Transport Infrastructure Specialists

Case Study: Bridgwater Alleviation Flood Repairs Scheme

Time-Critical Flood Repairs

The heavy and persistent rain and subsequent floods that affected much of the UK in the winter and early spring of 2014 caused devastation to the rail network. The Somerset Levels was an area particularly badly hit by storm damage and flooding, resulting in closure of the rail line at the Fordgate section of track, located between Taunton and Bridgwater.

The affected track was on the same MLN 1 mainline from London to the South West as the high profile section of track that was swept away with part of the sea wall at Dawlish. To ensure that services were returned to normal as quickly as possible, Network Rail brought in Amey Rail and Consulting Limited to carry out the necessary repairs to the signalling equipment on both sections of the network.

“It was essential that the Fordgate repairs were finished in time to coincide with the completion of works at Dawlish,“ explains Dean Howland, construction manager at Amey, “so that the whole line could return to normal working’’

“To do that we needed to get the right people with the required level of specialist skills to site quickly and, having successfully worked with MECX Ltd on time critical projects in the past, we enlisted the company’s help to provide the resources required for the minor civils element of the Fordgate scheme.”

Short Notice

The track itself at Fordgate was not damaged but, having been under six feet of water when the floods were at their height, it was covered in silt and debris. Much worse was the damage to the electrical and signalling infrastructure.

Dean continues: “The main power supply at Durston is a 650v feed and both this and the signalling power was out, with all equipment cases flooded, overturned and displaced. The site needed to be cleared and all the power and signalling infrastructure needed to be replaced within a time-critical window and to the highest safety standards with a revised layout to provide additional flood resilience in the future.”

With just half a day’s notice, MECX Ltd provided the skilled and experienced teams and safety critical staff needed to deliver the civils requirements, including engineering supervisors, machine operators and machine controllers. The brief for MECX involved moving and replacing the signalling equipment and running and putting away new line side cables, as well as clearing the silt and debris and building up temporary ground areas in preparation for reinstatement of the electrical housings.

With just 10 days to deliver the required works, MECX Ltd put in place three teams, totalling a workforce of 15 people, with two teams operating during the day and the third continuing the programme during the night.

The teams arrived on site on Tuesday 1st April and completed the work on Friday 11th April, fitting in with Amey’s exacting schedule.

Dean adds: “MECX’s contribution was significant in getting this job over the line. There was a lot of pressure and focus on us during these works due to the importance of this section of line and every member of staff from MECX who came to work with us was professional and helped to ensure on time delivery of the scheme.”

Planning for the Future

With phase one of the project to complete the initial emergency repairs to the infrastructure and re-open the line now completed, Amey will begin phase two in June with final restoration of the line due for completion in August 2014. MECX will also be involved in delivering the phase two scheme which, once delivered, will ensure that the electrical and signalling infrastructure is less vulnerable to flood damage next winter.