The East West Rail project aims to improve connections between East Anglia and central, southern and western England through line extensions, upgrades and new stations. Network Rail and Chiltern Railways collaborated to undertake Phase 1 of the western section running from Oxford to Bicester. The project, running since December 2016, involved widening existing track beds, increasing line speeds and installing a signalling system. The infrastructure was built to accommodate overhead electrical lines for future electrification projects. RSK worked as the key supplier during the Phase 1 tender stage.
We provided environmental and consent management services and liaised with key stakeholders. The vast amount of on-site environmental data was managed by a powerful ArcGIS online database, which gave all project team users access to up-to-date information. A project-unique website provided businesses and residents with information on the project, and social media updated daily on the project’s progress and delays.
As part of environmental management service, we held regular meetings with local authority environmental health officers, the Environment Agency and Natural England. Group environmental impact assessments identified protected species in construction areas. We also managed the relevant construction licences and multiple plans for great crested newts and more than 25 badger setts. As the license holder, RSK took responsibility for providing training and toolbox talks to site workers, responding to incidents and liaising with Natural England. The project was a finalist in the Environmental and Sustainability category of the 2016 Rail Industry Awards, received a Beyond Compliance certificate and won a silver national Site Award for considerate construction.
The East West rail development is on track to be completed by late 2023, providing faster, cheaper and more reliable public transport options. Developers of the project hope the new connections will allow for easier commutes in the local areas, releasing new job opportunities and supporting local businesses and the economy.