Piling work underway at Crossrail’s eco-friendly Old Oak Common depot

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Dec/Jan 2015

Work is well underway to design and construct Crossrail’s new maintenance depot for its Bombardier-built train fleet at Old Oak Common (OOC), with piling starting this week. 

Bombardier Transportation UK Ltd awarded Taylor Woodrow the £142m construction contract for the depot which includes overnight stabling sidings for 33 trains and a state-of-the-art 9-track train maintenance building. The depot will be become operational in stages between May 2017 and May 2018.   

Iain Gascoine, Bombardier’s project director for the Crossrail Depot, told RTM that on 17 April 2014 the company, alongside VINCI Construction UK, took possession of the former GWR locomotive and carriage servicing depot at OOC – situated at Acton in West London. 

Since then the team has completed site establishment for the duration of the four-year construction project, completed the demolition of the old Pullman-sheds (pictured below), and has cleared buried services from the main part of the site. 

280714 Pullman Shed South Elevation

James Mendis, senior project manager at Taylor Woodrow (the civil engineering division of VINCI Construction UK) on the OOC depot project, added that the team is now embarking on detailed designs for the facility and piling work at the site starting. 

“The week beginning 12 January we start piling,” said Mendis, “and there are approximately 250 piles to go into the ground for the main building.  We aim to have this complete by May.” 

181214 Piling Mat

The sequence of construction, he added, will be piling, followed by pile caps and drainage, followed by steel frame erection, cladding including roofing, followed by high-level M&E works, and then the depot shed fit-out and construction of the pits. In parallel with these works the drainage to the main site will be installed along with the connection to the main line and stabling sidings and the associated signalling and OLE works for the depot. 


Back in February 2014 TfL confirmed that it had signed a contract with Bombardier for the delivery of the new train fleet and depot for Crossrail. The 65 new Class 345 nine-car EMUs, each 205m long, will be manufactured and assembled at Bombardier’s plant in Derby with the first due to be delivered in May 2017.  

Bombardier’s contract with TfL includes up to 32-years of depot management and fleet maintenance, and to comply with TfL’s strict environmental requirements and deliver lowest possible running costs the depot needs to be energy-efficient. 

In order to achieve this, energy at the OOC depot will be generated and stored using a hybrid renewables energy system (HRES) comprising of photovoltaic (PV) cells and solar heated water. Also, ground source heat pumps will control heating and cooling, originating from a combined heat and power (CHP) plant. 

Contextual Aerial View

Gascoine told us: “This was something we worked with TfL on, and we have an obligation to get a BREEAM rating of ‘Very Good’. But with the work with VINCI Construction UK to design the M&E services generally, and using the new technology, we aim to achieve an even higher rating. 

“We will also be able to reduce our power requirements by up to one megawatt per year as a result. That makes a big difference to us over the 32-year period of maintaining the trains. 

“The CHP plant brings huge efficiency as does the solar power. That’s also coupled with under-floor heating and we are using almost entirely LED lighting.  There is a planning requirement to generate at least 20% of the main building’s energy requirements from renewable sources– we are now looking at achieving up to 30%.” 

With regards to the ground source heat pumps, Mendis noted that as part of the construction the piles are to have geothermal loops installed. 

“In addition to that we have got approximately 50 bore holes, which are 150m deep and about 150mm in diameter going into the ground that have thermal loops in them as well,” he said. “This will be used to heat and cool the building.” 

Drilling these bore holes started in mid December 2014. 


Asked what challenges have faced the construction teams so far, Gascoine said that there haven’t been many. He stated that land, which is located on the former OOC diesel depot, is favourable. 

240914 Demolition Pullman Shed

He added that because the development area is not a rail site at the moment, with no live track coming in and out, work has been able to progress without any problems. 

“The site won’t become a live railway until mid 2017 when we start to electrify and power-up the overhead lines and get the test trains running,” said Gascoine. 

“So, progress wise we should do pretty well. We have made good progress on the demolition and that’s mainly where we could have hit problems, but so far we haven’t.” 

Mendis added that because Taylor Woodrow and Bombardier are co-located it has made it easier to rectify any on-site issues if and when they have occurred. 

Depot’s long-term legacy 

The construction of the maintenance depot at OOC is expected to support 244 jobs, plus 16 apprenticeships. And when fully operational the depot will support 80 jobs to maintain the new fleet of trains. 

During construction, Mendis confirmed that Taylor Woodrow and its supply chain partners would take on 13 apprentices. Bombardier has had to make a more significant commitment. 

“We have an obligation under the contract with TfL to apply Responsible Procurement, which amongst other things means recruiting from the local environment,” explained Gascoine. “That has a big impact on Bombardier, even more than VINCI Construction UK or Taylor Woodrow, because we have to run the maintenance depot for 32 years, so most of our recruitment will be done locally. 

“Hopefully, as well as the site being environmentally-friendly, this will enhance the chances of local employment and apprenticeships in the long term.” 

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