Welcome to NCE’s roundup to all things geotechnical this month featuring expert comment from the Federation of Piling Specialists chairman Jim De Waele and major milestones from the mega-rail project – understood to be Europe’s largest – Crossrail.
Jim De Waele gives us the good news that Federation of Piling Specialist members have witnessed a 25% increase in geotechnical contracts over the past 12 months and it’s not just in the South East or skewed favourably by one or two mega schemes. However, he warns that the industry would do well to reduce the “overbearing quantity” and “duplication of” management from the client down. Better to employ a supply chain you can trust, and then trust them to do the job, he says.
And talking of mega schemes, civils work on Crossrail is thriving at the moment.
There was the great news that the first-launched tunnel boring machine (TBM) on the scheme, Phyllis, as it reached its destination at Farringdon in central London. Take a look at NCE’s gallery of the final moments inside Phyllis here.
Different in style but no less scintillating is the work of the Mixed-shield TBM over on Crossrail’s only tunnel under the Thames, which is just embarking on its route in East London. Crossrail reckons this one is the one to beat for being high risk nature because of the proximity of nearby Dockland Light Railway tunnels as well as successfully making its crossing beneath the river within strict settlement criteria. Read our special feature on how the team is dealing with the challenges here.
Major news stories in the sector in recent weeks stay on the theme of London tunnels as Costain completed the latest phase (ahead of schedule) of its £200M contract on the power tunnels project for National Grid and contractors have urged Transport for London to remain open-minded on designing the new Silvertown crossing as an immersed tube tunnel. In Scotland, construction of the £790M replacement Forth Crossing in Scotland remains on schedule despite delays in installing the bridge’s three, huge steel foundation caissons.
A lot is happening elsewhere this week as project promoter Femern announced that two turnkey contracts – one for M&E for the fixed link immersed tube tunnel crossing between Denmark and Germany and a second for a new substation at Rødbyhavn in Denmark – would be revealed in December. The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has urged the government to reassess the potential of geothermal energy.
On the Isle of Wight two projects to strengthen unstable stretches of road – at Bouldnor Road in Yarmouth and the Undercliff at Niton – are set to start on site next month. Island Roads service director Paul Herbert said: “We know that the unstable nature of the highway at both of these locations has been a concern for many years. These schemes have been designed to finally bring lasting solutions to what are important parts of the Island’s highways network.”
Keep following NCE’s daily live news updates to stay ahead of the top geotechnical stories.
And keep your eyes peeled for the next geotechnical alert in November.