When an unstable stone feature on a station building failed, falling debris crashed onto an empty platform. Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of stations across the UK, realised it needed expert help to ensure the public’s safety by preventing further failures. However, this required working at height and accessing challenging locations.
Access specialists Up and Under, an RSK company, assembled its elite team of difficult-to-access specialists to assess the stability and condition of architectural features at more than 80 stations on National Rail’s London Northwestern rail lines. Teams of 2–3 specialists simultaneously conducted comprehensive reconnaissance to identify and confirm the access requirements for potential features such as gargoyles, finials, ornate brackets and timber eaves.
Over six months in 2016, the elite teams, using rope skills and equipped with ladders, tower scaffolds and mobile elevating work platforms, accessed difficult-to-reach areas of the stations checking the condition and stability of the features. When the team encountered precarious stone features, they removed loose material to prevent further failures. They also compiled photographic records and a written report for each station. The survey teams worked flexibly, and their working-at-height experience enabled them to complete each examination with minimal disruptions to the rail operators and the public.