To support the future operation of the Elizabeth line, TfL invested in a brand new fleet of high-capacity, 9-carriage, Class 345 trains. Although the trains would eventually operate through a new station under Liverpool Street station once the Central section of the Elizabeth line was opened, TfL required MTR to be able to operate TfL Rail to and from Network Rail’s main line station, maintaining existing services from the station and providing future operational flexibility during periods of disruption.
As the future operator of the Elizabeth line on behalf of Transport for London (TfL), MTR was using platforms 16 and 17 at the main line station for its existing TfL Rail services to and from Shenfield. However, with the introduction of new longer trains, the platforms at the station would be too short, requiring a solution that ensured passengers could receive early benefits from the new trains and their increased capacity. Platform extensions were planned as part of the Crossrail project but were unable to be completed due to contractual issues.
Through MTR’s relationships with a panel of leading construction firms, MTR was awarded the contract to manage the platform extension works. As a third-party scheme on Network Rail infrastructure, this was a ground-breaking project, using a new and innovative model to provide a more nimble, cost-effective alternative to the use of Tier 1 suppliers.
MTR and its construction partner BCM developed and implemented an integrated joint programme from design through to construction. To avoid widespread disruption, works were designed to be undertaken during two ten-day blockades over Christmas 2020 and Easter 2021 when passenger numbers were expected to be lighter.
As an existing rail operator, MTR was able to draw on its industry relationships and experience of community engagement along the line to bring the various stakeholders on board, including Network Rail, other train operators, local businesses and residents. With its experience of maintaining essential rail services during the COVID-19 pandemic, MTR worked with BCM to implement additional measures above and beyond Government guidelines to keep people safe and avoid the spread of infection among the workforce.
Innovation was a cornerstone of the project for both MTR and BCM. Before the blockade took place, MTR operated a number of ‘Whiteboard Trains’, an industry-leading initiative allowing unique access to the infrastructure and providing the designers and stakeholders with a unique view of the approach to Liverpool Street station, its access points and critical assets. BCM employed a ballastless slab track system, speeding up delivery of the project, minimising costs and delivering benefits in terms of quality, longevity and durability.
Project completed with only two 10-day blockades, minimising disruption for passengers
The first 9-car Class 345 train pulled into Platform 16 at Liverpool Street station on 13 April 2021. Flanked by key members of the project team, as well as train manufacturer Alstom, the occasion marked the delivery of a major milestone for the Elizabeth line, whilst demonstrating the dedication and skill of our combined team. Together, MTR and BCM were able to deliver the project, during a global pandemic, on time, on budget and at a lower cost than the original scheme.
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