Written for the rail engineer
The pages of your favourite railway engineering magazine are always full of the goings-on of the major rail infrastructure contractors.
Balfour Beatty, Carillion, BAM Nuttall, May Gurney, Murphy and others – they all feature regularly.
The likes of QTS, Story Rail, Stobart Rail and Taziker International have their moments under the spotlight too.
So it is a pleasure, for a change, to look at the work of one of the smaller contractors. Straddling the English / Scottish border at Carlisle, TCB Rail & Groundworks is well-placed to cover all of the UK.
Although only formed in 2010, the founder members have over 30 years of practical and managerial experience within the rail industry.
The company specialises in all types of contract work which vary in size from small to large, offering a friendly, reliable and professional service where client satisfaction is paramount.
In short, TCB offer all the standard building services that are complicated by the need to undertake the work on a live railway.
So drainage, block paving, asphalt laying, wall building and roofing are all undertaken using a PTS certified workforce. Additionally, the more specialised fields of track renewals (re-rail, stressing, sleeper changing) can also be accommodated.
TCB tend to work on behalf of a larger contractor, who themselves are working for an even larger one or for Network Rail. An example of this was a recent track renewal job near Oxford.
Murphy had been contracted to refurbish a bridge for Network Rail.
The track and ballast had to be removed from the bridge deck so that it could be re-waterproofed. The track then had to be replaced. Murphy asked McGregor Railway Services to remove the old track, and they turned to TCB.
Once the blockade was in place, the rails were cut and dragged clear of the bridge. The concrete sleepers were removed using a RRV and stacked ready for reuse. An excavator removed the ballast and loaded it into two wagons.
After the waterproofing was complete, the process was reversed and the ballast, sleepers and rails replaced and the track restressed. Murphy arranged for a tamper to go through, and then to finish off TCB dressed everything up and tidied the site.
Replacing a roof and resurfacing some hard standing are jobs done every day on factories, supermarkets and community centres all over the country. But on a live railway, when it is a station that is being refurbished, there are added complications that require a specialist such as TCB.
Meadow Well station on the Tyne & Wear Metro was opened in 1982 as Smith’s Park. Thirty years later, renamed and having been the target of frequent vandal attacks, a major refurbishment was needed.
The roofs over both platforms were to be completely replaced and the platform surfaces broken up and relayed with the mandatory tactile strips.
Working to an agreed design, TCB installed elegant new roofs in Metro’s colours. The asphalt platform surface was removed and replaced along with tiles for the tactile strip. The whole job was completed on budget, and on time.
Down the drain
Can Geotechnical were carrying out embankment stabilisation works at Hastings, East Sussex. New drainage was needed to carry the water away from the embankment to stop further problems in the future and TCB Rail and Groundworks were asked to carry out that phase of the project.
Devegetation was the first thing to do, along with building an access road through the heavy vegetation.
Once this was underway, TCB started to dig back and install the pipe work and aqua chambers, as well as to build a head wall and concrete pad for the drainage and for the water to disperse into an existing water course.
The project was based on a 4 week programme but TCB helped to get this down to a 2 week installation with no incidents or accidents or any effects on the job.
All of these jobs, looked at in isolation, sound quite routine. But without companies such as TCB Rail & Groundworks, the routine often wouldn’t get done.