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Consultancies help out on major projects

Posted: 28 December 2008 | | No comments yet

Consultancies are providing expertise that is helping to realise important railway projects in Europe and around the world. Britain’s first high-speed railway line – High Speed 1 – was opened by Queen Elizabeth II with much fanfare on 6 November 2007. High speed Eurostar trains now whisk passengers from the splendidly-restored station at London St Pancras to the centre of Paris in just 2hr 15min.

Consultancies are providing expertise that is helping to realise important railway projects in Europe and around the world. Britain’s first high-speed railway line – High Speed 1 – was opened by Queen Elizabeth II with much fanfare on 6 November 2007. High speed Eurostar trains now whisk passengers from the splendidly-restored station at London St Pancras to the centre of Paris in just 2hr 15min.

Consultancies are providing expertise that is helping to realise important railway projects in Europe and around the world. Britain’s first high-speed railway line – High Speed 1 – was opened by Queen Elizabeth II with much fanfare on 6 November 2007. High speed Eurostar trains now whisk passengers from the splendidly-restored station at London St Pancras to the centre of Paris in just 2hr 15min. This magnificent engineering achievement would not have been feasible without the help of some of the world’s biggest engineering consultancies. Indeed the very route of the new link, over the marshes by the river Thames and into London by an eastern approach, was the brainchild of Ove Arup – it appealed to the government as it gave an opportunity to regenerate areas by the river that have become known as Thames Gateway.

Ove Arup also played a key role in the detailed design of the new route. High Speed 1 was designed and project managed by the Rail Link Engineering consortium (RLE), which included Bechtel, Ove Arup, Halcrow, and Systra.

The four firms have complementary skills in rail technology, planning and project management. The big American firm Bechtel made a reputation for itself in the UK rail industry by rescuing a couple of failing projects. First, it made sure a late-running extension to London’s Jubilee Line would be open in time for the millennium, when national celebrations led by the Queen were held in the millennium dome close to North Greenwich station on the extension. Then it put the modernisation of the West Coast main line, Britain’s busiest rail route, back on track when it went over budget and time when Railtrack went into administration. After these two headaches, High Speed 1 came as a comparatively simple green field project.

Halcrow is well known in the British rail industry, having for instance designed new lines for London’s Docklands Light Railway. Systra, the consultancy that is jointly owned by SNCF (French Railways) and RATP (Paris Transport) along with some French banks, was a sensible choice as High Speed 1 used tried and tested French TGV technology.

Airport rail lines

Systra has also been helping on another mega project in London, the fifth terminal at BAA’s Heathrow Airport (T5), which will open in March 2008. The new terminal will be served by two railway lines, one an extension of London Underground’s Piccadilly Line and the other an extension of BAA’s own Heathrow Express system. Systra loaned two experts to BAA: they are respectively in charge of operation integration and of the definition of the commissioning processes of the Piccadilly Line and Heathrow Express extensions.

This project is generating work for many consultancy firms: for example Mott MacDonald is providing systems integration and assurance services for the two railway lines running into T5.

At the other end of the country, a new rail line serving Glasgow Airport has recently been authorised. Faber Maunsell undertook early design work on the branch, with detailed design being taken forward by Atkins.

Sweden

In the Swedish capital Stockholm, the City Line is a project to bore a new 6km rail tunnel under the core of the city between Tomteboda, in the northwest, and Stockholm South station. It will enable more traffic to be routed through the narrow approach to the city centre, easing congestion and increasing capacity by providing local commuter trains with their own dedicated section of track through the city.

The City Line will have two central underground stations to relieve city centre rail traffic. This will double capacity through the city from the current 24 trains per hour in each direction to 48.

The Swedish Rail Administration (Banverket) is responsible for the project and it has appointed several consultancies to assist. WSP is playing a major role, with responsibility for the tunnels in the city area and the new City station. The company will project manage the track, water and waste water installations for the entire length of the tunnel. WSP will also undertake rock investigation, geotechnical and construction work for the northern half of the project.

The new tunnel intersects the existing subway in two locations, so blasting necessitates the relocation of the subway track. WSP’s activities include the preparation of a new prefabricated bridge concept to carry traffic during the construction period.

The new tunnel has several interchanges with service tunnels carrying traffic control, power supply, water, waste water, telecom and energy lines. Access tunnels will also be required for the removal of building materials and blast rubble.

Banverket has appointed a consortium of consultants to undertake detailed technical design of the City Line. The consortium consists of ÅF (lead consultant), Rejlers, Tyréns and Atkins. The order involves the project engineering of all aspects of the technical rail installations, including ground survey work, track, electrics, signalling and telecommunications, SCADA and channelling as well as technical support up to the time when the facilities are taken into use. Rejlers’ main responsibility is the detailed design of channelling and object coordination. The project is estimated to continue until 2016.

Rejlers is also playing a role as a construction manager in the Citytunneln project in Malmö. Citytunneln consists of 17km of railway joining Malmö Central with the Öresund Bridge: it is due to be completed in 2011.

Exporting to the rest of the world

The British and Scandinavian case studies discussed above provide examples of the wide range of skills in the rail industry available from today’s consultancy firms. In decades gone by, those skills were all represented in the state railway organisations – which exported their expertise to other areas of the globe. Such traditional consultancy work still goes on.

An example of this type of work is provided by the consultancy arm of Deutsche Bahn (DB), which used to be known as DE-Consult but has been rebranded as DB-International. In April 2007, DB-International was awarded the contract to assist one of the selected Saudi contractors to build the North-South railway line in Saudi Arabia. This is a major project, with a route length of more than 2,000km.

One purpose of the project is to connect phosphate and bauxite mines in the north-east of the Saudi Arabian peninsula to the Arabian Gulf. DB-International has responsibility for the overall project management, in particular quality control, cost/time control, construction management and technical management. Construction will last until 2010.

Interoperability

New opportunities for consultancies are opening up as the European Commission drives forward policies designed to open up the EU’s railway networks to multiple operators. European directive 96/48 enshrines the principles of Technical Standards of Interoperability, which should allow trains to pass seamlessly from one national network to another.

The directive requires mandatory certification for components and subsystems to be used for the high-speed railway systems. The testing, examination and certification of these components and subsystems are carried out by Notified Bodies (NoBos): many consultancies have qualified as NoBos. An example in the Netherlands is Kema Rail, an independent institute which is officially recognised by the Dutch Ministry of Transport. The company assists in the testing and certification of products and processes.

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