Tuesday 2 Mar 2004


Region & Route:
The North West Structures Alliance (NWSA), a partnership between Network Rail and Edmund Nuttall Ltd has recently completed a £1.1m embankment stabilisation scheme at Beeston, Cheshire on the Crewe to Chester line. The work was identified by specialist ground investigation techniques that involved collating data from instrumentation buried in the ground. This enabled Network Rail to monitor the work site and enable the project team to plan work in advance so as not to disrupt passenger services on the railway. A 500-metre section of embankment was targeted for repair work.  The stabilisation option chosen was to undertake a minor re-grading of the site. Gabion baskets, which are metal cases filled with rocks, were used at the bottom of the slope for extra support to the embankment and the track. There were three main environmental constraints that had to be considered before the work could begin.  Firstly access to the site was limited due to the River Gowey running very close to the access track. This problem was overcome by liasing with the Environment Agency to allow the NWSA to install temporary piles into the riverbank that would support the large construction machinery required for such a complicated scheme. - more - Beeston - 2 Secondly prior to any work being undertaken a survey of the site was carried out over the whole area to ensure that the work would cause no environmental damage. This survey revealed the presence of badgers within the worksite; licences were obtained to enable the team to work round the badgers in such a way as not to disturb them. A variety of orchid was also discovered and although common, it was rare to the area. These were transplanted outside the worksite. Finally the site was surrounded by a local area of beauty named Foxy Wood, and the NWSA had to gain permission from the Environment Agency and local council to undertake any work as the area was a site of biological interest (SBI). English Bluebells, which are a protected plant, were found in this area. These had to be harvested and stored for replanting at the appropriate time of year. Once these issues were resolved a10 week daytime programme began which did not affect train movements and nighttime closure of the railway took place only when the trains were not running. Long reach excavators or long armed JCB vehicles were used to undertake the works with the installation of the gabion baskets ongoing at the same time, therefore splitting the sites up into sections that were safe to work in.   Finally the new slopes were top soiled and a fertiliser matt was laid to ensure the growth of vegetation to the embankment to give more stability in the years to come. Following completion of the work Network Rail Scheme Project Manager, Stephen Townley said: “This was an extremely complex scheme to undertake; there were many factors that had to be considered in order for the job to run smoothly and safely.  It’s a great achievement for us to have completed this work on time and within budget, without disrupting passenger services or the surrounding environment.”

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