Rail Industry Focus


Extensive ground decontamination delays Bromsgrove station relocation

Source: RTM Apr/May 15

The Barnt Green to Bromsgrove electrification project is part of a £100m investment in the railway in north Worcestershire. Richard Dugdale, the project’s sponsor, and Subeagh Singh, scheme project manager, discuss its complexities. David Stevenson reports.

Resignalling work and the relocation of the new station at Bromsgrove have been delayed, but the overall project timescale will still be met, RTM has been told. 

Barnt Green to Bromsgrove electrification, which has largely gone under the radar recently, will significantly improve local rail services once complete. 

In fact, by the end of 2016 the new station will see 4tph (trains per hour) in each direction compared to the current 1tph, and Barnt Green will go from the recently increased 3tph to 4tph. 

However, getting there appears tricky. 

Station relocation 

Work is progressing on the structures clearance at Barnt Green and in parallel the construction of a new railway station at Bromsgrove has been taking shape – but is now delayed. 

Network Rail’s CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan stated: “The station relocation needs to happen before electrification to enable the extension of the Cross City Line services. The station relocation is separately funded and constitutes a replacement of the existing two-platform station, with longer platforms and with the additional facilities to turn back trains. The additional track work and signalling required to operate the turn-back will be provided under this project.” 

Richard Dugdale, Network Rail’s project sponsor, told RTM that the relocation is a considerable undertaking and the original completion date was May 2015. But this won’t happen. 

The station project is a third party scheme, promoted by Centro and Worcestershire County Council, being delivered by Network Rail. Work started on the new site, 450m south of its current location, last year. 

“But we’ve encountered issues there, principal of which is that [the need for] ground decontamination is more extensive and onerous than the trial pits would have led us to believe,” said Dugdale. “It is a difficult site, as it is on the site of an old locomotive depot and a more recent large oil terminal. There are some considerable contamination issues and that decontamination work, which is probably four times bigger than predicted, is just concluding. 

“This has involved a deep dig and the removal of spoil and the replacement with clean fill, mostly in the area that will be the new car park.” 

The date for the station opening is now November 2015, but that delay does not matter in output terms, Dugdale said. “The new and the old will continue to service the existing level of timetable up until the December 2016 timetable change, which is when the electrics come in.” 

Re-signalling deferral 

As well as delaying the station relocation, Network Rail has deferred a 12-day closure in late October for the new signalling system to be installed between Ashchurch (Cheltenham) and Five Ways, to be brought into use on 2 November. 

Part of the project, needed to electrify the line, is that the existing signalling equipment between Barnt Green and Bromsgrove requires immunisation works, which will result in a complete signalling renewal and control transfer to the West Midlands Signalling Centre. 

“We are not going to commission in November; it’ll be next year,” said Dugdale. “The main reason for this is that the readiness reviews indicate a level of risk associated with the November commissioning which we won’t accept. 

“We are deliberately re-planning and allowing the resignalling project more time and deferring what was a sizeable closure of the route through Bromsgrove – not just for resignalling.” 

Network Rail has a regulatory requirement to have Barnt Green to Bromsgrove energised by July 2016. 

Dugdale said: “We are still working to this schedule. However, we are currently in negotiation with train and freight operators about the access requirements for the signalling commissioning. I can’t say any more than that, other than it will be early 2016.” 

c.Elliott Brown edit

Structures clearance 

The structures clearance to allow electrification began earlier this year. Subeagh Singh, scheme project manager, said three road over-bridges – Hewell Lane, Linthurst Newtown, and Greens – and one footbridge at Barnt Green station, fall foul of electrification standards and all need to be demolished and rebuilt with increased heights. 

Kier is doing the footbridge at Barnt Green, while MPB is delivering the road over-bridge works. It has been demolishing the bridge decks, increasing the heights of the bridges with pre-cast units and replacing them with new pre-cast unit decks. 

“The decks are currently made up of stone bridges, so as part of the planning application we’ve agreed that the rail face will be concrete form liner. However, [for] the internal faces, we’re either re-using the stone or using pre-cast.” 

At the most complex bridge, Linthurst Newtown, the highway has been raised by 1.2m and some residents’ driveways have been relocated. “The area is quite built-up, so there has been a lot of work to develop drop-in sessions to discuss the developments with residents,” said Singh. 

One person’s drive would have been 1.2m lower than the road after the works, so Network Rail compensated him and relocated his driveway. “The resident actually now has better sighting and visibility to the bridge when he comes out of the driveway…It has been a win-win for all,” Singh said. 

Work on that bridge was a few days behind schedule when we spoke to Dugdale and Singh in mid-April, but was due for completion. 

At Hewell Lane, however, the project was three weeks behind schedule because three weekends were lost when Severn Trent and its contractor Amey had to postpone the diversion of water pipes. The other utilities had already been successfully diverted. 

Singh said: “Unfortunately, we don’t have any direct control over Severn Trent. That has caused some delays but they’re back on site.” 

Getting approvals for the type of cast stone for the bridges at Hewell Lane and Greens took more time than expected too, Singh said. 

With regards to the old Midland Railway footbridge at Barnt Green, Dugdale said that this is to be completely removed and replaced with a higher structure next to it. 

“Workers are onsite but we’re in the foundation stage and fabrication,” he added. “There will be a switchover point in the summer when we are happy that the new bridge has CCTV, lighting services and is providing the same functionality as the old one. We will then simply shut the old one and lift it out in bits.” 


Dudgdale told RTM that all three stages – station relocation, resignalling and structures clearance – are all meshed together with dependencies on each other. And, despite the deferrals, he is confident the project will be delivered on time. He is also proud of the extensive consultation and communication with the local community to keep them up-to-date with the various phases of the work and road closures. He added that many of the drop-in sessions and events have been “oversubscribed” but there is support for the overall aims of the project.

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