Manchester Metrolink Tram Management System (TMS)

Working for Thales on the Phase 1 & 2 TMS upgrade and Phase 3 new installations, Pod-Trak carried out a multidisciplinary scope of lineside civils and installation of communications systems.

The lineside civil engineering scope included route works, cable installation, UTXs, signal base foundations, CCTV post foundations, driver walkways, hollow bearer sleepers, ballast board retaining walls and light vegetation clearance.

The communications scope included Mesh Radio installation, SPAS beacons, axle counters, fibre network and leaky feeder cable through all the tunnels in the network. In 2012 Pod-Trak installed a new fibre backbone and Masstrip link between the existing depot at Queens Road and the new depot at Trafford.

This scope included routing both cables through the city centre and carrying out all jointing, splicing, testing and terminating.

Upon completion of the works the old Phase 1 and 2 system met the specification of the new modern TMS on Phase 3.

Ilford Crossrail Depot

Ilford Depot was enhanced to accommodate the servicing of new Crossrail trains and the existing Great Eastern rolling stock. Pod-Trak delivered a multidiscipline scope including both OLE and Civil Engineering.

The Civil Engineering scope was delivered within a blockade in the live depot from August to December 2016 followed by working in a high street environment for a further four months.

The works included:

  • Reduced level dig
  • Formation level fill
  • Bottom ballast
  • Walkways
  • Cable routes
  • Storm water track drainage
  • Foul water drainage
  • Concrete bases
  • Concrete slabs & foundations
  • Depot lighting
  • UTXs
  • Ancillary civils

Planning of the works were key to the successful delivery. While both the OLE and Civils were undertaken by Pod-Trak, other contractors were also on site working and all activities had to be carefully planned to ensure all parties could work efficiently.

This was achieved by holding weekly and daily meetings which a representative from each business. Material deliveries were a huge challenge and not only were they subject to the usual booking
process, this could change at short notice if the train operator required access.

With detailed planning and a mix of road and rail deliveries all materials required for the works were delivered on time.

Lostock SATS

Pod-Trak was contracted to construct a new substation at Lostock to support the electrification of the line between Manchester and the West Coast Mainline at Euxton.

Initially the works were being delivered for Carillion, who subsequently went into administration in January 2018. The project was stood down for a period and remaining scope was delivered for Murphy.

A challenging project throughout with most of the work being delivered on PAR Forms due to the lack of an AFC. The substation is located at the end of Lostock Station carpark which remained open through the works and all deliveries had to be planned carefully to avoid peak times.

The substation itself was constructed at high level against an embankment which had to be continuously monitored throughout the duration for signs of movement until eventually a retaining wall was designed and installed.

The scope of works included site clearance, 6F5 infill, drainage, duct routes, transformer bases, substation base, fencing, Armco barriers and guardrails. The retaining wall was added to the scope after the substation building was landed which reduced the working area.

A temporary road was constructed to safely get plant and materials to the work area and complete the installation.

A bespoke cable management design was required to securely route the HV cables from the URX at ground level to the routeworks installed within the compound.

Manchester Metrolink Substations

To cope with the electrical demands of increased traffic on both the Altrincham and Bury lines, a new substation was built on each line to provide additional power for the Trams.

Pod-Trak carried out a multi-discipline scope at each site by completing the design and installation of both the Civils and OLE at Brooklands on the Altrincham Line and Whitefield’s on the Bury Line. The new substations were located within existing car parks.

Careful planning and consideration had to be taken daily for the public who were using the station. The installation works were similar at each site and included piling, substation bases, DNO bases, OLE bases, buried duct routes, UTX’s, trough routes, fencing, paving, Armco barrier, bollard installation and landscaping on Civils.

OLE scope consisted of steel installation, section insulators, GMI installation, bypass isolators, HV feeds, impedance bonding and section proving. Compound works were all carried out on days
while trackside works were delivered over a series of weekend disruptive possessions and midweek engineering hours. OLE foundations were precast at the depot and installed on site with OTP to assist with time constraints.

