As part of the multi-million pound programme to introduce 12-car trains to the railway network in Kent, Gravesend station will be completely remodelled. The current track layout, which has two roads for non-stop running through the middle of the station with Up and Down loops serving the two platforms, will be revised. A new single-faced central platform will serve London- bound trains while the two existing platforms will be extended.

Heavily revised

The station facilities will also be ungraded under the Access for All (AfA) scheme through the installation of a new footbridge and lifts to all platforms. There will also be enlarged ticket halls, more retail opportunities, a new passenger information system and other improvements. When complete the station will have been transformed from a four-line (two up and two down) to a three line – one up and one down line with a turn-back facility. Most of this work, which is being undertaken by Spencer Rail, will occur during a 15-day blockade over Christmas and New Year. However, Spencer has been on site since May this year as there was a large amount of enabling and preparatory work to be done.

Not least of this was the signalling commissioning at Northfleet. An integral pre-blockade element of the programme, the Northfleet Turnback commissioning was completed early in October. The next step will be the installation of the new footbridge and the removal of the existing one – two key elements of the project which have been removed from the blockade in a bid to de-risk the scheme.

Also appearing at Ipswich

As if Northfleet and Gravesend weren’t keeping the Spencer Rail team busy enough, the company is also hard at work installing the Ipswich chord. A recent 27 hour possession saw activity across many disciplines.

Signalling and E&P work included the replacement of a signalling power distribution board, the commissioning of new signalling power REB, the commissioning of 11 new functional supply points, alterations to 14 signalling location cases and the installation of 47 new sproughton-bridge-move-16 [online]signalbox panel tiles – which have been wired ready for later commissioning.

The teams also installed two new wire runs of 340 metres each and section-proved the two new sections which stretched over 12 new structures installed previously.

New bridges

Two bridges were also successfully installed within the possession. Sproughton Road Bridge, an over road bridge, was constructed out of place in one of our compounds. The completed 363-tonne bridge was driven down the public highway using an SPMT (self-propelled modular transporter) to its final location and lowered into place. Part way through the move the bridge had to be landed on temporary stools to allow the SPMT to re-orientate itself due to its size.

Road mobile cranes were used to lift out the old crash protection beam (CPB) after being cut from its supports using a diamond wire rope saw and installing the new CPB.

At 26 metres, Bridge 404 was slightly longer but was directly installed in sections of two 55 tonne plate girders and 19 smaller cross girders using a 750 tonne mobile crane. The bridge was installed alongside the current infrastructure and will be slid into place closer to Christmas.

Waterworks as well

While the work at Ipswich was progressing, the Environmental Agency needed a redundant sluice gate to be removed which is in close proximity to the operational railway. Spencer’s demolition contractor used a 250 tonne crane to do this additional work.

After the main bridge installation, Spencer’s project manager Tony Perrin said: “Everyone on the project performed exceptionally well and I think we can all be proud of the work we completed. There were a few spanners thrown our way but we’d worked hard in the planning to give us contingencies – that paid dividends. It’s always a good feeling when a bridge fits, despite the planning we do beforehand.”

It looks as though the Spencer rail team is going to be busy at Christmas this year.