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CIVIL ENGINEERING & CONSTRUCTION


“We all sit side by side and there is no duplication or man-marking across the two organisations.”


Spiller added: “The idea is that it goes beyond collaboration, which would still imply there are two teams. This is, in effect, one team. That’s a step forward from what people have been used to.”


Hitchin became the guinea pig for the alliance model, which is now being rolled out more widely, with a similar path being taken on the north Doncaster chord grade separation project.


Hilton said: “Within Network Rail, we have an ‘alliance academy’ that’s been set up to transfer experience from one project to another, and we’ve been quite key in developing experience for that. It’s a model and a mode that’s going to be coming more to the forefront over the next year or so.”


Timing


Both sides agree that formalising the alliance even earlier would have helped. Spiller explained: “With hindsight, we all recognise that GRIP 4 would have been the best stage to start the alliance.


“Whilst we’ve not been able to deliver everything in terms of performance that we could have done had we been involved earlier, we’ve certainly helped Network Rail as a client organisation move from the traditional


contract to making an alliance work. We’ve been the guinea pig project.”


Hilton said in the future, alliances will come in at the back end of GRIP 3 or start of GRIP 4. “One of the things we always struggle with in developing schemes is contractor knowledge. By getting contractor’s ideas on constructability issues built in up-front, obviously that’s going to bring huge programming and commercial benefi ts.”


Overnight lift


The key milestone for the project has been passed – the 30-tonne main span of the fl yover was lifted into place in just 90 minutes over the weekend at the beginning of July.


It was fabricated off-site, by Mabey Bridge in south Wales. Taling about the main span, Spiller explained: “That particular set of beams, was brought in in shorter single lengths and then spliced to create longer single beams, and then fi nally braced into a pair. There was then some on-site build prior to the lift.”


Possession windows have been relatively short, generally six or seven-hour hours over Saturday nights and Sunday mornings.


Hilton said: “We’ve been incredibly conservative, generally, with our possession access – which has caused us problems,” he admitted. “As with any scheme, there’s a trade- off between access and effi ciency, and we have to remember on the railway that we have a railway to run, and customers have services they want to operate.”


Spiller said: “The methodology and design for this pro- ject has been fairly straightforward; the challenge has been integrating it with the railway, carrying


out critical works in short overnight posses- sions or in planned access.”


Weather or not…


The fi rst pile went into the ground in late March, and when RTM talked to Hilton and Spiller in late July, they had progressed about 60% of the substructure, with three spans of the superstructure over the ECML in place: one over the railway and one either end. The next phase of beam erection began at the beginning of August.


Earthworks at the Cambridge line end have also recently started – “just as the weather turned from bad to horrendous”.


“It’s not been the best of time to start placing chalk fi ll in the embankment!” Spiller said, of one of the wettest summers in UK history. But the plans are on track and on budget, with connections at the Cambridge line end being done at the end of November, and overall, Hilton said, Network Rail and Hochtief are happy with the project so far – and with how their alliance is working.


TELL US WHAT YOU THINK opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com


rail technology magazine Aug/Sep 12 | 33


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