Latest Rail News


Festival Viaduct spans installed for Reading

Another hurdle has been cleared in the massive upgrade of the railway around Reading, with the installation of the last of the six spans of the new Festival Viaduct, writes James Cartwright.

The Festival Viaduct is a secondary viaduct that branches off from the main 2km Reading Viaduct and will carry the cross-country services above the freight lines.

The viaducts are costing £45m of the wider £895m redevelopment of the railway and station at Reading, and are being built by Balfour Beatty. It said that each of the 25m spans consists of four concrete beams that were lifted into place by a 750-tonne crane, requiring careful planning and road closures.

Reading Viaduct - Festival Viaduct beam lift (2)

The company is due to hand over the Festival Viaduct in January 2015 ahead of project completion in the spring, bringing with it major benefits – including creating capacity for an additional four trains per hour to pass through Reading station.

Separating passenger and freight services is a key driver for the Reading project, helping to unclog a bottleneck near the station that has long had disruptive knock-on effects on services from and to the west and south. The work has also allowed the separation of the HSTs in use on the Great Western Main Line from north-south CrossCountry services.

Work on the Reading station itself was completed a year ahead of schedule, and it now has five new platforms, more shops and a new passenger bridge.

Although the station is the main thing that passengers notice, the viaduct and grade separation represents an equally important development.

William Smith, project director at Balfour Beatty, and Kevin Brown, Network Rail’s civil engineering project manager on Reading, updated RTM on the viaduct works for the current edition of the magazine (August/September).

Smith explained that in all his 25 years at the company, he has “never felt closer and more connected on a project” than with Network Rail and some companies further down the supply chain, with collaboration being key to the swift completion of the project.

In that article, Brown also explains why Network Rail and Balfour Beatty staff decided to take a truly ‘hands-on’ approach when a key subcontractor’s premises flooded.

“We could have just sat back and said ‘well, that’s a problem for the supplier’ – but we couldn’t just stop work,” Brown said.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment



Rail industry Focus

  • 27/01/2020ORR launch signalling systems market study

    The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has today (Jan 27) opened a market study into the supply of rail signalling systems. The study will aim to examine issues within the rail signalling marketplace and...
  • 23/01/2020Innovation and Safety - David Clarke, RIA

    Source: RTM Dec 19/Jan 20   David Clarke, Technical Director, Railway Industry Association talks us through the ways innovation can be used to make the railway even safer. In a safety critical...
View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

14/11/2019Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

Rail Technology Magazine’s Matt Roberts explains the significant role data can play within the future development of the rail industry. Standing as a cornerstone of the UK transport network, the rail industry is forever striving to in... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >