The railway between Didcot and Oxford, which carries more than 100 passenger services and 40 freight trains a day, was closed on Monday 3 April after significant movements in the viaduct were detected and the 160-year-old viaduct was forced to close for emergency repairs.
Appointed via Network Rail’s Western Reactive Framework, we mobilised a team of approximately 800 people who worked nearly 60,000 hours to deliver a long-term fix to the viaduct.
This involved building a jetty in the River Thames to temporarily support the bridge deck enabling the team to rebuild the bridge's foundations. In the final week of the major project, the 150-tonne bridge was lowered onto the new abutment and a new embankment built, before the railway tracks and cables were put back in place.
The project was a great showcase of our in-house capabilities, with support from our Rail Systems, Rail Plant, Rail Design and Engineering teams and piling advice from our Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering business.
Traditionally, it can take up to three years to develop a solution for a scheme of this complexity, however, our team delivered the works in a ten-week programme, handing back the railway line one day ahead of schedule.
We achieved this by establishing a ‘one team’ ethos with our customer and supply chain partners, meeting daily to review the project programme and identify potential risks or delays together. We also developed a procurement process with Network Rail to fast-track approvals, allowing us to mobilise each package of work quickly and efficiently.
Due to the closure of the rail line, there was a reduced number of passengers visiting Culham Station so to help compensate the loss of trade, we supported a local SME by offering our crews a ‘meal deal’ from their kitchen.