Heathrow Portal Upgrade

The Elizabeth line will significantly improve links between Heathrow and several central London destinations, significantly increasing demands on Heathrow Express.

Due to the anticipated increase in traffic, we worked collaboratively with Heathrow to update the infrastructure and to alleviate all potential disruptions.

The main issues were addressed through a series of linked work packages which enable Heathrow to continually provide excellent infrastructure availability of 99.75%.

The following scope was undertaken as part of the project:

  • Portal Security Improvement Works
  • Lighting
  • Electrical & Small Power
  • CCTV
  • Car Park – Permeable Paving

Our works included surveys, design, testing for Section 12 compliance and implementation. Pod Trak’s experience and knowledge of Heathrow assisted our client deliver the project without incident, on time and most importantly without disruption to Heathrow passengers.

Barking Riverside Extension (London Overground)

Considered to be a very significant project in London, Pod-Trak was contracted to complete works which would extend the London Overground to make the city more accessible for 10,800 new homes.

The Barking Riverside project is essentially building a new community near to the Thames in East London. In order for these new homes, school and healthcare facilities to function effectively, an effective transport infrastructure system is essential. Pod-Trak focused on providing a rail system to this area, through an extension to the London Overground and commissioned by TfL, who we have a strong long-lasting relationship with.

As part of this project, Pod-Trak is contracted to deliver:

  • A 4.5km extension to Barking Riverside, from the Tilbury Loop Line between Barking and Dagenham Dock stations to Barking Riverside
  • Reconfiguration of Network Rail’s Ripple Lane goods yard to allow the extension to connect to the Tilbury Loop
  • Continuation of the rail system over a new 1.5km viaduct into the heart of Barking Riverside

Laying the foundations for a new future
This project involves an extensive Permanent Way scope, including:

  • Creating a new up a Tilbury Loop and up & down Barking Riverside lines
  • Installation of new double track spur line on the viaduct (slab track circa 1.5km)
  • Installation of new ballasted track
  • Transition section between ballast and slab track
  • Installation of new crossovers
  • Track lubrication and buffer stops
  • Stressing
  • Installation of chainage plates, gradient signs and datum plates

Electrifying the route
London Overground trains are Electric Multiple Units (EMUs), so our team was well-prepared to manage the electrification project as well. The scope of the Traction / Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) works includes:

  • Electrification of the Up & Down Barking Riverside Extension
  • Installation of new series 2 OLE structures and catenary along with RC & EW the route
  • Modifications / replacement to the existing infrastructure
  • Upgrade to West Ham & Barking Feeder Stations
  • New Neutral sections
  • Testing and Commissioning of new Overhead Line Equipment

Civils – General / Ancillary
The benefit of working with Pod-Trak is our adaptability and our versatility. The nature of our business is multi-disciplinary, so we have the ability to complete civils works as well. This means that our teams have a consistent approach to the project. The scope of the civils general / ancillary works includes:

  • Piling / Foundations
  • Breakout and excavation work
  • Foul Drainage and surface water
  • Ducts / trough routes
  • Installation of URX / UTX

North West Electrification Programme (NWEP) – Phase 3 Civils

Our successful Civils works as part of Phase 3 of the North West Electrification programme (NWEP) led to the client coming back for more.

Our work as part of this programme is contributing towards a project which is improving connectivity, journey times and line capacity in the north west of England.

The initial scope included the installation of driver walkways and lighting column foundations at Blackpool Depot Sidings.

The driver walkways were constructed to incorporate sleeves, chambers and ducting to facilitate the installation of 20 lighting columns. All secondary ducting routes were connected back to the primary route to enable cable installation from the distribution point straight to the light. Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) handrails were installed where required.

Further works awarded thanks to successful completion
Following successful completion of the initial works Pod-Trak were awarded further works along the entire NWEP Phase 3 route between Preston and Blackpool.

At various locations along the route, the palisade fencing along the Network Rail boundary was either missing or needed to be replaced. In total over 3km of fencing was installed at a height of 1.8m.

