Derby’s radical remodelling
The railway around Derby was successfully remodelled in a 79-day project that only involved one day of the station’s total closure. ANDREW RODEN takes a closer look at how Network Rail and train operators worked together to make it such a success
On October 8, after a 79-day partial blockade, the remodelled Derby station opened on time and on budget in a textbook example of expert planning and pan-industry co-operation.
The £ 200 million project was hailed by Network Rail London North Eastern and East Midlands Route Managing Director Rob McIntosh as the biggest area remodelling since the schemes at Crewe and York in the 1980s.
The aims of the project were to remodel the approaches to the station to reduce conflicting movements, increase the linespeed through the station from the previous 15mph limit to 30mph, increase capacity and renew lifeexpired signalling and tracks. The project formed part of the ongoing Midland Main Line upgrade which will feature electrification as far as Corby and capacity enhancements along the route.
The changes are significant. Old sidings and goods lines in the station area were removed to create space for a new 320-metre platform, one new signal gantry was installed, along with 300m of drainage, 2km of new track installed and 15km of track renewed, 11 sets of points, ten new straight post signals, 50 piles to support new signals and 18km of signal cable troughing were also installed. Some 240 engineering trains ran during the blockade to support the project.
A vital aspect of its success was extensive planning more than two years ago that established the detailed programme of how it would all work together. The thoroughness of this meant that unlike some projects where extensive senior management intervention is required, interventions were few, allowing staff on the ground to get on with the job. The statistics give an indication of the scale of the work at Derby. More than 600,000 hours of work was carried out, and 150,000 tonnes of ballast and 21,177 sleepers laid. The project required the use of 14 Kirow cranes and 95 tamping shifts. It was a major project in every sense of the term.
Phasing was vital to Derby’s success - as was an extensive information campaign to inform passengers of the work and what was happening. So successful was the latter that McIntosh says there were only a handful of complaints from passengers affected by the inevitable disruption.
In the first nine days, existing track was removed and new track relaid from Sunny Hill to Osmaston Road outside the station. At the same time, signals and train detection equipment were installed.
The next phase, running from day nine to 23, featured the removal and relaying of tracks from Osmaston Road to Derby station, including on Platforms 1-6.
At this time, work started to straighten Platforms 2 and 6 to allow linespeeds to be raised though the station from 15mph to 30mph. Signalling was installed and the renewal of Spondon level crossing started with obstacle detection systems installed to improve safety. The aim of this aspect of the work was to reduce the amount of time the level crossing barriers stay down and reduce road congestion.
From days 23 to 30, attention focused on remodelling London Road South Junction to Derby station to reduce the number of conflicting movements - a key aim in increasing the station’s capacity. Again, signalling engineers installed and tested new signals after the track was installed.
Derby's platforms were straightened (inset) and a new Platform 6 built in the £200 million remodelling.