15-day blockade success at Gravesend

A record-breaking programme of upgrades to Britain’s rail network was successfully completed over the Christmas and New Year period, providing new tracks, new and longer platforms, new lifts and footbridges at stations, upgraded signalling equipment and electrification equipment to allow cleaner, faster trains to run.

Despite some of the worst storms to hit the south of England in decades, Spencer Rail delivered the UK’s biggest rail engineering project over the festive period.

The 15-day blockade involved the complete redevelopment of Gravesend Railway Station as part of the larger, £75m Transport Quarter project which is set to help lead a renaissance of the commuter town.

Network Rail appointed Spencer Rail as principal contractor to complete the comprehensive refurbishment and remodelling of the Grade II listed station.

The main thrust of the project was the substantial alteration of the track-layout to accommodate a new platform and the extension of the current platforms to accommodate 12-coach trains, as opposed to the previous10-coach limit.

The colossal level activity was completed on time.

During the works, Spencer Rail also upgraded the station facilities under the Access for All scheme through the installation of a new footbridge and lifts to all platforms.

Additionally the track layout throughout the station was remodelled from a four-line (two up and two down) to a three line – one up and one down line and a bay platform line.

Engineers also constructed a new island platform and a canopy while extending the existing Platforms 1 and 2.

New signals were installed, with a lightweight ground-based maintenance solution used.

Raj Sinha, managing director, Spencer Rail, said: “90,000 man hours, no reportable accidents, 982m of new track, 5,000m3 of new ballast, 1,060 sleepers installed, 275m of island platform, 120m of platform extensions, 1,463m of new conductor rail, 400m of conductor rail realigned, 2,500 crane lifts, 20 new cameras installed, one turnout created, no complaints from nearby neighbours, 12-car trains able to use the station for the first time, one fantastic project delivered on time – this is an incredible achievement and I am very proud of what my team has delivered.

“Detailed planning and superb delivery have resulted in some very positive feedback from the highest levels within the industry – plaudits that are very well deserved.”

The project was the work of many months of intricate planning by Spencer Rail which, due to the very confined nature of the worksite, the close proximity of nearby neighbours and the atrocious weather conditions, was extremely challenging.

The complexity of the works, given the existing bridges, tunnels and the fact that the station is in a cutting made the project all the more demanding.

Despite this, the station was handed back on time and the Spencer Rail, Network Rail and Southeastern community relations teams are delighted to announce that they did not receive a single resident or passenger complaint during the works.

Gravesend railway station runs many commuter services operated by Southeastern.

High speed (HS1) services to London St Pancras International were introduced in December 2009, elevating the station to be widely considered as a major interchange for metro and high speed services due mainly to the sizeable London-bound commuter population in and around Gravesham.