Each section brought its own challenges which were all managed jointly with the client including public interface, working at height and working near open lines.

We have a highly-skilled team which has extensive experience of working in these environments and our collaboration with the client helped the project to run smoothly.

Armco barrier was installed along access roads and around a number of Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) structures as required. A section of drainage was also completed along with the provision of plant to clear redundant materials along the route.

Felixstowe Branch Capacity Enhancement – New Bridge

Safety around the railways is everyone’s biggest priority, so Pod-Trak was tasked to improve safety along the line as part of the Felixstowe Branch Capacity Enhancement project.

Pod-Trak assisted with the construction of the new bridge on the site of the existing Gun Lane level crossing. The purpose of this was to provide an alternative safe route across the railway for walkers, horse riders and cyclists to access the countryside.

The bridge was designed taking into consideration the impact it would have on the environment and its visual appearance in the countryside. This also allowed Network Rail to permanently close six pedestrian level crossings in the Felixstowe Branch area, including Gun Lane, to improve public safety.

Our involvement in this project
Pod-Trak were tasked with the installation of 30 no. bridge foundations, both in situ and precast. The precast foundations ranged from 22 to 35t in weight and could only be installed from one side of the embankment.

Work also included the construction of:

  • Footpaths
  • Drainage
  • Landscaping
  • Grouting
  • Bridge ancillary works

The ancillary works associated with the Bridleway Bridge were completed following the installation of the bridge.

Providing the right solution
Due to the location of the works adjacent to the live loop line each base required a temporary coffer dam installed during possessions. This created programme challenges due to the amount of work required to be carried out during each possession but our experience in completing this helped to ensure it was done safely while not impacting project timings.

2 no. Movax were used, working simultaneously on both sides of the embankment installing sheet piles in order to release midweek works and to ensure all milestones were achieved.

The Project team successfully value engineered the installation of the 28 precast foundations by re-sequencing the lift planning and utilising a 750t crane over three possessions instead of a 500t crane over four possessions.

Amersham Signal Equipment Room

Pod-Trak has completed a variance of projects as part of a scheme to modernise how a major transport provider operates on a daily basis.

For one of these projects, Pod-Trak was required to complete the construction of a Signal Equipment Room (SER) base at Amersham as part of the London Underground/TFL 4 Line Modernisation scheme in North West London.

Pod-Trak undertook the construction of all civils aspects of the project; this included:

  • A temporary piling mat
  • 15 no. CFA piles and pile caps
  • Embankment stairs
  • The installation of a prefabricated steel frame
  • Installation of a walkway
  • Installation of all associated drainage

Pod-Trak also carried out all preparation work for SSE including tree protection, haulage roads and setting up of the site compound.

Challenges and Solutions
Restrictions with space on site and its proximity to the main road adjacent meant that all deliveries had to be scheduled between 7:00am and 8:00am with the SER delivery date being the key programme deliverable driving the completion date.

During the piling works, chalk was discovered at 2m below ground level. As a result the concrete was not achieving its design strength and adaptations were needed in order for this to achieve success.

To alleviate this, casings were used to line the auger but this method added time to an already challenging programme. By carrying out some works concurrently with our team, the delay was avoided.

As a saving to the client and to reduce our environmental impact our Project Engineer proposed to use the excavated material to regrade the embankment.

This was accepted by the client and significantly reduced the number of muck away loads that would have been required.

West Anglia Mainline (WAML)

Project Overview
The West Anglia Mainline (WAML) works involved the construction of a new line between Lea Bridge and the new Meridian Water station to feed a significant new housing development. This work upgraded the existing twin rail to a three line railway.

Our Role
Pod-Trak delivered the multidisciplinary scope of Earthworks, Civils, Permanent Way & OLE. All works were managed and self-delivered by Pod-Trak using our own staff and plant fleet.

