Published: 8th June 2014
Passengers on the Great West Main Line (GWML) near Heathrow will have noticed a considerable amount of construction over the last 18 months and this reached a crucial stage at the end of May. A 120 metre long steel flyover weighing 1000 tonnes was installed over the GWML as part of Crossrail project. It is the largest single span rail bridge to have been installed anywhere to the west of London since Brunel was building railways.
Crossrail will not only enable passengers to travel from Reading to Essex through London without changing trains, but at the same time relieve the London Underground system as Thameslink has done on a north-south axis. It will become considerably easier and faster to travel between Heathrow and London’s main commercial and financial districts such as the West End, the City and Canary Wharf once the project is complete.
The new flyover is a significant part of the project to ensure that the existing railway is ready for Crossrail trains to serve Heathrow without delaying other services by crossing other tracks. The flyover, at Stockley near Heathrow, will ensure that Crossrail and Heathrow Express services heading towards central London and beyond will be able to join the Great Western Main Line without delaying, or being delayed by other trains on the line.
Two lifting jacks launched the bridge with a force equivalent to that needed to lift 115 London taxis and 20 moveable wheels and special Teflon sheets were also used to help the bridge launch. In five years time, Crossrail will be fully operational linking Heathrow with London’s West End, the City and Canary Wharf with direct fast trains. For example, Heathrow to Bond Street will take just 26 minutes and Canary Wharf will be reached in 40 minutes.
Matthew White, Surface Director at Crossrail said: “Launching a thousand tonne bridge over the Great Western Main Line is quite a feat of engineering and one that I’m sure would have made Brunel proud.
“The new flyover at Stockley is an essential part of our works in west London, ensuring that the network has enough capacity to run frequent services to and from Heathrow. Crossrail will significantly improve transport links to the airport, bringing the West End, the City and Canary Wharf closer than ever before.”
Rob McIntosh, Crossrail Programme Director, Network Rail said: “We used innovative methods as this was a complex and difficult operation. The system of sliding the bridge over the railway line allowed for controlled and safe installation with minimal interruption of rail services. That said, it took a lot of preparation ahead of time, and we monitored progress very carefully.”
Crossrail services will be introduced gradually starting between Paddington and Heathrow in 2018 and a year later, they will serve the centre of London with direct services.
Hitachi Rail Europe is constructing hundreds of new trains for use on the Great West and East Coast main lines and they are building a factory near Darlington to construct them. The first steelwork was erected at their Newton Aycliffe base on May 29th. This Hitachi Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility, as it is known, is costing £82 million to construct and work commenced in November 2013 and should be completed by mid-2015.
Shepherd, the lead contractors on the factory construction scheme, announced that it will have up to 400 workers on the site when construction peaks. The factory will cover 43,000 square metres, more than six football pitches and use over 2,000 tonnes of steel.
This facility will become Hitachi Rail’s primary European facility for train manufacturing and assembly. This is where the Great Western and East Coast Main Line trains being built for the Government’s Intercity Express Programme (IEP) are being constructed.
Keith Jordan, Managing Director of Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “Today’s celebration is a reflection of all the hard work that has been undertaken by Merchant Place Developments, Shepherd and the many suppliers on the construction process over the past six months. This factory will be the hub for Hitachi Rail Europe’s manufacturing operations in the UK and Europe and it’s important that we continue to work effectively with our contractors to ensure a state-of-the-art facility is produced.”
Geoff Hunton Merchant Place Developments of Merchant Place Development, said: “With construction at a landmark stage, we reflect that it has been 6 years since the investors put in their original monies – a long time ago – but a sign we hope that with the continued hard work of the construction and development teams this building will be identified in the future with the long term success of not just Hitachi Rail but also the region as a whole.”
“This development has provided a welcome boost to the region’s economy, harnessing expertise from across the North East and providing hundreds of local jobs throughout the supply chain.
“Thanks to the collaborative and integrated approach established on the project, progress made on site to date has been excellent. We are looking forward to the next 12 months which will see our multidisciplinary, in-house teams of engineering and construction specialists help transform this site into an exceptional world-class technical facility.”