Track Renewal – Birkenhead North

At Birkenhead North Station on MerseyRail a section of track running along Platform 1 was identified as requiring a full track renewal to increase the reliability at the station and on the Wirral Line.

The core works to replace the Up Platform Loop were planned for a 52hr weekend possession supported by Engineering Trains. Two weeks prior to commencement one train was no longer available meaning the delivery plan had to be changed to ensure the works could still proceed.

With detailed planning and logistics, the materials that were being delivered by road were lifted into the worksite using a large hiab crane from the station car park.

Prior to the core weekend, access was available on midweek nights for setting out and to establish design control along with taking some plant to site and stable on an unused siding running along the Up Platform Loop.

The core weekend saw the removal of existing track by cutting into smaller panels for ease of transport back to the RRAP, excavation of all ballast into engineering trains, installation of sand geotextile, installation of bottom ballast graded using 3D & GPS enabled dozer, loose laid softwood sleepers, installation of jointed track followed by top ballast.

Follow up works included CRT Management, follow up and quality tamping, installation of check rails and installation of Lateral Resistance Plates (LERPS).

Along with the scope at Birkenhead North, some curved rails were replaced at New Brighton while sleeper replacements and tamping took place at West Kirby also on the Wirral Line.

All track renewal works were supported by our fleet of On Track Plant meaning all works were self-delivered which resulted in excellent feedback from all stakeholders including our client AMCO Giffen, MerseyRail and Network Rail despite the late changes to the plan.

Tottenham High Road Bridge

The existing bridge over Tottenham High Road was approaching the end of its working life and was identified by Network Rail as a structure that needed to be replaced over a blockade during Christmas 2014.

To de-risk the blockade works the new track panels were prefabricated on the new bridge off site to reduce the physical site works. All materials were supplied loose and built up to the design. The
site scope included the removal of the existing track and bottom ballast to enable the old bridge to be removed. The new bridge complete with track panels on deck was installed into its final position followed by the track infill works.

Infill panels were built up from loose materials and top ballast installed using on track plant. Once all the rail was in place, welding, stressing and tamping took place in advance of the works being successfully handed back on time.

Track monitoring and a follow up tamp were also carried out upon completion of the blockade. Difficult weather conditions and logistical challenges were overcome by careful planning and collaborative working with our client.

New Cross Gate LOCIP Depot

The scope of this project included minor civils, P-Way, ETE (third rail) and OLE to enable re-modelling of the existing depot layout including the supply of safety critical staff for the project.

Civil Engineering
Driver walkways, OLE bases, cable management routes & temporary hop-ups.

Permanent Way
Relocation of buffer stops and stripping out existing track to allow service diversions. Extension of the wheel lathe and heavy cleaning building, including installation of a new bogey turntable.

The scope also included the installation of 28nr IBJs to accommodate the signalling upgrade and a new CV40 turnout. Slab track was installed within the maintenance shed and outside.

To facilitate the Permanent Way and Civils scope, modifications were required to both the OLE and Third Rail including the movement of conductor rail for walkway installation and extension of the OLE to the carriage wash road and headshunt.

George Street, Blackburn

The existing FHR4 Br 28 was in poor condition throughout with extensive corrosion and section losses to metallic elements. The main works consisted of infilling the structure and the removal of the remaining steel sections.

To facilitate the main works, Pod-Trak undertook the removal of the existing track and reinstallation following the infill. Prior to core weekend, the new track alignment for the Up and Down Goods Loop and the East Lancs Siding was set out.

During the core possession works the existing track was removed with all serviceable materials stored on site for installation following the infill. Once removed, Pod-Trak left site for 12hrs while works continued.

On return and following the infill, bottom ballast levels were verified and reinstatement of the Up and Down Goods Loop along with the East Lancs Siding commenced under very tight timescales.

Following the track reinstatement, top ballast was installed in advance of a tamper passing through. All works were successfully delivered in the core weekend with the line open to traffic as

Follow up tamping visits and ballast top up took place the week after to ensure track geometry was correct. Prior to handback of possessions, all quality checks, as built surveys and track handback
were completed by Pod-Trak and submitted to the client CRE.

All works were supported by Pod-Trak Plant and safely delivered on time and to budget.

MerseyRail Stressing

Following the completion of platform improvement works across MerseyRail, Pod-Trak were contracted to carry out restressing workings at five stations across the network.

