Rail Industry Focus


Successful railway upgrade at Colchester

Source: Rail Technology Magazine June/July 2014

As RTM was going to press, work was finishing on the £7m railway upgrade around Colchester station. Balfour Beatty Rail’s lead project manager Perry Storey outlined progress on the programme.

Upgrade works have been taking place around Colchester station in recent weeks to improve reliability and punctuality.

Network Rail said the works, contracted to Balfour Beatty Rail, were “urgently required”, and they covered plain line track, S&C, overhead line equipment and signalling & telecoms.

Lead project manager for Balfour Beatty Rail Perry Storey, explained that significant prep works started earlier this year (week 42 to 47 of 2013-14), with the installation of four overhead line switches, to facilitate the running of trains into platform 4 over the core weekends.

He said: “This meant we could, effectively, isolate out our separate sites, on the sidings, the up and down goods lines and the main lines. This would allow us to continue our prep works and ultimately allow us to deliver our works with the roads open.”

Over the following 12 weeks, week 47 of 2013-14 to week 7 of 2014-15, works included removing points heating and a headshunt, followed by the installation of nine overhead line mast bases. There was also lots of S&T prep works, including the identification and removal of cable from legacy projects, and removal, repositioning and installation of equipment.

The core works on the Great Eastern Main Line took place every weekend from 17 May to 6 July, beginning with a 52-hour possession which saw the re-laying of points and nine lengths of plain line track between them, on the up goods line.

A second worksite that weekend elsewhere on the line saw 240 yards re-layed, with the works carried out adjacent line open (ALO) as trains used platform 4.

Existing overhead line was re-registered onto the new masts that we’d installed, and redundant masts removed.

The following weekend was the longest possession – a 70-hour window, during which points and plain line were re-layed on a new diamond alignment, and ballast was replenished using Railcare’s Railvac system.

More track was re-layed on the down goods line, and the down main got its follow-up tamp, allowing the speed restriction of 50mph to be lifted.

“That was a big weekend for us!” Storey said.

Week 10, a 52-hour possession, included the re-laying of  240 yards ALO on the down good line, and then follow-up works around the fixed diamond installed the weekend before. Weekend 11 saw more points re-laid and some re-railing. Story said: “We removed the old sleepers and rail and positioned the new switches that were delivered via a 750-tonne crane which came in 12 hours before. We had them offloaded ready to enable the Kirow to pick it up and install it. It was a successful weekend.”

This was followed by a midweek possession with more track re-layed on the goods lines, while the up and down mains were still open.

The next weekend, week 12, was a “effectively a big follow-up weekend”, with adjustment panels installed, welding and stressing, proving of overhead line, and S&T installation. More switch heating was installed, outstanding overhead line switches were removed and follow-up tamps were carried out, before parts of the site began to be demobilised.

It was a similar story the following weekend, except with points in the sidings being commissioned, but also some catch-up work on the up goods line that slipped in week 8 due to logistics issues. “We recovered and completed all the planned works at the end of week 13,” Storey said.

As RTM was going to press, all that was left was final tamps and the walk-out with Network Rail to hand over to it as the maintenance organisation, including site clearance and tidying up.

Storey praised the excellent work of VolkerRail’s signalling team. “They were really collaborative and assisted us in ensuring we got things tested and they were more than helpful in ensuring the project was a success,” he said.

There was also close collaboration with the TOC, Abellio Greater Anglia, whose team at the station were included in all conversations about site access, especially customer service manager Tanya Jacques, and whose opinion was sought on issues like site screening and parking and logistics, ensuring the works caused as little disruption as possible to neighbours and passengers. 

Storey concluded: “The programme had some slippage early on due to logistics issues, but we fully recovered because the project team have collaborated with [Network Rail] at Colchester, who have helped us with material and support and access. It’s been a large conglomerate of people working together that’s pulled this over the line and done such a good job.”

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