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Spencer Group: In the spotlight

Spencer Group

Spencer Group

Spencer Group is one of the UK’s largest privately owned multidisciplinary engineering businesses, providing pioneering engineering solutions to a range of sectors, from transport and infrastructure to the industrial and energy industries.

With their 20+ strong, in-house, multidisciplinary design team, the group has an excellent reputation for delivering high quality schemes and has built up a varied portfolio of projects for valued clients.

Three recent projects for Spencer Group include Wessex Package 7, the Hackney Interchange project and the East Kent Re-signalling project. Keen to find out more about the projects, Rail Construction News recently caught up with Spencer Group Project Directors Steve Melvin, James Renwick and Adrian Kilburn, to get the inside story on the schemes.

Spencer Group

The first of the projects – Wessex Package 7 – was implemented to increase train capacity on commuter routes in the Wessex region by lengthening platforms to accommodate ten-car trains. The project included extending platforms at 50 stations on the Wessex Route, alterations to existing infrastructure, track realignment work and relocation of signals and associated apparatus.

Wessex Package 7 saw the renewal of 1,000m of plain line track, the installation of 30km of cabling, the upgrade of 11 DNOs and the installation of 14 troughing routes. The project involved 4,000 hours of booked and managed disruptive possessions.

Through value engineering, Spencer Group designed and developed a unique method of constructing the platform extensions that saved more than £2m. The new GRP platforms were designed so that they could be installed without the need for disruptive possessions – saving thousands of man hours and significantly reducing risks at dozens of busy locations.

Spencer Group were asked by Network Rail to accelerate parts of the project, specifically to ensure enhanced passenger capacity at strategic locations would be available in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Spencer Group complied and the result was a smoother travelling experience for all who attended the games by rail.

Spencer Group

Design work and initial surveys began on the project in late 2011, with ground works beginning in April 2012. At present, Wessex Project 7 is substantially complete, with all platforms operational and lines open.

Steve Melvin, Spencer Group Project Director, said:

“The biggest challenge was co-ordinating all the various disciplines, essentially where we had disruptive possessions and ensuring construction of key elements were delivered on time. We had a number of commissioning weekends throughout the project, in particular towards the tail-end of 2013, which were very intensive and required a high level of commitment from the project team. We also had some fairly tricky locations where we had to install bridge structures over existing roads and public footways. This involved a few awkward crane lifts, but I’m pleased to say they were all completed on time and safely without delays to train services.”

This project has been a major achievement for us and one of the biggest packages of work we have ever undertaken and likewise one of the biggest packages that Network Rail has attempted as well in the South East. It has been a big success all-round.”

The Hackney Interchange project, funded by Transport for London, Network Rail and Hackney Council, was initiated to provide direct access between Hackney Downs and Hackney Central stations. The project involved the installation of a 200m long steel walkway connection, including step-free access between Hackney Central Station and Hackney Downs Station.

Work began on the scheme in September 2014 and reached completion in July 2015, finishing with landscaping works and the reinstatement of the residents carpark, which were previously being used as a site compound.

Spencer Group

James Renwick, Spencer Group Project Director said:

“Hackney Central is on the North London line and Hackney Downs is on the Anglia line. TfL has recently taken over the Anglia lines and this scheme was implemented to provide direct access between the two stations, so that passengers no longer have to travel via the streets to get to each station.

“Working on a scheme like this has been very important. Improving access at stations is a huge part of the current rail works taking place in London.

“Most of the projects that are underway, of the size and scale that Spencer Group would be involved with, are related to improving access, such as walkways and interchanges and this is another great example.”

Part of the project was the temporary removal of the children’s play park, which Spencer Group decided to relocate and completely refurbish with new turf, gates and the latest play equipment, enabling the park to be used throughout the life of the project.

With work on Wessex Package 7 and the Hackney Rail project complete, work remains on the East Kent Re-signalling project, the third of Spencer Group’s three recent schemes. Work began on the project in September 2013 and is scheduled for completion in Easter 2016.

The £145 million project comprises the upgrade of 33 miles of East Kent railways, encompassing re-signalling works, track works and civil works. Spencer Group is involved in the civil engineering works on the project, which is valued at £25 million.

Adrian Kilburn, Spencer Group Project Director, said:

“Our works include a new access-for all station at Rochester a new loop line including a new rail bridge. We have also been involved in the creation of a new platform at Rainham, as well the extension of platforms at Strood and Sole Street Stations and the installation a new foot bridge at Alyesford.”

Whilst working on the new station at Rochester, Adrian’s team installed a pedestrian subway at the new Rochester station, making use of compressed nitrogen to achieve their objective. It is thought to be the first subway slide of its kind, using this technology, in the UK.

Adrian said:

“We constructed the new subway off-line, then during Easter 2014, we slid the subway into place, excavating through the embankment in order to do this. We jacked the subway up then we used compressed nitrogen to slide the subway into place.”

Works on the project also includes the demolition of eight signal boxes.

Whilst work is taking place on the project, the existing railway remains in operation, with Spencer Group taking possession where necessary.

Adrian added:

“I’m local to the area, so working on a system that improves transport up to London is great.

“It’s a good job to be involved with, with lots of challenges and lots of different aspects of engineering works.”

Spencer Group, on the back of these successful projects, continues to secure rail works throughout the country. Recently awarded contracts at Finsbury Park and Reading Train Care Depot for London Underground and First Great Western, respectively, demonstrate Spencer’s ability to develop and deliver innovative solutions for their transport and infrastructure clients.

For further information about Spencer Group, please visit:

Access Design & Engineering

 Access Design & Engineering (ADE) specialise in the design, manufacture and installation of GRP rail platforms as well as structures such as GRP ballast retention walls, location cabinets, drivers walkways, debris screens and the end of platform gates and fences.

ADE are part of the Lionweld Group which has been in operation for over 100 years. Access Design & Engineering has been in the rail industry for over 15 years and has over 120 rail platform installations to its name.

ADE has worked alongside Spencer Group on a number of projects and has most recently supported them on the Wessex Line package 7, which included the design and supply of GRP decking systems for over 40 stations.

Ian Kirkup from ADE commented:

“We worked very closely on this project with Spencer group and got involved in the early stages of design which ensured that all interfaces between the various trades were managed correctly and the programme was delivered on time.

“ADE is a professional company which prides itself on delivering a quality product, on time, to budget in a safe manner. Being part of the Lionweld Group has given ADE the opportunity to develop and invest in other areas and has achieved CE marking status for its steel fabrication facility. The Group are also implemented BIM into the group through 2015 and have recently commissioned a new state of the art GRP facility, as well as installing a new steel grating machine at its Middlesbrough factory.”

Precision Projects

 Precision Projects, roofing, cladding and façade specialist building envelope contractors, have over 390 years’ experience in the industry delivering a range of projects for high profile clients. The team work closely with clients to provide innovation from the earliest design stages through to final installation.

By embracing the latest construction methods including off-site technology the firm are able to provide the most cost-effective solutions design, manufacture and installed to the highest standards in the industry.

The firm comprise a highly skilled workforce and expertise in a variety of specialist services to provide a first class roofing and cladding service for commercial and industrial customers nationwide.

Recently the firm have worked on a number of projects for Spencer Group including New Cross Gate Depot where the firm worked on the wheel lathe and heavy clean building extension as well as undertaking the maintenance facility building extension work.

The firm also delivered Hackney Central Connection Footbridge at Hackney Interchange, as well as a new footbridge, staircase and lift shafts at Kirkstall Forge Train Station. Precision have also assisted Spencer Group construct the main station building and lift shafts to the platforms at Rochester Train Station.

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