage works for the queueing area,” said Walters. “There is going to be 1,000 sq m of queueing area for attendees at major events to be safely managed onto the station platforms. Those works are underway.” 

Bermuda Park 

At the Bermuda Park station site on the Bermuda Industrial Estate, SLC Rail and Buckingham Group Contracting have done some gas main protection works, and the utility diversions are now complete. 

Walters told us that the work is running slightly behind Arena but piling and beams are now in place. “It took a little longer to set up site there, but work is motoring there now. It will be the last of the three to finish but it is moving on,” he said. 

To accommodate longer three-car trains at Bedworth station, the team has been extending the platforms. 

“Bedworth is the most advanced site; if you went to site you would think it is nearly complete,” said Walters. “The copers have been put on, the tie-in to the existing platforms is underway and there has been some tamping of the track and re-stressing completed on both lines.” 

Walters said London Midland has been integral in helping the team re-plan to 21 June, “and it is good to have that sort of engagement on a scheme like this”. 

Going forward 

The initial works in phase 1 of NUCKLE will connect Nuneaton to Arena and improve travel links along the line, but there is a second package of track and signalling works and a new four-car bay platform at Coventry. 

The project is part-funded by the Department for Transport, with the rest coming from Centro, the European Regional Development Fund, Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council. Development work for package 2 will start in May with various Cabinet approvals in March securing the funding for the works. 

“It is the intention to appoint Network Rail to develop package 2 [of phase 1] through its framework contract with VolkerRail and Mott MacDonald,” Walters told us. “And because of the age of the previous designs we are now looking at refreshing all of GRIP3 and GRIP 4 to get us to the end of GRIP 4 by the end of January 2016 so we are then on target for an opening of May 2017.”

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