The Thameslink Programme is a £7 billion project in south-east England to upgrade and expand the Thameslink rail network, allowing more people to travel on new and longer trains between a wider range of stations to the north and to the south of London, without requiring passengers to change trains in London. Work includes platform lengthening, station remodelling, new railway infrastructure, and additional rolling stock, thus providing a significant increase in railway capacity through Central London.
A major component the Thameslink Programme involved the redevelopment and reconfiguration of London Bridge station with significant changes to the western and eastern approaches to London Bridge station. This case study deals with the Western Approach structures; the eastern approach and main station structures are covered by a second CEEQUAL submission referred to as ‘Main Station’ works.
The redevelopment of London Bridge Station comprises a comprehensive upgrade of station facilities in conjunction with increased capacity via more frequent and longer 12 car trains. These upgrades required provision of additional ‘through lines’ by means of continuing tracks which currently terminate at the station and complete replacement of the station superstructure. Travelling west out of London Bridge Station the new continuing tracks traverse three key structures, Station Approach Viaduct Extension (SAVEx West), Western Approach Viaduct (WAV Spans 3 to 5) and Railway Approach Viaduct (RAV) and collectively are known as the ‘Western Structures’.
The ‘Western Structures’ were cast in-situ and are designed to link the existing network with the new and was probably the most challenging aspect of the project. Partly because it impacted on London Underground, the bus station and the railway activities, but also because of the restricted site access, loading restrictions and adjacent structures.
To what extent did the use of CEEQUAL influence your project?
Sustainability was right at the heart of the Thameslink Programme and our vision was to deliver transport benefits to budget that represented value for money and created an overall positive impact on the community and the environment. To do this we worked to ensure that not only did we achieve the highest standards in sustainability, but we upheld this principle on all fronts. As part of this vision we committed to use CEEQUAL to help us strike a balance to achieve high standards of environmental and social benefits whilst achieving value for money.
Two CEEQUAL assessments were thus applied as part of the London Bridge Station Redevelopment Project to drive sustainable choices in design and construction and both saw resounding success. Aside from being an awards scheme we recognised the value of CEEQUAL in improving sustainability performance by supporting both our sustainable development policy and Network Rails wider sustainability commitments.
At the start of the design stage we held CEEQUAL workshops with our project teams, designers and suppliers to challenge the design and construction process and to identify sustainable design and construction solutions. At the workshops, sustainability objectives and targets were agreed and sustainability champions identified to review progress of targets through the design process. Then we also worked with cost consultants to explore in more detail the whole life cost impacts of sustainable design decisions.
CEEQUAL helped to improve sustainability performance and provided a wide range of benefits including;
- Significant improvements through adoption of best practice including whole-life costing, waste minimisation, resource efficiency (materials, water, energy), responses to predicted climate change effects, as well as project management and reduction of complaints and environmental incidents.
- Reputation-building and good PR including verified demonstration of delivery of environmental, sustainability and corporate social responsibility policies.
- Cost savings through CEEQUAL’s influencing role.
- Demonstrating commitment to the sustainability agenda, and providing public recognition of our work to clients, to the industry as a whole, and/or to stakeholders and the general public.
- Enhanced team spirit through CEEQUAL’s recognition of teams and, because using CEEQUAL provides encouragement and a target for your project and contract team to deliver high performance, it helps to develop a positive performance attitude.
- Award presentations celebrating high performance and reinforcing team spirit.
Challenges Faced and Achievements
The completion of the London Bridge Station redevelopment is the culmination of six years of major redevelopment including wholesale complex multi-staged infrastructure re-alignment and the complete station rebuild of London Bridge, and is an exemplar of what you can achieve on a major infrastructure programme. It provided a holistic approach to all aspects of the project, placing sustainability at its very heart and will leave a legacy for the capital as well as providing a blueprint for delivery of major complex projects.
The success of the ambitious redevelopment programme, which ran to schedule, was down to a complex staging process. This involved demolishing the old platforms and the arches below and then progressively reconfiguring the tracks to construct the new station in nine stages, each stage having to come into service before the next stage could commence.
Testament to the project’s success was the successful integration of another major piece of work on the three, usually separate project areas, around London Bridge station. These were the packages of work that were led by Network Rail, mainly the station development itself (with Costain), associated track work (Balfour Beatty) and signalling and telecommunications (Siemens Rail Automation). There were no direct contractual links between the three parties, but the London Bridge Area Partnership (LBAP), a collaborative relationship established using BS11000, was established in 2012 between them. The intent of the LBAP arrangement from the outset was to ensure that interfaces between the parties were effective. These were the technical interfaces through the design development and approval process, programme interfaces so that ‘give/get’ dates could be devised, agreed and achieved, and the coordination and control of safety, health and the environment. In addition, the relationship supported the sharing of best practice and innovation and also risk mitigation. In total more than 200 suppliers were involved in this venture and the relationship and interface management was absolutely critical in ensuring that the project’s success. We applied programme wide sustainability standards across our suppliers and achieved a high level of buy-in from them.
