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The easy cell

Geotechnics - Work to double capacity on the West Coast Main Line in the UK is featuring some innovative soil stabilisation techniques.

Innovation and the rail industry do not always go hand in hand. However, the $692M Trent Valley Four Tracking Project (TV4), which will add an additional two tracks to the West Coast Main Line in the UK, is different.

It will feature the first cellular confinement system to be approved by Network Rail for its UK rail infrastructure projects.

PRS's cellular confinement system, Neoweb, is to be installed in the coming months in the Lichfield area of the project.

And it is no easy starter for 10. Due to a range of ground conditions presented by the existing railway formation and sections of track on new embankments and capping layers, the works posed potential engineering problems.

Neoweb has been used effectively in previous rail projects with Network Rail in the UK and other rail companies around the world to stabilise soils on adjacent slopes and embankments. The product was subsequently identified as an effective solution for TV4.

'Neoweb offered unique benefits, including its ability to reduce the effects of differential settlements across varying support conditions identified at the site, ' says PRS GB national manager Kiran Mistry.

The geocell product, first developed in the US in the late 1970s, uses a threedimensional honeycomb-like structure that confines soil in its cells. This allows the soil to function and perform as nature intended, while providing the stability required in a variety of applications. Typical applications include load support, slope stability and earth retention, especially in poor ground conditions.

Neoweb will be used to ensure a consistent support beneath new switches and crossings near transitions from the existing railway formation to the new earthworks and capping layers.

Mistry says: 'Installing Neoweb allows for reduced structure sizes to be used under railway tracks that have the potential for carrying heavier freight and passenger loads at higher speeds.

'Additional long-term benefits include reduced ballast maintenance works, saving Network Rail time and money.' The system will also be used in siwitch and crossings build up areas to provide a stable footing for heavy plant.

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