Keeping on track with rail innovation

June 26th, 2014 Posted in: Business Development

Paul Mann, Lakesmere Sales Director

The increase in expenditure has brought with it new opportunities, as the tier 1 contractors look to address supply and capacity issues, as well as maximising the technical expertise available by working more closely with specialists such as the Lakesmere Group. However making the most of these opportunities is not without its challenges and understanding the sector and particularly the needs of the clients is paramount. To achieve this and to go the distance in the rail sector, specialists needs to innovate, collaborate and adapt – but how does this work in practice?

Innovate

One of the biggest challenges faced by those working in the rail sector is the need to complete works safely, quickly and with the minimum amount of disruption. As construction often takes place while stations and rail lines remain operational, it is not uncommon for most of the work to be done at night but increasingly what clients really want and indeed, what the success of a project often needs is for a more innovative approach to be taken. Specialists need to look beyond the obvious and find ways to add value. Off-site construction provides the ideal solution and manufacturing the products in a factory environment not only improves quality control but also enables the installation process to be completed without delay and with greater accuracy. When the daily commute and leisure plans of millions of people depend on its infrastructure, the success of a rail project is completely reliant on it being delivered on time and on budget.

Collaborate

BIM is set to play a major role in the ongoing development of the UK’s rail infrastructure and Lakesmere has itself just secured a new level 2 BIM contract to work on the new southern entrance at Leeds Station in Yorkshire. Driving innovation through collaborative working practices like BIM is essential and is one area that the specialist sector needs to continue to invest and develop. Quite often the new rail station developments also feature a large mixed-use element, and the ability to showcase expertise in working on different interfaces and being able to work well with other trades are essential.

Adapt

Ensuring the highest level of health and safety compliance and training is vital, particularly for work track-side. However its important to remember that even work on stations that aren’t yet operational is not without its challenges. For example, much of Lakesmere’s current work in the rail sector is focussed on several new Crossrail Stations in London, with each project presenting its own unique challenges such as work underground, overground in high-traffic suburban areas and in the case of the Canary Wharf Crossrail station, underwater, as the site is completely surrounded by the River Thames. The ability to adapt to meet the demands of different site footprints and different environmental conditions is a challenge that not all will be able to rise to but its an unavoidable reality of working on today’s modern, urban rail network. It might not be an easy ride but Lakesmere is thrilled to be on board!

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