Five days of strong winds probably did not give the best start to the Network Rail’s works on the Great Western main line at Christmas 2015. As described by Carillion’s Operations Director, Colin Weallans, there were significant elements of work on several sites that depended upon the use of heavy cranes, where wind speeds were crucial, and most of these works suffered some delays as a result.

All credit must therefore be given to the teams from Network Rail, Carillion, London Underground, Amey, Taylor Woodrow (Vinci) and Morgan Sindall, as well as their subcontractors, who contrived to ensure that this did not prevent completion, on time, of the planned works between Paddington and Stockley.

Within this 12 mile long site, a huge quantity of work was carried out successfully. As an indication of the scale of these works, consider the number of Entry into Service (EiS) documents processed. An EiS would be something like a master signalling test certificate, an OLE Form E, a track configuration certificate or a Form 005 for civils works.

This year’s works in this area required the completion and registration of 89 EiSs. By comparison, at Easter 2014, only 21 of these documents were dealt with, and at Christmas 2014 only 41 were required. Clearly a huge quantity of work was involved this time. Carillion mobilised directors, staff and operatives from across the country to enable assurance of delivery.

The success of this Christmas’ work was such that the only planned works not completed were an under track crossing (UTX) at Southall, not a critical item, and only 41 out of the 56 planned lifts of robust kerb units for the new flyover at Stockley were installed, due to the winds. 15 of these kerbs will thus need to be installed at a later date. When one considers the scope and scale of the works that were completed, these are minor matters.

Moving west

So, what were the works? Starting logically at Paddington station, Network Rail and its suppliers worked collaboratively with London Underground on platforms 14 and 15 to reballast the track in each platform, the first such collaboration between the two infrastructure owners (see page 52 for more detail). Network Rail’s works also saw its platform extended, raised and realigned for the arrival of the IEP trains, due to begin using the station in the near future. Associated plain line and S&C renewals were also undertaken.

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At Old Oak Common, five new points went in, which allowed the route over the E&C line into the depot to be rationalised. However, this involved the creation of several new electrical OLE sections and wire runs to be installed in a completely different footprint. Intense liaison with the TOCs helped facilitate this critical operation by allowing additional possessions between the morning and evening peaks. In addition, three OLE headspan structures were converted to portals.

Next along the line, Acton West was remodelled. To achieve this, existing concrete bearers had to be cut using specialist diamond tipped blades to allow their removal in a fixed sequence. A 166 metre NR60 G33.5 crossover and two S&C turnouts were laid in and the existing plain line slewed over a 300 metre length to meet new track alignment positions. All the detailed OLE changes on the Relief and Popular lines were carried out by Carillion’s in house OLE team.

Further OLE works to support Vinci in its works at Southall removing a footbridge, were undertaken with wire transfers from the existing structure, together with Platform 4 narrowing works and signalling.

Furthest west, at Stockley, key works were undertaken on the ramp and flyover at Airport Junction, and 2 UTXs were installed, together with a 400 metre relay and slew on the single line Down Airport. The work on the flyover entailed the use of a 750 tonne crane to lift in ‘robust kerb units’ to their trackside locations, work that was delayed and rescheduled as a result of the high winds already mentioned. These units are vital since they will provide derailment containment when the flyover is in operation. One set of points at Hayes and Harlington was commissioned, including headspan transfers.

The bulk of the work was completed in the four day all line block, however West Ealing remodelling only started on completion of those works. This scope involved installation of two curved turnouts providing revised access to the Greenford lines together with a new bay platform on the north side of the station.


The signalling workload was huge, affecting 73 locations according to Colin Weallans. The works involved 102 track circuits, 29 point ends, 61 signals and many other signalling assets. This signalling workload was half the size of the entire 14 mile Stage H resignalling scheme at Easter last year, making it a significant resignalling project in its own right.

At the stations, 100 metres of Hayes and Harlington Platform 4 and 5 were cut back and reinstated. Platform 4 at Southall was extended by 112 metres, and the main span and supports of the footbridge were removed. An escape footbridge was partially completed, as planned, at Ealing Broadway (see page 42) with the installation of the supports and span for the Relief Lines section and the execution of some associated sheet piling work.

In all, some 10 S&C units were installed, nearly 15,000 metres of overhead wires were run, almost 6,500 tonnes of track ballast was put down and nearly 1,400 metres of plain track laid. Significant platform, OLE, signalling and structures works were completed to plan and on time.

Carillion was responsible for the integration of the many and varied works between Paddington and Stockley, including the management, with Network Rail, of 54 engineering trains and the variety of on-track plant required to move during the work.

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Collaboration the key

Colin gave particular credit to the way in which all parties collaborated and cooperated throughout. “I don’t think I ever heard the words ‘them’ or ‘us’ during the works,” he said. “Signallers, PICOPs and ES teams all worked brilliantly together and the Integrated Work Plan (IWP) was a great success.”

Although something like 275,000 man- hours were worked with no lost-time incidents, there were some health and safety- related incidents. These concerned members of the public, however, and sadly included a body found on the line at Ladbroke Grove (apparently the result of a shooting) and a non-fatal train strike at Hayes and Harlington station.

Multiple trespass incidents occurred too. Colin said he was very impressed by the caring and professional attitudes of Network Rail, Carillion and Vinci team members when dealing with these incidents.

Mark Carne and Francis Paonessa visited the works on Christmas Day. Both were very impressed, and Francis apparently said that the Stockley site was the best he had seen since he joined Network Rail! Finally, the ORR visited Maidenhead, Stockley and Paddington during the works and raised only minor observations. This must be seen as a success in its own right.

Colin expressed particular pride in the teams at Old Oak Common and Paddington. At the former, the teams of Network Rail, Carillion, Amey and Signalling Solutions Limited (SSL) worked hard and collaborated excellently, both in the weeks beforehand and during the Christmas works. All planned work was completed on time and with no operational impact, and a real team spirit could be seen.

At Paddington, London Underground, Carillion, Amey, Morgan Sindall and several Network Rail teams were all involved in the complex works. The collaborative working on platforms 14 and 15 between Network Rail and LU was a first, was a great success and is likely to be repeated. It allowed significant efficiency gains by the execution of the works of both parties under the same possession and with other resource-sharing benefits.

Photos: Colin Whyman.