Huddersfield Sidings – Fraste ML working on 40m borehole in March 2021. 305 working on a 40m in background.

BAM Ritchies is now nearing five years working on the Transpennine Route Upgrade (West) Site Investigation and Ground Investigation works (an ongoing Railway route upgrade project located between Manchester and Leeds)

Blockades have been an integral part of works delivery for sites and activities that cannot be accommodated in standard rules of the route possessions. Largely this work comprises boreholes in areas where the network is tight – namely tunnels and sites where a position within four-foot is the only solution.

Carrying out work in blockades can often be a challenging, stressful and difficult procedure to carry out. The pressure is on the delivery team to ensure that the works are complete within set timescales, safely and without any adverse effect to the railway passenger and infrastructure. With regards to carrying out ground investigation work and the number of unknowns you can encounter, as with any civils project, planning relies on many contingencies being built into the plan at an early stage.

The project itself has achieved many successes since starting works in 2017 and was the recipient of the Ground Engineering Award for Team of the Year in 2021. BAM Ritchies have continually supported the project and have earnt a reputation for the safe, reliable and consistent delivery of works under possession and blockade conditions.

To date BAM Ritchies have now delivered a total of ten blockades, all on time and all with 100 per cent or more delivery of planned works on each blockade. Solid planning, good route knowledge and reliable teams have been key to the successful predictable delivery of these projects.

The ten Blockades were:

  1. Stalybridge Tunnel Boreholes – Christmas 2019 – seven boreholes to depths up to seven metres.
  2.  Scout Tunnel Boreholes – Christmas 2020 – five boreholes to depths up to seven metres.
  3. Huddersfield Station Boreholes – Christmas 2020 – two boreholes to 40 metres.
  4. Huddersfield Sidings – March 2021 – six boreholes to depths of 40 metres during five, 18 hour long blockades of sidings (handed back each night).
  5. Morley Tunnel (Batley Cutting) Boreholes – NOVEMBER 2021 – two boreholes to 20 metres in a 28 hour long Weekend Blockade.
  6. Slaithwaite Viaduct – Christmas 2021 – one borehole to 20 metres and six WS holes to six metres.
  7. Huddersfield Tunnel Boreholes – Christmas 2021 – three boreholes to 15 metres.
  8. Bradley Wood Junction (1) – 1 August Weekend – two boreholes to 30 metres, one to 20 metres.
  9. Bradley Wood Junction (2) – 2 August Weekend – two boreholes to 30 metres, one to 20 metres.
  10. Stalybridge Tunnel – 1 September Weekend – nine boreholes to depths up to 14 metres.

Over 700 metres of boreholes have now been delivered in ten blockades on the project, all meeting or exceeding planned targets and all safely handing back the network on completion. Successful planning and predictable delivery of blockades relies heavily on collaboration, digital review, lean thinking, logistical review and most of all Teamwork. The following nine steps outlines the approach to success on TRU West.

  1. Eliminate all works that can be achieved without blockade being required – BAM Ritchies works with the designers to move positions, achieve same results by other methods where possible. This reduces cost to the project and overall risk.
  2. Reduce works to as practicable as possible – through discussions with the designers, the team can aim to get as much information from as few boreholes as possible, whilst targeting critical features. By putting less work in the blockade, this reduces the pressure on site teams and makes the work more achievable.
  3. Plan early – works are identified as much as twelve months or more in advance. This allows time for possessions to be booked by the rail planning team, resources to be sought, any additional training to be identified and ensure that all contractors are working together to the same aim.
  4. Regular meetings – planning ramps up at twelve weeks out, to ensure that works are successful. Contractors providing rail plant (RRVs), the rail planning team, support staff are involved heavily from this stage, so that all parties know what is required of them and work together.
  5. Preparation on site – possessions are booked in advance of the main works to allow key staff and RRV providers view the site and identify local hazards are identified before the main works commence. In line with NR standards, buried service scans are carried out and services identified.
  6. Water supply – much of the successful delivery of borehole work relies on a plentiful water supply. Shifts leading up to the blockade are used to install water lines from water tankers parked off track.
  7. Reliable methods – the TRU team have worked together to ensure that the site set ups are consistent and work with the plant available. Training shifts, practice lifts and working with reliable RRV partners throughout have led to consistent and successful site set ups on site.
  8. Deconflicting works – during blockades other contractors will also want access to the area. BAM Ritchies works with other contractors to ensure they can access where possible and set up restricted working areas to safely segregate its works from others. These are all fed into the whiteboard information briefed to the larger work force on the blockade by TRU Alliance partner Amey.
  9. Staff – BAM Ritchies has a large number of skilled borehole crews who are used to working on the infrastructure. The crews are selected for the shifts based on their skills and shift times planned to ensure fatigue management is carried out. Travel times are reduced by providing accommodation near to the project for any travelling staff.

With its exceptional rail experience BAM Ritchies has staff involved and engaged from planning to delivery, ensuring Network Rail standards are followed and working hand in hand with the rail planning teams. Hand back engineers are employed through TRU partner Amey to monitor and measure the track at each location to ensure the route is safely handed back to Network Rail on completion of the works.

Company profile
BAM Ritchies is the specialist geotechnical division of BAM Nuttall Ltd. BAM Ritchies started business in Scotland almost 60 years ago in 1963 and is now one of the country’s leading and award winning ground engineering and geotechnical contractors. The organisation employs approximately 300 trained and experienced staff.

BAM Ritchies has a turnover in excess of £60 million carrying out ground investigation, ground engineering, drilling and blasting and concrete techniques: completing contracts up to £30 million
in value.

BAM Ritchies operates UK wide from offices in Kilsyth near Glasgow (Principal Office), Warrington, Nailsea near Bristol, and Godstone in Surrey

Tel: 07740 771075
LinkedIn: BAM Ritchies
Twitter: @BAMRitchies