When working on the redevelopment of Nottingham Train Station, M&E contractor Imtech had to navigate several challenges including working on a listed building, handling the needs of multiple shareholders and working around a live station.
Managing complex interfaces, minimising disruption to passengers and working around a live station are just some of the challenges facing the contractors working on the £60m refurbishment and extension of Nottingham Train Station.
Imtech G&H is working with main contractor Taylor Woodrow on the project, and is aiming to create a new transport hub that can handle seven million passengers a year.
Imtech is installing the M&E systems including lighting, power, heating, air conditioning and the building management system.
“It’s a £60m redevelopment of an Edwardian Grade II-listed site that was built in 1904,” says Imtech G&H senior project manager Damien Harrison.
“The project involves building new platforms, putting in a new concourse, the refurbishment of the old station buildings and building a new over-bridge that links the new tram stops with the car park,” he says.
“There is also some East Midlands resignalling work going on at the station. It is renewing six miles of track in August and September this year, which includes laying new track through the station, building a new platform and installing 143 new signals.”
The first challenge for the team is to create a modern, sustainable transport hub within the confines of a Grade II-listed building.
“All the work needed to be sympathetic to what was already at the station. Everything needs to be related back to the appearance and aesthetics of the original buildings, but still creating a modern, sustainable building that will still be operational in 30 years’ time,” says Mr Harrison.
A very important consideration for the project team, and one that is specific to rail projects, was managing the interfaces between the train operator, Network Rail and the station.
“All the work needed to be sympathetic to what was already at the station; everything needs to be related back to the appearance and aesthetics of the original buildings”
Damien Harrison, Imtech
“East Midlands is the train operator for the station, and it has systems that are integrated across the region such as emergency lighting systems. Then Network Rail has other systems that are also across a network.
“They need to be able to pick up a telephone that links to a specific signal, so integrating the new systems into the existing network is a huge challenge,” says Mr Harrison.
“To tackle this we used early, rigorous design, and a lot of communication.”
Aside from Midland Trains and Network Rail, the project has several other stakeholders that need to be informed of progress and any changes to the design.
“One of the ways we’ve achieved this is through regular review meetings with the key stakeholders. There is an alliance board made up of all the main stakeholders, so any discrepancies or changes to work throughout the proposition were taken to the board and signed off,” says Mr Harrison.
“This ensured everyone got a voice and was brought along as part of the process.”
Work to minimise passenger disruption
Minimising disruption is always one of the main considerations for contractors when working on transport projects and the work at Nottingham is no exception.
“All of this work has been carried out while the station remains operational. We make sure we’re communicating all the time,” says Mr Harrison.
“Working on a station that is still in use presents a whole new set of challenges. We had to apply a new level of awareness and stringency to how we plan and what we do.
“Every day we communicate what we plan to do that day and at the end of every shift it’s signed off to say we completed the work we said we would”
Damien Harrison, Imtech
“Every day we communicate what we plan to do that day and at the end of every shift it’s signed off to say we completed the work we said we would.”
Planning is vital to ensuring that when disruption is occurring, passengers are aware of it in advance and can plan around it.
“Planning and communications at all levels is essential. We ensure we plan early for any disruption and communicate that effectively through the right channels so people can plan for them,” says Mr Harrison.
Operating in a live station also restricts when work can be carried out.
“We are restricted from working in certain areas any time apart from between midnight and 5am so we only have a small window to carry out some work,” says Mr Harrison.
Considerations specific to rail
There are stringent health and safety and operational procedures when working on rail projects.
“Designers, project managers and workers all need rail-specific qualifications to show they are aware of their impact on the project and also its impact on them,” says Mr Harrison.
Despite having prior experience on projects of this type, the Imtech team still learnt a lot while working on the refurbishment of Nottingham Train Station.
“We’ve learnt masses working on this project – as well as rail-specific competencies and systems, there are lessons learnt from working with so many stakeholders’ objectives and how we get the best fit for them all,” says Mr Harrison.
“We needed to find the best engineering solution while being sympathetic to the heritage of the site and the station’s use of the next 30 years.”