1stinrail nears completion of track removal and new track installation at Stadler Nexus depot

UK railway engineering, track maintenance, repair, renewal and installation company 1stinrail is nearing completion of a VolkerFitzpatrick project: the £70 million redevelopment of the Stadler Nexus depot at Gosforth in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Posted 7 months ago in: Depots and Sidings

1stinrail Managing Director Stephen Jackson said the project involved the complete overhaul of the existing depot, with the existing 1920s sheds being demolished for new ultra-modern train maintenance facilities. It will accommodate new state-of-the-art trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Stephen said: “1stinrail has been engaged to remove and dispose of all existing track and supply and install the new track layout. Our work began in June last year and we will complete 46 weeks of on-site working during November this year. 1stinrail’s work has been from bottom ballast up, including a combination of ballasted plain line and switches and crossings on concrete sleepers and bearers. It includes the installation of sections of gauge-widened track on timber sleepers, track on pedestals within the maintenance building and direct fixed track to concrete slabs in wash slabs/cleaning facilities and inspection pits.

“Our work since June 2022 has been carried out while the depot remained open, and this was the case for the duration of the works. Phases were scheduled to ensure that access for trains and essential maintenance and servicing was still possible for Stadler, the depot operator.”

Stephen said the majority of the work was undertaken during normal midweek working daytime hours, with specific elements (namely the tie-in work at each end of the depot entrance and exit points), being carried out during blockades, when work was programmed around the clock and integrated carefully with other key subcontractors to ensure all disciplines were effectively and efficiently provided for. All earthworks, track installation, signalling and overhead line equipment was installed, completed and handed back in time to guarantee that the depot re-opened on time to continue providing a serviced fleet of vehicles onto the Nexus network.

He said the project design was provided by VolkerFitzpatrick with 1stinrail’s input and 1stinrail was responsible for the setting out (ensuring the position of the track reflected design parameters both vertically and horizontally during the construction phase), track removal, disposal, installation, tamping and, where required, signalling. The new track includes plain line ballasted track on concrete sleepers – 2600 m; Gauge-widened track on timber sleepers – 720 m; standard turnout units on concrete bearers – 16; tandem turnout units on concrete bearers – 2; track within sheds on pedestals – 310 m: track within sheds on pit walls – 70 m and embedded track – 130 m. Overall, a total of approximately 13,500 tonnes was supplied and delivered to the site for these works. In addition, Stephen said 1stinrail removed approximately 3250 metres of track and 25 units of switches and crossings weighing around 400 tonnes. He said: “The specification for the works was the provision of new rails and wooden sleepers but to reuse serviceable concrete sleepers. There weren’t many serviceable concrete sleepers in the existing track (it being mainly constructed using wooden sleepers); however, where possible, we did retain and reuse some serviceable concrete sleepers.

“One of the aspects of working on the railways that we have always taken pride in is that of reusing materials where possible, so we sifted and sorted those materials that were removed from the site and stockpiled those rails, sleepers and timber bearers that were removed, to identify the reusable ones for use on future projects for clients, so we can offer a sustainable and value-for-money solution to their requirements.”

Stephen said that the challenges the 1stinrail team had to overcome included that of access to a congested, operational site. “We successfully planned our logistics and overcame restrictions in terms of both the size of load, the available storage space and the general site access for vehicles, including a tight turning radius, narrow access roads into the site and restricted access times owing to local schools located near the depot entrance. With 18.288-m-long rails delivered to the site requiring articulated lorries that are 25% longer than a standard road vehicle, this meant that all site deliveries had to be carefully coordinated, planned, agreed and delivered only when needed in a ‘just in time’ manner.”

He added that 1stinrail used its tried and tested methods of track construction, which included rubber tyred telescopic forklifts, dumpers and tracked excavators operated by 1stinrail multiskilled personnel, for the majority of the installation works, to ensure a cost-effective engineering method was utilised for the works.

VolkerFitzpatrick Project Manager Clinton Smith said the company was proud to be completing the development of a world-class depot, which would be home to the new Tyne and Wear Metro train fleet, consisting of 46 new trains for the Nexus network.

Clinton said: “The complexities of this type of project were many and varied, not least as a result of the need for the works to be programmed around the planned day-to-day operations of the depot, providing servicing and stabling facilities for the Metro system, while the construction works were taking place. The success of this project relied not only upon careful coordination, planning and management of all of the multidisciplined subcontract delivery team but also the commitment, capabilities, expertise and collaboration provided by those subcontractors in working as a group to ensure the success of this large-scale project.”

Clinton said that that VolkerFitzpatrick had not previously worked with 1stinrail on this size and scale of project and working with a new contractor did require an extra level of scrutiny at the start of a project. Clinton added: “However, having worked with the 1stinrail team for the past 17 months, I am pleased that we have developed a close working relationship with both the management and on-site delivery teams. Their drive for continuous improvement, quality of finished product and collaboration in ensuring the overall success of the programme has been very much appreciated and we look forward to the next opportunity to work together.”