Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain.
Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain. Network Rail prides itself as Europe’s fastest growing railway and aims to provide a safe and reliable experience for the millions of passengers it serves.
We were appointed to convert Network Rail’s Blackheath Track Paralleling Hut (TPH) in South East London to a 33kV railway traction substation. This project was part of a larger programme to enhance the electrification infrastructure in the North and mid Kent lines to support the running of 12 car trains on the North and mid Kent lines rather than the existing 10 car formations. In addition, the client wanted to:
- Minimise the disruption of noise, ground vibrations and traffic to local residents and local borough council during the 11-month construction phase
- Ensure environmental and arboriculture impact is minimised
- Minimise disruption to the operational railway
Approach and innovation
The project specification required the building of the substation in a space constrained and rail locked site at a junction between the Bexleyheath and North Kent lines in South East London. The expansion works would severely impact the operational railway during construction.
After considering the project requirements and site constraints in detail an alternative solution was developed.
We demonstrated innovation in our approach. By challenging the specification and employing creative problem solving, we were able to provide an improved solution for the substation at an alternative location at Blackheath.
The solution we proposed was able to avoid significant disruption to railway operations on two busy commuter routes for many months during construction as well as providing a safer construction site location and safer substation location for maintenance and project staff in the future.
The benefits and innovation realised by the Blackheath Substation project were:
- A new high quality 33kV modular substation as part of the larger programme of electrification enhancement programme required to enable the running of 12 car trains on the North and mid Kent lines rather than the existing 10 car formations.
- The avoidance of major operational disruption on the Bexleyheath and North Kent lines – two busy London commuter routes for over 11 months during the construction phase of the project. The Blackheath access planning also took into account the proximity of the major programmes of work at Thameslink and London Bridge ensuring no disruption to these works or to the travelling public.
- An optimally sited traction substation with 35-year minimum service life located within a bespoke retaining wall structure of 60 year design life which can be accessed safely by road for future maintenance and project staff.
- Excellent safety culture which can be replicated and built upon on future projects.
- Minimised environmental and arboriculture impact to the site. For each tree removed as a result of the Blackheath project, two replacement trees will be planted; optimally selected to enhance the arboriculture of the local area.
- Established good relations with neighbouring residents to the new substation benefiting future maintenance and project staff visiting this location.