Rail Industry Focus

01.11.14

Platform reconstruction progressing at London Bridge

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Oct/Nov 2014

Laurence Whitbourn, Network Rail’s project director at London Bridge, discusses the latest phase of platform reconstruction works on the major redevelopment scheme.

As part of the £6.5bn Thameslink programme, Network Rail is completely rebuilding London Bridge station to increase capacity at the capital’s oldest rail terminal. The work has been phased to keep the station open for business and minimise disruption. But delivering the new street-level concourse has required significant demolition works.

Platform progress

In April, the project partners re-opened platforms 14 and 15, which were demolished and rebuilt over an 11-month period, as part of the £700m project. As well as the new precast platform structures, new prefabricated eyebrow canopies over the platforms were also installed.

The track layout is being completely reconfigured and one of the largest and most complex signalling schemes attempted in northern Europe is to be installed, with the new station fully open in 2018.

Costain is delivering the project under Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) for Network Rail, alongside partners including Balfour Beatty (track) and Siemens (signalling).

Phased work

After bringing platforms 14 and 15 back online, reconstruction moved to platforms 12 and 13, which re-opened at the start of September. More than 1,200 engineers worked on the improvements, which included the installation of new track, new signalling equipment and the reconstruction of a triple-track Victorian railway bridge.

Now, heading into the final months of 2014, reconstruction work on platforms 10 and 11 is underway.

Laurence Whitbourn, Network Rail’s project director at London Bridge, told RTM: “So far we’ve gone through several stages of the works. Principally we take a set of platforms out of use and then do the demolition work.

“This is done in two stages. Firstly, we demolish down to the top of the existing 19th century arches to build up the new platforms; and then where the new concourse section is, we demolish right down to ground level, which will form the space for the new concourse.

“Once we’ve done that demolition we build up in the concourse area, on top of the piles, some new piers to support the track, and then we build up on the existing arches the levels to take the new precast platforms.

“We then install the platform, full-length, into the area and hand it over to our colleagues in the railway systems part of the programme, who install the ballast, the track and the signalling assets – ready for the commission of that stage. Then we move on to the next set of platforms; that has broadly been the sequence.”

Eventually, every platform will be fully integrated to the same concourse – the size of the pitch at Wembley Stadium – for the first time.

Platforms 10 & 11

Platforms 10 and 11 are now demolished, and the team intends to finish the precast platform units by November.

“We’re then carrying out the canopy works, the paving finishes on the platforms, signage and M&E installation through to mid-November,” said Whitbourn. On 14 November, Whitbourn hands over to the track and signalling team, who will install the ballast and track in time for the next blockade, from 20 December.

One lesson learned, he said, “is that sometimes we’re better placed to do some of the removal for the next stage of the track and signalling assets on behalf of our colleagues”.

There has been some ‘transfer of scope’ between project partners to deliver the best benefits for the overall project.

“Early interaction with parties has been imperative,” said Whitbourn. “For instance, involving and informing the operational teams from the station and the train operator in really good time about any issues arising in the blockade has given us plenty of scope to resolve any problems.”

Lessons have been learned in the techniques of constructing the new station facilities. “The guys get more experience the more we’ve done and repeated it,” he said. “On a package by package level there are lots of incremental gains, with things like paving or M&E, where they are learning the best methods and the best fixings. And those lessons can be taken on for the future phases.”

It is expected that platforms 10 and 11 will re-open in January 2015, with the first part of the new station concourse open in 2016.

Whitbourn added: “To the best of my understanding approximately 80% of the concourse will be open in 2016, with the remainder being used to facilitate the final phases of the works, which aren’t open at the time.”

Time challenge

The main challenge that Network Rail and its project partners have faced is time. “We have very fixed points in time, and a pre-planned timetable, for when we need to do the handovers,” Whitbourn told RTM. “The main challenge is handling the constrained period to do the construction and making sure we interface with our colleagues on the other part of the programme – to hand them the completed civils works at the right times to do the installation of track and signalling so we’re well-placed to go into a blockade.”

Collaborative working has been “essential” on the upgrade. To come successfully out of a blockade, all the parties working in the area have to have delivered their works. “There is no success if only one party achieves their scope”.

The London Bridge Area Partnership, a high-level alliance between the main contract leads on the project, has helped keep the project on track and dealt with any arising issues.

“We meet regularly with the partners,” he said. “And we have an implementation schedule board where we’re checking that the interface milestones are being maintained and if there are issues with regards to transferring between partners – we look at how to address those.

“We also have the delivery partner forum, where we look at the delivery of the works as a whole and every partner contributes to finding solutions that are in the interest of the programme not the individual partner.”

Next phases

Once the current phase of work is complete, the project partners will be focused on the Western Approach Viaduct and developing the supports for the new tracks, which are increasing the capacity through to Borough Viaduct. However, there are still several key project stages for the partners to complete.

Whitbourn said: “We’ve met all of the deadlines so far, and they remain challenging moving forwards – as you can imagine for such a complex project.

“We’re working with some existing assets that are quite old, and each time we go onto a new phase we uncover new challenges. So the programme will remain challenging right the way through to completion, but we have some of the best contractors and engineers working on the programme. And I am sure we’re going to overcome any of the challenges we face as they present themselves.”

Timeline

Current stage (stage 1B) (Sept to Dec 2014)

  • Platforms K and L (new platforms 10 and 11) constructed, brought into use 5 Jan 2015

Stage Central Core and Stage 2 (Jan 15 to Dec 15)

  • Platforms 8 and 9 taken out of passenger use 19 Dec 2014
  • Platforms 4, 5 and 6 taken out of passenger use 9 Jan 2015
  • Platforms G, H and J (new platforms 7, 8 and 9) constructed
  • Completion of new Viaduct from Borough High Street to London Bridge tation
  • Charing Cross trains will travel non-stop through platforms 4 and 6 from Jan to May 2015
  • Charing Cross trains will travel non-stop through platforms 5 and 6 from May to Dec 2015
  • Thameslink services will cease through London Bridge on 19 Dec 2014, not stopping until 29 May 2018.

Stage 2A (Jan 2016 to Sep 2016)

  • Construct platforms E and F (new platforms 5 and 6).
  • Charing Cross trains will run non-stop through platforms 7, 8 and 9 and over new viaduct.
  • At the end of this stage the Southern part of the new Concourse opens

Stage 3 (Sep 2016 to Apr 2017)

  • Construct platforms A and B (new platforms 1 and 2)
  • Platforms 1, 2 and 3 are taken out of passenger use on 26 August 2016
  • Charing Cross services resume stopping using platforms 7, 8 and 9
  • Cannon Street services will run non-stop through new platforms 5 and 6
  • Bermondsey Dive Under completes in Dec 2016 to allow for greater throughput through London Bridge from 2018

Stage 3A (Apr to Dec 2017)

  • Construct platforms C and D (new platforms 3 and 4)
  • Cannon Street services will run non-stop through new platforms 1 and 2
  • New platform 6 is brought into passenger use in Aug 17, for Charing Cross services

Stage 4 (Jan to May 18)

  • Finishing works to London Bridge Station, Northern part of the Concourse opens 2 Jan 2018
  • Thameslink services will run non-stop through new platforms 4 and 5.
  • Cannon Street services stopping at new Platforms 1, 2 and 3 from 2nd Jan 2018

Post stage 4 (May 2018)

  • Thameslink stopping services resume 29 May 2018
  • Cannon Street services through platforms 1, 2 and 3
  • Thameslink services through platforms 4 and 5
  • Charing Cross services through platforms 7, 8 and 9
  • Terminating services to platforms 10 to 15

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