Scope of Works
The Permanent Way scope comprised of:

  • 6km of new ballast and track.
  • New S&C Layouts at Lea Bridge and at Meridian Water
  • Slab Trak at tight clearance overbridges
  • Cable Management Sleepers
  • Buffers, RRAPs & Lubricators
  • Guard Rails

The OLE scope for the installation comprised of:

  • Pile and Concrete Foundations
  • Main Steel and SPS
  • Wiring, Registration and Panning
  • Neutral Sections, Section Insulators and Switching
  • Traction Return Bonding
  • HV Cables and MPTSC/FS upgrades
  • Installation of Booster Transformers
  • Section Proving and Commissioning

The Civil Engineering scope comprised of:

  • Reduced Level dig and installation of 6 km’s of a Primary type 1 formation.
  • Removal and reinstatement of soft spots providing CBR, DIN and materials testing at 50 meter intervals.
  • Installation of perforated and carrier track drainage systems and deep surface water drainage systems.
  • Construction of a 330m reinforced earthwork noise attenuation bund
  • Civils & Structures (Bridges 666, 1391 & 1393)
  • 1 Drainage and 5 Utility UTX’s.
  • Culvert strengthening & scour protection works
  • 750 meters of Elevated and Concrete trough works
  • Site Wide Landscaping.
  • Bridge foundation pile cropping to 1100mm CFA piles
  • Bridge sub structure excavation & reinforced concrete works
  • Crane & piling mat construction and removal
  • New deck installation complete with bearings.
  • FRC works to bridge decks.
  • Bridge deck drainage.

Delivering Expertise
The scope included the installation of a new third line required to service the new station at Meridian water, the new line was 5445m in length and was planned to be installed during weekend possessions utilising a Kirow crane to lift in panels end on end. This methodology facilitated an output of 90 panels (circa 1 track mile) per weekend and was successfully implemented for approximately ½ the route up to Tottenham Hale Station.

Immediately south of Tottenham Hale station overbridge 1395 is situated, this bridge had exceptionally tight structure gauge clearances and a previously uncharted watermain  identified during the construction phase. To allow the rail (and its imparted loads) to cross the watermain a new subterranean bridge had to be designed, approved (both Network Rail & Thames Water), and constructed before the track could be laid through the bridge. In effect the new constraint of the watermain and bridge 1395 prevented rail access to the northern ½ of the route, as such our planned construction methodology could not be adopted between Tottenham Hale & Meridian Water.

Pod-Trak were tasked with developing a methodology to lay bottom ballast, sleepers, rail & rail components, top ballast and tamp the rail locked corridor where two access points were available, one at Tottenham Hale and one at Northumberland Park. Due to the significant tonnage of material that had to be imported onto site it was quickly identified that a third access was required, as such a new RRAP was installed at Meridian Water such that it was possible to end feed from the site extremities and also feed from the central access at Northumberland Park. With access defined the following methodologies were deployed to deliver and install the track materials –

Bottom Ballast
Road hauled ballast stock piles created at the three RRAP locations. Ballast loaded from stockpiles into 10T Hydrema dumpers dropping bottom stone from the access to the midpoints between accesses. Bottom stone was loaded out in this way to prevent dumper traffic damage to the track formation.

Bottom Ballast Grading
Grading works was completed in a conventional way utilising a 3D laser dozer and triple wackers.

Sleeper Installation

To eliminate damage to the bottom ballast line and level, sleepers and slave rails were installed end on from rail. Starting from the access points sleepers laid and fine lined, and 60’ rails distributed and installed using McCulloch’s. Sleepers and rails were progressively installed creating a rail access from the new RRAP access points.

Top Ballast
With access now available over the new track top ballast was loaded from the ballast stockpiles into rail mounted dumpers which with their front and side tipping modes, distributed the top stone into the 4’ and cess. With the top stone dropped it was then graded in a conventional manner with RRV and profile bucket.


With the rail access still not available through the mainline at bridge 1395 it was not possible to access a mainline tamper. With this a beaver tamper (lorry loaded) was accessed at Meridian Water which facilitated high quality track consolidation and alignment.

