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Rail crane’s key role on east London Tube project

Balfour Beatty Rail has overcome a tricky Tube job in east London with the help of a Kirow rail crane at a new £28M reversing facility at West Ham on the District Line.

The contractor regularly uses its specialist Kirow cranes in the heavy rail environment, but this was the first time they had been used on the London ­Underground.


The Balfour Beatty/London Underground Track Alliance trialled the crane to save time
and labour, and to reduce disruption. It enabled the large track panels that make up the turnout sections to be fabricated off site and then lifted into position ­during a single 52-hour weekend possession.

Ground preparation


Before the new track sections were installed, the ground was prepared by bulldozers fitted with a Trimble laser guidance and levelling system - a method ­currently being introduced on London Underground projects.

Then, during the possession, the Kirow was used to install four turnouts, each one taking an average of three hours, with the crane travelling along newly laid track panels as the project progressed.

The Kirow crane has a 125t ­lifting capacity and can travel carrying loads up to 87t. It can also pick up and carry a load 33m long weighing 36.5t, with the jib horizontal.

Another innovation during the weekend was the installation of four helical pile foundations for the signals, whichBalfour Beatty claims improved efficiency and ­reduced risk, as each unit took just two hours to complete instead of the two shifts required using ­traditional methods.
The new reversing facility is due to be opened next month.

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