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Why we must modernise muckaway

With muckaway market demand set to grow significantly over the next three years and EU emissions targets looming, there is a growing need for construction firms to increase the speed and sustainability of their muckaway services.

The conventional wisdom has long been that there is only one way to deliver muckaway: by lorry, into landfill.

However, because construction projects are so diverse, the inflexibility of this traditional muckaway method can cause problems.

For example, the underground infrastructure we need is increasingly intricate, and the scale and logistical complexity of tunnelling projects is therefore increasing.

Crossrail muckaway

Effective muckaway was a key component in the successful recent completion of Crossrail tunnelling.

We believe industry innovation can solve the muckaway challenges we face, especially the effective removal of spoil from central London.

For this reason, in 2012 we founded our Rail Hub project.

The Rail Hub is a network that transports material out of central London by rail to surrounding sites.

“Efficient delivery of muckaway will be central to the success of flagship projects such as Crossrail 2 and HS2”

All of our vehicles are Crossrail-compliant and the destination sites are Crossrail-approved, so the Rail Hub has been used extensively to transport spoil from Crossrail projects including Paddington, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street.

Our destination point at Calvert handled more than 500,000 tonnes of spoil during 2014, and this volume will grow in 2015.

By enabling fewer vehicles to do more work, the Rail Hub removes many of the inefficiencies of traditional spoil removal.

Greater efficiency

At its optimum, the Rail Hub is up to 90 per cent quicker than the traditional method of spoil removal, and it reduced the distance travelled by lorries carrying excavated materials from the Paddington Crossrail site by 250,000 miles.

By removing the need for more than 17,000 road journeys in central London, the Rail Hub has minimised the disruption of sites and of day-to-day life for London businesses, workers and local communities.

Typically, it’s assumed that improvements to a construction process will damage the environment, but the Rail Hub makes muckaway more sustainable.

The spoil it transports is recycled for use on other construction sites, or restored to form part of wildlife conservation projects such as at Wallasea Island in Essex.

The administration of the Rail Hub is also entirely digital, so our logging of where spoil originates from, and its destination, is paperless.

The Rail Hub creates 70 per cent fewer CO2 emissions than the traditional method of spoil removal, helping companies reduce their carbon footprint.

We continue to explore alternative muckaway sites and systems that can improve customer value and enhance sustainability.

Efficient delivery of muckaway will be central to the success of flagship projects such as Crossrail 2 and HS2.

By working in collaboration, there is a real opportunity for construction and plant hire firms to develop a new vision of what’s possible in muckaway, and make it happen.

Mark Kennedy is operations director at Lynch

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