So large is the scale of other works for the new high-speed line that it is easy to forget that Stratford and Ebbsfleet International stations are both major projects in their own right.
'Identikit' is one description that has been applied to the two new structures. 'They're mirror images of each other, ' says RLE's Lee Holmes who was construction manager, then contract manager for both jobs.
Both stations are bridge-type, straddling the high speed tracks and providing dramatic views along the trace for passengers in the departure lounges. At Stratford, the international platforms are arranged either side of the Stratford box, with an island platform for domestic trains in the centre.
Arrangements at Ebbsfleet are similar but there is an additional island platform, again for domestic services, located on an elevated link to the North Kent Line. This is accessible from the main station.
At Stratford International, the island platform serving the domestic lines is split by a viaduct carrying the single line taking Eurostar trains to the Temple Mills depot. This exits through the northern side of the massive box walls.
The main station buildings are simple glazed box structures.
The roofing membrane over a central atrium is semitransparent so natural light filters down to the platforms. The roof extends beyond the footprint of the station to provide cover for travellers.
RLE was principal contractor and construction manager for the stations, managing 12 trade contractors all working under lump sum contracts.
Stratford was the first station to start construction and when Holmes and the team of contractors arrived on site there was a completed structural slab with holding down bolts ready for them to start erection of the steel frame. Remediation and landscaping of the surrounding site was still ongoing and there was only a single access road.
With so many trades working on a fairly enclosed site, each, as Holmes says, 'with their own priorities', planning and negotiating interfaces was crucial. A great deal of preplanning had already been carried out which was to pay off in the smooth running of the job. A mandatory daily co-ordination meeting between the RLE construction team and all the trade contractors took place mid-afternoon, towards the end of every working day. This allowed actual progress to be reviewed and the following day's work mapped out with possible conflicts to be highlighted and resolved.
Additionally, the RLE team held meetings with the trade contractors each week to thrash out specific problems. Once work at Ebbsfleet International started, Holmes shuttled between the sites to attend meetings.
Both stations are complete.
Final fitting out, for example, ticket machines and public seating - will be managed by LCR and the train operators.