Rail Industry Focus

01.05.15

Piecing it all together at custom house

Source: RTM Apr/May 15

Crossrail’s only Central Section surface station has had its superstructure made 130 miles away and delivered in pre-cast pieces for installation. That part of the build has just finished, explains project manager Mujahid Khalid.

The skeleton of the new Crossrail Custom House station is now in place, with 825 pieces having to be assembled together on-site after being transported down from where they were pre-cast at Steetley in north Nottinghamshire. 

It took a year and a day and was, according to project manager Mujahid Khalid, “like a giant jigsaw puzzle”. 

During the Easter possession of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) tracks, the team – Crossrail and contractor Laing O’Rourke – also installed the main bridges to connect the station to the entrance, which is on the other side of the road. The station replaces the disused North London Line station, which closed in 2006. 

In December, a 34m-long, 90-tonne bridge was lifted into place in three sections by two cranes, linking the station with ExCeL London. 

Khalid told RTM: “It’s all coming together now – most of the heavy lifting now is finished.” 

The pre-cast pieces were delivered to the site on a ‘just in time’ basis. “There’s no real on-site storage here where we could back up units to install,” Khalid said. “They were brought down as and when required to be installed. The trucks usually came onto the north track slab and the gantry crane could easily pick the [pieces] up, lift them across the site and straight into place.”

That giant gantry crane, which was instrumental in the construction of the super-structure and steel frame for the entrance, was disassembled and removed over Easter. 

Khalid said it was a big benefit that the workforce has stayed so constant. “It’s been an excellent relationship [with Laing O’Rourke]. We’ve worked quite collaboratively and closely to make sure we progress the works and achieve our major milestones. 

“They’ve got a very good team here, with lots of skilled people – the same people who we’ve had right from the beginning of the job, who’ve been installing all the pre-cast [sections]. That’s helped with productivity and with safety, that we had that continuity of skillsets. 

“The safety record has been fantastic – we’ve gone 675 days without an LTC (lost time case injury), currently the second highest on Crossrail.” 

That is mostly thanks to the pre-cast installation method, which required far fewer people on site. Khalid said: “A lot of that is to do with the methodology that we’ve used for the pre-cast; with far fewer people on-site, you don’t have to be moving shutters around, pouring large concrete-pours. That’s helped tremendously, as has using the gantry crane – rather than having to bring in mobile cranes on a regular basis.”

The next step is the fit-out. Most of the glass panels are already in place, with the doors coming later in the summer. “You can start to get the architectural ‘feel’ of the station,” Khalid said. 

The architectural fit-out will be completed by the autumn, including the HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system and some of the control systems, such as the lighting. At that point, that station team will hand over the main equipment rooms to the system-wide contractor (ATC, a joint venture of Alstom, TSO & Costain), which will install the transformers, the track slab, the power, and so on. 

Khalid said: “It’s been a good build and I’m looking forward to having the station open.” 

Those system-wide works continue into next year, with dynamic testing from 2017 ahead of the station’s operational opening in 2018.

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