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Reading Station sees offsite construction speed up revamp and boost safety

Lakesmere worked closely with Bourne Steel to deliver an integrated package on the new platform canopies and soffits at Reading Station.

As part of the work on the redevelopment of Reading Station, Lakesmere is working with Bourne Steel to create the new platform canopies offsite, in addition to traditional roofing works to the entrance buildings and the façade cladding installation to the platform buildings.

Lakesmere is using its offsite construction experience to deliver the most appropriate solution for the £7.9m redevelopment, as part of a project team headed by a Costain/Hochtief joint venture.

Working towards an integrated package

Initially the canopies were specified as separate packages for the structural steelwork and the roof canopies and soffits.

But having worked with Bourne on a previous rail project, Lakesmere believed that by collaborating at the earliest design stage, the structural steel and roofing packages could be integrated into a single package.

“We decided that the Reading Station canopies could be manufactured entirely offsite”

The company worked closely with the Bourne team, sharing and reviewing information at every stage, to make sure each team understood the details and constraints of the two individual packages. From this Lakesmere was able to design one integrated solution.

Rather than operate two individual packages, which would have inevitably resulted in significant disruption to rail passengers as well as potential issues with logistics and health and safety, it was decided that the Reading Station canopies could be manufactured entirely offsite.

Offsite construction accommodates variation

Lakesmere created a sophisticated production facility, similar to those used in car manufacturing, to assemble more than 430 individual platform canopy modules complete with the steel support structure, cantilevered standing seam roof and soffits.

Although efficiencies are often available through standardisation when manufacturing offsite, each of the Reading modules varies in both size and configuration.

To accommodate these differences, the ‘match assembly’ manufacturing process was sequenced to ensure the ‘right first time’ alignment of all components during installation.

“We created a sophisticated production facility, similar to those used in car manufacturing, to assemble more than 430 individual platform canopy modules”

The programme needed two sizes of module ranging from one to three tonnes in weight, to be produced in specific sequences for just-in-time delivery to site.

To accommodate variations in size and configuration, a fully adjustable production line incorporating nine workstations was created, capable of producing four 5 m-long modules and up to three 17 m-long modules in a day.

Cold- and hot-rolled components were ‘part marked’ to ensure compatibility. The assembled canopy modules were uniquely identified and matched to the adjacent module prior to undergoing detailed checks for fit in a setting-out area incorporated into the production line.

Here the client had the opportunity to carry out pre-installation quality audits rather than site audits, which are often more difficult to undertake.

Reducing the need for working at height

Lakesmere managed to significantly reduce the need for working at height onsite by factory-installing around 13,000 sq m of standing seam into the canopies. This minimised the safety issues and potential delays as a result of bad weather.

Major refurbishment works at a station as busy as Reading can cause serious disruptions to the network.

However, because much of the structural fabrication and roof installation was done offsite, the modules only needed to be delivered ‘just in time’, zipped together and bullnoses installed.

This increases programme certainty while minimising the risks during the works for both the construction team and the rail users.

Lakesmere’s work forms part of the wider project to create five new platforms and a new pedestrian footbridge at Reading Station, which is an important element of Network Rail’s ambitious £850m programme to transform and update Reading’s rail station and associated infrastructure.

The company’s appointment to work on the Reading Station project is also its second contract to have been secured with Network Rail and follows the company’s use of supply chain partnering and offsite construction techniques to deliver the new train shed roof canopy at Farringdon Station.

Anthony Kirkby is construction director at Lakesmere

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