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Subway switch

Precast concrete was the key to success for contractor Cleshar as it raced against time to replace a vital piece of rail infrastructure during a 52 hour track possession. NCE reports.

Cleshar was recently brought in as a specialist by main contractor Costain/Hochtief to help it with the £80M redevelopment of Reading Station. Cleshar’s job was to replace the deck over the existing station subway with a new precast unit.

To minimise impact on rail operations and the travelling public, works had to be completed within a 35 hour window during a 52 hour possession.

In that time Cleshar had to remove the track and ballast above the deck, strip out the existing steel trough subway deck and remove the top sections of the brick abutments. It then had to rapidly install new precast concrete sill sections on the remaining abutments together with elastomeric bearings on to which the new precast deck section was to be installed.

Finally, a 1,000t Ainscough LTM 1800 crane able to cope with the 38m reach needed was brought in to lift the 41t deck into position.

Pandrol track fastenings were attached to the deck in advance to save time during the track replacement phase.

£850M revamp

The work is part of a massive £850M six-year revamp of the entire rail system in the Reading area aimed at tackling one of the biggest bottlenecks on the UK rail network.

The work includes a complete overhaul of the station along with renewal of track, signalling and bridges.

It will see five new platforms constructed at Reading, as well as a new footbridge linking platforms to new entrance buildings on the north and south side of the station. Costain/Hochtief’s £80M contract to carry out this part of the works will be the largest single contract awarded on the project.

All work at the station is due to be finished in 2013. When the project is complete, passengers will no longer have to wait outside the station for a platform to become available.

At the same time Network Rail is tackling the bottleneck by constructing a 1.2km long precast concrete viaduct to the west of Reading station to take the fast lines over slower tracks. This will dramatically increase the number of trains that can use this part of the network.

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