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New £17m contract awarded to upgrade Glasgow Subway

A £17m contract to upgrade the Glasgow Subway tunnel lining is expected to be handed to Telford-based Freyssinet Ltd today.

The Operations Committee of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) will be advised to grant the contract to the company, asking it to carry out "a programme of targeted and prioritised tunnel lining works including water sealing, void filling, lining repairs and trackbed repair".

The contract is the largest single award to date as part of the £300m Subway modernisation project. The work will commence in the new year, pending contractual approval, and is expected to last two to three years.

The bulk of repairs will be undertaken in tunnels running from Hillhead station in the west end to Buchanan Street station in the city centre, a stretch which also incorporates Kelvinbridge, St George's Cross and Cowcaddens stations.

Another high priority is a section of tunnels in the southside of Glasgow between Shields Road and Kinning Park.

A spokeswoman for SPT, which owns and manage the Subway, said it would "aim to keep disruption to a minimum" as with other stages of the modernisation programme, but could not rule some impact on passenger services. The majority of repairs are expected to be carried out during hours when the Subway is not running.

The tendering report stresses that the operator had chosen to avoid a full-scale shutdown.

It stated: "Whilst it is expected that the remedial works will provide improved integrity and risk reduction, the works do not represent a full watersealing and re-lining of the entire tunnel. Such works would require significant reconstruction of the entire lining with major closures of the system and was not considered a viable option."

The report goes on to state that the preferred contractor, Freyssinet Ltd, "was able to demonstrate that they have considerable experience of undertaking works of this nature" and that their £16.8m bid was the "most economically advantageous" ahead of costlier submissions by Balfour Beatty and BAM Ritchies.

SPT Chief Executive Gordon Maclennan said: "This is a significant investment to ensure the Subway tunnels remain robust for the future. The spend reflects the huge logistics involved in this intricate work within the unique size, shape and composition of the Victorian tunnels themselves.

"There will be challenges for SPT delivering the work within the limited time available when trains are not running at night but the improvements are an essential part of our preparations for new modern trains and new signalling.

"The work will strengthen further the existing tunnel lining, reduce water ingress and importantly, cut down on long term maintenance costs."

A Scottish government spokesman said: “The 118-year-old tunnels are being relined as part of SPT’s overall programme to modernise the Glasgow Subway, being funded by up to £246m of Scottish Government grant funding.

“This contract award is welcome progress in the scheme, which will result in a more modern, comfortable and reliable underground railway system for the city.”

(Image: c. calflier001)

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