£70 million of taxpayers money has been saved, thanks to an innovative approach to building railway flyovers as part of the East West Rail project.
The project sees Network Rail and the East West Rail Alliance work together to restore the Oxford-to-Cambridge line, part of which involves the removal and replacement of a 1960’s flyover that crosses the busy West Coast mainline between Bicester and Bletchley.
Replacing the flyover with a similar structure to the existing one would mean closing the West Coast mainline that runs beneath to enable the construction of five supporting columns between the tracks.
The inventive East West Rail project engineers have instead utilised modern approaches to construction and have created a protective ‘box structure’ which will last 120 years and require minimal future maintenance.
The ‘box structure’ acts like a rectangular railway tunnel and dispenses with the need for separate supporting columns whilst providing a platform for the flyover to sit upon.
As the West Coast mainline is one of the busiest mixed-use railway routes in Europe, a major positive for the ‘box structure’ is that it will not have to close the rail line during the flyover replacement due to it providing a protective, physical barrier.
This is a major benefit for the project as it will keep passenger trains and freight trains safely on the move whilst keeping the workforce safe whilst working above.
Key figures from this amazing construction technique will see:
- £70m saved by reducing the need to close the railway
- Modern methods of construction speed up the project by six months
- 70% of components arrived pre-built and were simply assembled on site
- The ease of construction meant the onsite workforce could be reduced by 60%
- The New flyover will last 120 years compared to the previous one which lasted just 60 years
- Over the coming months, the track will start to be laid over the new structure.
Mark Cuzner, East West Rail Alliance project director, said:
“By working smarter we’ve been able to speed-up the project by around six months. At the start of the project, we built a protective wall next to the West Coast main line so we could safely build the box structure during the day when the railway is open, instead of working piecemeal at night-time when the railway is closed.
“Most of the components for both the box structure, and the flyover, arrived pre-built and were simply assembled on site, like a model kit or set of Duplo bricks. The simplicity of construction meant we could safely reduce the workforce onsite by 60%, cut the previously-forecast cost by £70m and get the job done six months quicker than planned.”
Simon Blanchflower CBE, East West Rail Company chief executive officer, said:
“The transformation of the iconic Bletchley flyover has really brought the East West Rail project to life and brings communities from Oxford to Cambridge ever closer to a new, sustainable transport link across the region”