network rail

Network Rail: 'Spider' excavators used in £5m protection project

Preventative work to protect the West Coast main line from landslips has just been completed by Network Rail.

The £5m investment involved moving thousands of tonnes of earth to secure 1.3km of the railway south of Penkridge.

The embankments and cuttings are situated on one of the most significant railway corridors in the country, alongside a branch of the West Coast main line.

In order to make the large stretches of sloped lineside more stable, they had to be re-profiled with new stone, on top of reducing slope gradients.

Andrew Walker, Project Manager at Network Rail, said “this major project will allow us to deliver more reliable journeys for millions of rail passengers and freight goods in future.”

Network Rail

"We want to make sure the railway network is in the best shape as winter approaches."

He continued, “even though passengers won’t interact directly with the areas improved, it’s their journeys that feel the impact when movements underground pose a risk to the railway above.”

The Project Manager added, “we want to make sure the railway network is in the best shape as winter approaches for the increasing number of passengers returning to rail travel following the pandemic.” 

Whether it be animals burrowing underground, sustained periods of wet weather or the unique geology on which the railway is built, there exists a number of reasons as to why landslips may occur.

Throughout the protection project, over 11,000 tonnes of earth was removed and 19,000 tonnes of new stone was laid.

Due to the steep locations, specialist ‘spider’ excavators were used to carry out the work.

Network Rail

Netting was also installed along the 170m slope between Wolverhampton and Stafford in order to prevent burrowing rabbits destabilising the embankments and cuttings.

Lawrence Bowman, Customer Experience Director for London Northwestern Railway, said “our services on the West Coast main line provide millions of passenger journeys every year and these important works will significantly reduce the likelihood of unnecessary delays.”

He added, “this project is another great example of the rail industry doing all we can to ensure smooth journeys for passengers as increasing numbers of people continue returning to the railway.” 

RTM Mag Cover, Feb/March 23


Investing in the future of Scotland's rainforest

This issue highlights the latest topics within the rail industry, from decarbonising the Midlands, improving rail safety, meeting the future priorities of Scotland's Railway & more!                                                      


View all videos
TransCityRail Banner


South \ 28 09 23
North \ 09 11 23
Mids \ 29 02 24

TransCityRail is a series of regional, interactive and insightful events across the country bringing together leaders, collaborators, problem solvers and innovators in a creative and invigorating way.

This series of events supports and informs the whole of the rail industry and connects suppliers with buyers, specifiers, leaders and decision-makers looking to procure a wide variety of innovative products and services for their region.


Episode 37 - What does the future of transport look like

This episode of Track Talk sees a discussion with Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South Iain Stewart, Chair of the Transport Committee. The focus of this episode revolves around disruptive technologies within the rail sector, specifically the impact that the new, innovative advancements and trends might have across all modes of transport. The Transport Committee are taking proposals from people in the sector who are in the know about innovations that deserve more attention, so we have given them the platform to discuss the process and hear what the committee is looking for. 

More articles...

View all