We have delivered a world-class transport interchange and created a grand new street level concourse providing new entrances giving the station a civic scale and a street presence appropriate for its importance, both within Southwark and London. It provides a truly legible layout, allowing the station to feel like a single station for the first time. The rippling, reflective canopy ribbons give a clear identity to the station form. The design is an appropriately bold response to the Shard, creating an ambitious and dynamic piece of twenty-first century architecture, but one which respects the scale and grain of its context.
Community Relations and Engagement Section Challenges
Being on site for several years gave the project a wonderful opportunity to develop long term meaningful relationships with the local community to leave a real lasting legacy. To do this, the project identified and understood the community’s needs from the very outset. The redevelopment took place in an a busy urban environment with many neighbours in an area of high unemployment and in a place that lacked of green spaces – this gave the project clear needs to focus on and these were then structured around three distinct programmes:
- Community engagement
- School and college outreach
- Local supply chain opportunities
To demonstrate its commitment to these the project employed a full time dedicated Community Relations Manager and a Projects Skills Coordinator to lead these and to provide a dedicated interface. Our community engagement agenda was also supported from the very top of the organisation, which set social responsibility as a core value that led a project team who actively sought and engaged with the community at all levels at all times.
Thanks to a well-structured programme and top level commitment and support, the project is proud to report that we;
- Delivered over 150 community engagements, including 29 events with an educational focus and eight events in the local neighbourhood;
- Provided 48 students the opportunity to gain experience in the reality of working life with some very positive feedback, delivering exposure about career opportunities within construction and the rail industry
- Provided training to over 200 unemployed local residents of which 62 went on to be employed by the project;
- Provided 61 apprenticeships;
- Donated nearly £90,000 to a variety of charitable causes;
- Awarded work to 11 SME’s to provide tools, materials and office fit-out for the project for contracts in excess of £6million; and
- Developed a long term relationship with a local school, which provided many opportunities to provide a positive impact via Health, Safety and Environment engagement programmes, reading and maths mentoring, STEM activities, parent workshops and donations of office furniture and gardening equipment.
Strong and consistent leadership around social value, advocating its value and requiring participation, particularly from the Programme Directors, has been the key to our success in delivering a positive social impact to leave a social legacy beyond project completion. Internally, work around social value has developed the skills of our employees and made them feel more engaged and has attracted and retained a greater diversity of talent than most rail projects, which is good for our industry, as it indicates we are drawing from the full pool of talent and helps us to bridge the talent and skills gap facing our sector.
Network Rail are in the midst of delivering the biggest investment in the railway since the Victorian era. All our work from designing and building iconic new stations, signalling upgrades, electrification, track renewals and bridges produces waste and the waste we produce has a significant impact on both our environment, costs to our business and thus value for the tax payer.
A construction and demolition project of this size and scale inevitably presents a range of challenges and opportunities with regards to waste and material management. As part of our sustainability vision, the TLP committed to “reduce waste generated and disposed of on TLP” through “reducing waste during the design process” and “diverting at least 90% of our waste from landfill using the waste hierarchy”.
To this end, at design state a series of Designing Out Waste workshops were held using the WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) Designing out Waste toolkit. The objective of these workshops was to collaboratively challenge the design and construction process to identify where we could reduce waste in design and construction through;
Offsite construction – use of prefabrication. I.e. we used modular and pre-fabricated components forbridge decks, platforms units, lifts, escalators and station furniture and standardised components for station glazing. Modular and pre-fabrication reduces material use and waste, reduces risk of pollution, minimises impacts on our neighbours through quieter construction and less road congestion from deliveries. It also provided a number of economic benefits such as improved product quality, reduced installation programme, reduced materials double handling and improved site logistics.
Reuse and recovery of materials – Re-use of demolition materials. I.e. we crushed inert waste arising’s throughout the demolition works for re-use within the station
Recycling hazardous waste – At London Bridge we recycled aerosols through a specialist Aerosol Piercing Unit enabling aerosol cans to be recycled like any other metal thus diverting waste from landfill.
Recycling plasterboard – At London Bridge we use plasterboard to fit out the station accommodation, which is a difficult material to dispose of as all gypsum based wastes must be disposed of to landfill thus increasing our impacts and costs. By working with our suppliers we were able to return our plasterboard waste products for recycling and reuse into a variety of products that are sold again to construction projects.
Segregating waste –waste segregation is part of standard activities, however as our worksite reduced and space became constrained, we maximised off-site segregation and recycling. We used dedicated off-site storage areas for storage of construction materials supported by just in time deliveries to reduce volume of material held on site. This was supported by returning surplus materials to the storage area for reuse during construction.
Recycling soils – 200,000 tonnes of excavated soils at London Bridge were tested and segregated on site into inert, hazardous, non-hazardous and special non-hazardous waste to prevent mixing of waste and costly waste disposal to landfill. All soils were treated at a soil treatment facility according to their type, for example through soil stabilisation or bioremediation. Treated soils were then transported along the River Thames by barge and incorporated into other land reclamation projects. Each barge carrying 1000 tonnes removed 50 lorries from congested London roads and reduced carbon emissions by 60%.
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