Different Approaches To Working In Live Rail Environments

The need to work in live environments is one of the biggest challenges for modern infrastructure contractors. On the rail network, the ability to manage live environments ensures that line closures and restrictions are kept to a minimum, even when complex upgrade or maintenance works are carried out.

With careful design and planning, and by putting minimal disruption at the top of the priority list, it’s often possible to keep lines and stations open and drastically reduce the disruption suffered by rail users.

Osborne Infrastructure has completed numerous Access For All and platform extension projects while stations remained in service. Careful planning identifies which operations can be safely performed with minimal rerouting of passengers within the station, and which need to be performed offsite or during tightly controlled possessions.

Offsite Where Possible

Sometimes the best way to manage live environments is to limit the number of operations carried out onsite.

For example, Stagecoach South West Trains had to deliver three AfA footbridge and lift projects within tight time scales and budgets. Upgrades at Alton, Aldershot and Wokingham Stations had to be designed, constructed and operational within 12 months.

Each station required a new footbridge, lifts, access stairs, associated M&E, platform and demolition works. Alton Station also served the Watercress Steam Heritage Line and Treloar School and College which caters for students with disabilities.

The project was planned so that much of the demolition, electrical works, re-surfacing, drainage, canopy adjustments and platform could be carried out during normal daytime hours. As much of the work as possible was completed offsite so that installation could be carried out efficiently overnight and at weekends.

Future Maintenance

Appreciation of the complexities of working in live environments also helps to re-evaluate project plans to minimise the need for future disruption to the network.

By questioning design assumptions it’s often possible to change the location of power cables, hot-splice joints, drainage and anything else where access will be needed for future maintenance. This approach can often eliminate the need for UTXs and ensure that access points for maintenance are routed away from the track.

These approaches simplify maintenance and eliminate the need for future disruptive closures. Often, they also remove time, cost and disruption from the initial project by applying value engineering principles.

To learn more about Osborne Infrastructure’s integrated approach to working in live infrastructure environments visit our transport infrastructure resource centre or contact Mike Todd (mike.todd@osborne.co.uk).