The RailStaff Awards 2024

Julia Flook

Said the following about Whitecross Recovery Team:

“Following heavy rainfall and thunderstorms on 12th August across Central Scotland which caused flooding in many places including the Polmont – Bo’ness area. The local maintenance teams found that the Union Canal had been breached causing significant damage on the Edinburgh to Glasgow Main Line,

This resulted in major disruptions to the various operators on that route with the line being closed as impassable with 1.1lkm requiring to be renewed as well as significant other works not least the removal of the damage tracks.

Network Rail sought support from various suppliers including the Rail Systems Alliance Scotland (RSAS), a partnership between Network Rail; Babcock Rail & Arcadis, who are contracted to deliver the next generation of track and rail systems on Scotland’s route, requesting an emergency response to remediate the track asset failures on the infrastructure.

Whilst RSAS are set up for both Domestic and Planned project Work banks they do not have a reactive resource model in place. The work was carried out utilising resources from our current Domestic model putting pressure on the team who were still supporting normal and planned works.

We quickly mobilised our development team of experienced Engineers to drive the Project forward and manage the recovery working closely with our suppliers and Client. The plan was developed within days resulting in a six-week programme being put in place including the setting up of the site and compounds; securing materials; organising trains. It was task of mammoth proportion with many challenges which the team rose to.

The scale of the work in front of the team was incredible given the devastation of the track fully realised once inspected after the flood water was cleared from the tracks. Whole sections of the track had been washed away due to the complete deterioration of the solum not least contamination to the ballast layers which would require to be replaced.

Following repairs to stem the immediate flow of water from the canal, RSAS were able to begin work to recover the suspended track. This was challenging in itself given the other disciplines and suppliers – QTS (Groundwork); SPL working within same area, safety was paramount with a strict exclusion zone put in place.

Early projections were made of at least 2 months closure of the line to allow restoration works to be completed. Given the critical nature of the line and disruption to the passenger it was paramount that a robust and timely plan was developed which would not only deliver on the recovery elements but offer assurance and future proof over km of track.

A fast-tracked entry point assessment was made with a plan quickly realised and key stakeholders and Client interfaces in place. A lean organisation we had to pull on all areas of our business and key functional resources across our Designers, Planners; Procurement; Safety and supply chain partners, stretching them at times beyond normal operational limits.

Through the Development phase we were able to ensure Interfaces and implementation of programme through communication management. Programming and interfaces with other deliverers and site attendees. Agreeing full scope of works across PWay; Civils; S&T; OHL and Design, Network Rail and our suppliers.

At times to secure we could achieve our planned delivery timelines we had to bypass internal process and / or step outside of the natural systems. This created tension and pressure on our support functions although as you will see we worked through these challenges to deliver results.

Due to the haste at which the sites compounds were set up; there were at times challenges around access, boundary lines etc. This was cleared though through collaborative meetings by all relevant parties with staging of works set out to support all activities and smooth operations.

The Alliance were engaged to deliver a Cat 11, 2484yds recovery renewal returning the infrastructure to its proper state following the catastrophic event. As a customer focused track alliance and very much integrated into the route, we were asked by NWR to work with our civil colleagues to rebuild the railway - Building Back Better, from a complete washout situation to re-establishing a running railway as quickly and efficiently as possible. At the same time ensuring that the location would cope with further weather events in an efficient manner.

Very conscious of the weather events throughout the route at this time particularly the tragic events at Stonehaven. We worked with our NWR colleagues to establish the site CDM and quickly worked through all discipline programs and integrated where possible. We measured our plan with thrice daily conference calls determining our collective current position against plans and interface with all deliverers staged milestones. Our program constraints were driven by train services to and from Polmont including accessing our plant materials and trains from one side only. This presented a challenge to keeping a customer train service and supplying the site to keep the program on track. Also, the short-term request for a challenging number of engineering trains (30No) in very short notice.

This site was extremely challenging with environmental and engineering issues (Civil, Track, Signalling, Drainage and Logistics) all fairly complex with civils’ rebuilding of embankments and formation. The track renewal had to be staged in a unique way. This was due to the complex integration with our civils team working to rebuild the embankment at the same time as the track teams renewed the damaged track. With this type of request, you are at the behest of others and their ability to turn around the resources that you need. All of our partners excelled and delivered to our requests which at the timescales requested was very commendable)

Success can be measured in several headings

• Safety - Throughout the duration of all integrated work was excellent with only one incident with train management out with the worksite. To give an example over 25,000 people hrs without an incident or accident on site.

• Programming - Delivering the integrated program to the timescales set by the route taking cognizance of real time issues with deliverers, logistics and internal resources with evolving constrains the program was delivered successfully.

• Collaborative working - The ability of the industry to work together to deliver complex recovery plans. All deliverers working together without the usual barriers that sometimes hampers progress.

• Route industry experts - Within the route we have the skill sets to mobilise and react to events.

Once all scope was understood and settled our developed integrated program was achieved to the route timescales for reopening.

The Rail Systems Alliance Scotland providing another professional and quality delivery. The recovery programme to restore and future proof the track at Whitecross was delivered under exceptional circumstances and time constraints. The RSAS are proud to have been asked to deliver these critical works on one of our busiest and critical lines.

Our strong partnered collaboration with our suppliers enabled us to respond as we did and deliver to plan. From that first call to arms the plan was developed and executed over a 30day possession.

Working round the clock with over 25,000 people hours; 4,500 Machine hours utilising 30 trains, 655 wagons, 8 tampers and 2 AFM / DTS we delivered on renewing

• 615 metres embankment work

• 3km Plain line

• 1175 metres drainage reinstatement

• 1000 metre of new troughing

• 4424 sleepers

• 3.5km stressing

• 10910 tonnes of spoil removed

• 10,248 tonnes ballast installed

• 2 New Location boxes

• 3500m lineside signalling cable

• 8 Track circuits

• 2AWS magnets

• 2 PWS

And most importantly everyone home safe with No accidents throughout this accelerated programme.

Building back better on Scotland’s Railway is at the heart of what we do and if there was site to showcase this on. It is Whitecross, a perfect example of strong collaboration and teamwork enabled us to deliver on all above relying on the strengths and resilience of our team and suppliers enabled to us to positively respond when called whilst still delivering existing Domestic works.

A look through the before and after photographs hopefully will show you the scale of the challenge delivered successfully in the timeframe.“