The above access and methodology allowed parallel construction on four work fronts, with each work front progressing towards each other to the centre points of the site. This allowed for all rail systems work to be completed at the same time as the availability of bridge 1395 where a new slab track section was constructed to join the two halves of the railway. With the railway now continuous to the mainline continuously welded rails were dropped by train and the slave rails replaced to allow the commissioning and entry into service on time and on programme.

Before commencement of foundation works, Pod-Trak conducted trial holes at every location and UXO probed where required. A percentage of the piling works were installed off track utilising a tracked machine and some on track using an RRV. At certain locations, we liaised with the designer to assist with solutions for bespoke concrete foundations where piles could not achieve the required depth, which were installed by Pod-Trak once temporary works and updated WPP had been established and implemented.

Due to numerous issues with the pile locations, the Main Steel was not ordered until RECOS’s had been confirmed, which assisted the project commercially and avoided programme constraints. Some of the new Main Steel had to interconnect with the existing structure within the Station areas, which had to be staged to reduce the disruption to the train timetables.

Installation of the SPS and supports were completed as the Main Steel was erected, with Cantilevers secured to avoid damage and risk of injury. The Cantilever supports would only be released once the conductors were being installed and secured across to existing OLE to avoid erratic movement. The Catenary and Contact for all wire runs were installed in possessions, as the risk was too high with live adjacent lines to run with ALO. Once installed, construction earths were applied, with a register being maintained until completion.

The aerial earth wire and return conductor installation were undertaken midweek under ALO due to the conductors being run with minimal tension, located on the CESS side of the new structures. Pod-trak deployed additional wire watchers with back-to-back radios to ensure the conductors did not snag. Upon completion of installation of the conductors, the team completed registration during midweek days under ALO, with the exception of a few locations being in close proximity to the existing live OLE. These locations were placed on our register for possession works only and labelled on site to ensure a clear demarcation was in place.

The Stage 1 works to re-configure Coppermill MPTSC was complex due to the different lines it fed and the distance to carry the new HV feeds. New portal structures were installed to carry the existing OLE. Once installed the existing structures were removed along with all the cross track and along track feeds from Coppermill TSC. Pod-Trak held meetings with Romford ECRO and Network Rail Distribution to arrange the feed diversions to allow Coppermill TSC to be isolated for a number of weeks. In total Pod-Trak installed 9 new 25Kv HV cables (Circa 1000M) in elevated troughing and through 2 UTX’s. The traction return bonding throughout the project was staged with temporary bonds applied to numerous items for other disciplines and our own temporary bonds to the Lea Valley
Reverse (LVR) line to maintain continuity. A bonding register was compiled and maintained throughout and was integrated with the final bonding plan to ensure all details was captured including Civils, Signalling, M&E and OLE. The main bonding was prepared in advance of the final signalling stage and all connected over a single commissioning weekend.

Once the tie in at Lea Bridge was installed, Pod-Trak delivered the section proving of the LVR, which included numerous switch operations over the 6.5km new line. The section proving document went through various checks before being authorized, with numerous visits to Romford ROC to discuss with the ECRO.

Several walkouts were attended prior to energisation with the Network Rail team and the Maintainer to ensure any outstanding works and/or snags were captured to avoid
repeated site attendance.

For the handback, we split Stage 3 into A & B to enable a faster return of handback documents, which included;

  • Quality check sheets for each task on every structure
  • Red line drawings (cross sections, allocation sheets and layouts)
  • All the material compliance records.

Once submitted and accepted, the agreed ITP was finalised. The new equipment installed was Series 2, which was a first in the area for the maintainer. We procured the appropriate spares for the team and held a training day with their staff to explain the main differences.

Health, Safety & Welfare
We were actively involved with ‘What Good Looks Like’, which was delivered every Friday on the project for all to attend, to listen to how each discipline was performing. The main purpose of this, was to highlight any errors from Close Calls and how this was rectified to make good.