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Rail engineering: Upgrades on track

by | Aug 29, 2017 | Blog, Engineering Design & HSE

Sixty million passengers pass through London’s Paddington Station every year. Built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as the terminus of the Great Western Railway (GWR), the station is now a critical part of the UK’s rail infrastructure.

GSE System’s specialist rail engineering team was called in to assist with the largest redevelopment programme in the station’s 178-year history, in preparation for a number of major developments on the rail network, including the electrification of the Great Western line and the opening of Crossrail.

As part of the redevelopment programme, Paddington’s Platform 12 and 13 were rebuilt and combined to accommodate the new 164m long Bombardier Electrostar Class 387 trains purchased by GWR. Platform 14 was also extended and electrified to take the larger trains.

The upgrade and extension work was a formidably complex project. Network Rail, the owner of the platform, had to arrange the works to minimise disruption for passengers
at the busy London terminus, and coordinate its planned activities with Transport for London, which operates the adjacent Platform 15, and had its own upgrade and renewal plans to consider. Moreover, the changes had to minimise impact on the historic station, which is a Grade 1 listed building.

Our role in this effort focussed on the complex design work required to modify and renew the lighting, small power and communications equipment and cabling across all the affected platforms. That work included relocation of existing equipment, changes to the station’s electrical distribution system and the provision of power to a new building. Everything had to be completed to stringent railway electrical safety standards, including a risk assessment to determine the likelihood of high voltage overhead lines coming into contact with equipment in the event of a derwirement.  We also planned the recovery of cabling, equipment and sub-circuits no longer required because of the work, which included the demolition of two existing buildings.

One of the biggest electrical system changes in the renovation project was the upgrade of the lighting on platform 14. The owner wanted to change from the existing fluorescent luminaires to energy efficient high-performance LED lighting. Our team used specialist software to evaluate various potential lighting schemes and was able to propose a solution that ensured adequate lighting levels could delivered under the extended canopy and throughout the longer platform.

Finally, all the upgrade work had to be completed with minimal disruption to the day to day operation of one of Britain’s busiest railway stations. Our team planned staged works and cable diversions to ensure the continuity of essential services throughout the process.

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