Concrete Canvas’s unique properties make it an ideal solution for a wide range of rail applications, including crest drainage, slope protection, weed suppression and erosion control. It’s easy installation and durability make it a popular choice for rail infrastructure projects.

Concrete Canvas® (CC) is a flexible, concrete-filled geosynthetic that hardens on hydration to form a thin, durable and waterproof concrete layer. CC combines the robustness of a precast or poured concrete solution with the ease of installation and reduced permeability of a geomembrane. CC allows concrete construction without the need for plant or mixing equipment, offering a rapid, lower carbon, environmentally sensitive solution for erosion control and weed suppression applications. Essentially, it’s Concrete on a Roll™.

CC is manufactured in South Wales and exported to over 80 countries worldwide from its purpose-built headquarters, incorporating state-of-the-art R&D laboratories and a demonstration park.

The speed and ease of installing CC mean it is well suited to time-critical track-side work, reducing line possession and improving safety. Eliminating issues associated with rebound from shotcrete and the large plant and equipment required for traditional concreting methods means rail works can continue without line closures. CC is certified with a durability of over 120 years when used in erosion control applications – HS2 requires a 120-year design life for products; this provides vital accreditation to the physical properties, design and installation guidance of CC, enabling designers to ensure they are specifying a quality material.

With tightening budgets and a greater focus on increasing the efficiencies of current assets rather than building new ones, CC offers a unique solution for the remediation of existing infrastructure. CC can improve the industry by utilising existing assets, reducing waste and contractor burden. One Bulk Roll of CC equals two ready mix trucks; therefore, one 40ft vehicle movement would cut down on 32 mixer trucks.

CC is an industry-accepted alternative to conventional concrete that has been widely used by Network Rail across the UK for over 14 years and is one of a few products included in the Network Rail Standardised Task Portal. Route Directors, Senior Asset Engineers (Drainage) and minor works teams across the five Network Rail regions and their 13 routes have specified the geosynthetic.

CC has been extensively used through CP4, CP5 and CP6. Most route network framework contractors have installed CC, including QTS, Balfour Beatty, BAM Nuttall, Costain, AmcoGiffen, Alun Griffiths and Story Contracting. CC has been specified on numerous projects for Network Rail, Transport for London, Translink NI Railways and others. Typical applications for Rail in the UK include channel lining, culvert repair and weed suppression.

During three control periods, the company has been fortunate to be involved in over 600 Network Rail schemes across the UK. Some recent standout projects include the installation of Concrete Canvas® for the rapid lining of crest drainage channels across several Network Rail routes, including work at Slochd, Charfield and Bath Road Cutting. It was specified over ST4 poured concrete to line crest perimeter drainage channels on different compounds at HS2; this application is typically required to prevent saturation of embankments and potential slip onto a track below as a result. For all projects, the ease and speed of installation allowed contractors to increase workers’ health & safety by minimising the time on site, reducing line possession during the works and providing a lower carbon alternative to conventional concrete lining methods.

As a supply chain partner with Network Rail since 2009, CC has worked and collaborated with most Tier 1 and Tier 2 consultants and contractors in the rail sector across the UK. As a manufacturer, CC can provide expert support at all project stages, from pre-design to completion, with regional technical sales support, specification and installation guidance.

A new product range has been developed to reduce further the environmental impact of the original Concrete Canvas® material whilst delivering even higher performance for the customer. The new T-series has 33 per cent less embodied carbon than standard CC, providing more than 63 per cent savings when used to replace conventional poured concrete for erosion control applications. The new material also has 25 per cent higher abrasion resistance providing longer-lasting protection.

The T-series was a vast project for Concrete Canvas, with thousands of hours in research by the R&D team with well over 150 documents carefully being checked, updated and re-issued by the Marketing Department to launch successfully in June 2022.

CC Ltd is working hard to reduce the company’s environmental footprint and is proud that by replacing conventional concrete solutions, CC products sold to date are estimated to have saved over 3000 tonnes of CO2 emissions globally. The T-series product line mentioned previously has 33 per cent less embodied carbon than the original CC and is building on this legacy as we advance.

The introduction of the T-series has already seen several of its key benefits utilised by clients in the Rail Sector and beyond to help them deliver their KPIs and objectives to reduce embodied carbon on projects.

One of the biggest challenges to the railway network in recent years has been extreme weather conditions. Long-term trends show changing weather patterns with increasing average and maximum daily temperatures with drier summers, wetter winters, and severe storms. The increased risk of weather-related events such as floods and landslips causing delays, rising operating costs and increased safety risks along the network is a genuine issue.

There has been increased investment in CP6 and a focus on weather resilience, which has led to long-term asset resilience improvements, reducing the number of assets susceptible to adverse weather. Drainage management has also been enhanced, focussing on the importance of water management around rail infrastructure to prevent saturation of slopes and minimise the risk of landslips.

An example of use is a recent multi-agency scheme, headed by the Environment Agency with National Highways and Network Rail collaboration to provide an erosion protection solution to a Network Rail embankment as part of an overall flood alleviation scheme in Birmingham. The use of Concrete Canvas showed the materials’ innovative approach to solving issues the original poured concrete design presented to the contractor regarding the project’s buildability.

The GWP saving on this scheme alone, compared to ST4 poured concrete was a massive 66 per cent. All parties had approved and accepted the original material. Still, after the launch of the new T-series formulation, even better-embodied carbon savings than initially expected were achieved.

CCT-series is already reducing the amount of embodied carbon emitted by the rail sector. Since launch last year, Concrete Canvas has sold over 11,600m² of material to the rail sector across the UK at just under £300,000. The switch to the T-series has saved 160 tonnes of CO2 , equivalent to approximately 26 days of airline flight or 7,500 trees absorbing CO2 in a year.

The new product ranges are a large step forward in evolution for the GCCM material class used in the rail sector, and the company is still innovating. Since day one, Concrete Canvas has strived to provide the best material possible for erosion protection with continuous innovation critical to the company’s growth, evolving and moving towards a better, greener, and brighter future for the rail sector.

Visit CC at RailLive stand E13.