Balfour Beatty Rail Projects not only builds railways, it designs them too.
Up at their aptly named 'Stephenson House' offices near Liverpool, BBRP engineers are busy designing electrification solutions for the West Coast Route Modernisation, Thameslink 2000 and the Terminal Five rail extension, to name but a few.
The huge workload and tight schedules have led BBRP to be at the forefront of the technical development of computer aided design to improve productivity, constructability and quality and it has some impressive tools to do just that.
The WCML project is a prime example. Along the 250 mile length of the project some 20,000 structures need to be structurally assessed and if necessary redesigned for increased loads that arise from speed and capacity increases that are part of this major upgrade. The first step in the design process has been to establish a CAD electronic version of the existing electrification layouts and cross sections. This was achieved by the use of existing drawings, exhaustive surveys and some of the CAD tools mentioned above.
Using modern IT links, Balfour Beatty engineers in Liverpool are directly connected to the company's Sharjah office in the United Arab Emirates, where, in joint venture with Atkins a team of Indian engineers led by a BBRP engineering manager are busy helping design the electrification upgrade to Britain's busiest railway.
The Thameslink 2000 project is aimed at dramatically improving capacity on one of the busiest commuter routes in to London. The very significant improvements to the trackwork, power and signalling will enable twice as many trains to use the route by 2010, relieving a bottleneck that delays thousands of commuters every day. Rigid overhead conductor technology, widely used abroad but less so in the UK, is being developed for two new tunnels to be bored just outside Kings Cross Thameslink station, where maintenance and space considerations favour its use over traditional tensioned wire arrangements. The new route will allow trains that have arrived in the country from continental Europe via the Channel Tunnel to access the East Coast Main Line and continue northwards.
BBRP's Liverpool office also has its own training track complete with electrification structures where construction and design staff are trained and can develop their skills in a safe environment.