Network Rail Track Recycling Centre - Spencer Group

Network Rail Track Recycling Centre

Spencer works closely with clients to understand their waste materials and streams, developing the best solutions to maximise recycling rates and efficiency. In 2010 we were awarded the contract to design and build Britain’s largest recycling and processing centre at Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire by Network Rail.

Project Scope

The new facility covers 50 acres of derelict land and created 25 new jobs. Its foundations were constructed using 125,000 tonnes of recycled railway ballast and will handle 40% of Britain’s used track materials, creating reusable products for the rail construction industries.

The new hazardous ballast washing facility was created to remove contaminants to create further recycled products, with only a very small amount (around 2,000t) of residual materials required to go to landfill. Due to access restrictions during the project, the Spencer team commissioned and installed a temporary on-site concrete batching facility. This innovative plan saved 6,000 lorry movements throughout the project.

Dust suppression systems were critical in minimising the risk of contamination to the surrounding environment. Furthermore, white noise sirens were installed at the site to minimise the impact on the surrounding road network. Utilising the existing cabling and switchgear in the design – saving a new supply upgrade to the site – Spencer Group achieved a saving of £500,000.


Over 500 miles of used rail, 800 switches and crossings and 50,000 tonnes of contaminated ballast will be processed at Whitemoor each year. Recycling the ballast alone will remove more than 2,500 lorry journeys from our roads and save Network Rail around £5m in landfill tax each year.
The size of the development, the care for native species and the ecologically sound innovations which have gone into every stage of the project’s construction, saw it receive the ‘Excellent’ CEEQUAL award.