Latest Rail News

17.09.14

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 opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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