Safeguarding UK railway stations
When an unstable stone feature on a station building failed, falling debris crashed onto an empty platform. This incident led to Network Rail realising that, as the owner and infrastructure manager of stations across the UK, it needed expert help to ensure the public’s safety by preventing further failures. However, this required working at height and accessing challenging locations, which can often mean expensive and restrictive scaffolding to gain access; this can far outweigh the cost of the repairs themselves.
The chosen experts were Up and Under, an RSK company based in Cheshire that has more than 30 years of experience working on safety-critical construction and maintenance projects. Up and Under has often been able to use its specialist access skills to complete works without the need for extensive scaffolding. This means that cleaning, maintenance and repairs can be undertaken efficiently and safely with minimum disruption.
For this project, Up and Under assembled its elite team of difficult-access specialists to assess the stability and condition of architectural features at more than 80 stations on Network Rail’s London Northwestern Railway lines. Teams of 2 to 3 specialists simultaneously conducted comprehensive reconnaissance to identify and confirm the access requirements for 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 and checked 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 disruption to the rail operator and the public.