All the sites were through tight platform areas with constrained RoTR possession access of 5hrs reduced to 4hrs working time taking into consideration the isolation of the 3rd Rail.

Many of the sites had been attempted previously by others but issues such as sleepers being stuck to the pads and seized clips led to numerous abortive shifts. Pod-Trak were engaged by AMCO
to offer a viable solution and complete the sites in question.

To avoid any issues on site, each location was surveyed in advance and a lessons learned session held with AMCO to ensure previous issues could be resolved. A schedule of preparation works
was drawn up and planned to take place before the actual stressing to ensure that all unclipping and rail pulling could be carried out.

Along with carrying out the physical works on site, Pod-Trak Engineering staff completed the Form A-G, CRT Assessment and Stressing Certificate at each location for submission back to the
client CRE.

The key to successful delivery of the works was engagement with the client to understand the problem, carrying out key preparatory works, briefing of the teams and assigning a consistent delivery team.

DLR Booted Sleepers

A large number of existing booted sleepers were identified as being life expired and posed a risk to the operation of the service. DLR approached Pod-Trak to carry out a Design & Build solution and act as Principal Contractor.

In total there were 800 sleepers identified to be replaced on the BEC Link Viaduct between Poplar and Westferry stations. All locations were surveyed and designed prior to the commencement of works
on site with detailed communications between DLR and Pod-Trak to ensure transparency throughout the process.

The works were carried out over a combination of three 52 hour possessions and midweek engineering hours. During the midweek shifts the working time on track was limited to 2.5 hours and in this short time up to 12 sleepers were changed out by two teams.

The works also included the installation of a new CV40 crossover and replacement of six expansion switches. All the works were successfully completed without any lost time, incidents or accidents.

With careful planning alongside the DLR maintenance teams, the works were delivered without any impact on the routine maintenance across the network and ensured longevity of the track to reduce any future operational risks.

MerseyRail restressing and installing closure rail – Aigburth

Pod-Trak was contracted to carry out restressing works post the platform improvement works on the Mersey Rail Network carried out by Amco Giffen. All the sites are through tight platform areas with an extremely constrained RoTR possession access regime of five hours at weekends with as little as four-hour working times with the isolation of the conductor rail taken in to account.

Many of the sites had previously been attempted by others but issues such as sleepers being stuck to the pads and seized clips had led to numerous abortive shifts, we were then engaged to see if we could offer a viable solution to the problematic sites.

One of these sites was Aigburth where stressing had been attempted previously by another contractor and failed in addition a defect weld was left in situ which also had to be removed. Once we were engaged to carry out the works, we sat with Amco to ensure we were aware of the previous issues encountered and had a copy of the lessons learned. We then set about planning the works and identified through the lessons learned and site survey that we would require some minor prep works which included 2no nights of freeing up the clips and lifting and lowering the rail to ascertain the extent of the problem, with the prep complete we were ready for the core works which were agreed for week 36.

The team were briefed on the activities and the task managers made aware of their responsibilities.

Prior to getting the possession in week 36 we carefully laid out all the smalls and tools along the platform in readiness for being granted the worksite.

The possession was granted at 0125 and the worksite and isolation at 0155 Sunday.

The task teams then set about the tasks with the Stress Tech calculating the required extension and instructing the welders accordingly.

The rail defect was cut out and the new rail installed using ironmen, the first cold weld was then tapped, after enough cooling the rail was set on rollers stressing kit was set up and the new rail and extent of the stressing(250m) pulled to 27 degrees.

The teams then clipped up the full extent of the works whilst the welders tapped the tensor weld, the final weld being tapped at 0315.

The clipping up was complete by 0345 and the final weld ground off by 0425.

The site team were off and clear with the platform swept clean by 0515.

The key to the success of this relatively minor piece of work was engagement with the client to understand the problem, carry out key preparatory works, briefing of the teams and assigning task managers and of course a consistent team.

Docklands Light Railway Midweek Nights Campaign re-railing

Pod-Trak is the team of choice for Docklands Light Railway (DLR) packages of rerailing, renewing life expired sections of rail in an extremely constrained access both for engineering hours and location.

The works are undertaken in a ‘campaign’ style – concentrating on and completing sections at a time while minimising the operational impact to the extremely busy Docklands Light Railway network.

Our highly skilled team, led by our PM Dave Crofton, collaboratively plans all aspects of the renewals programme from the material ordering to the final ultra-sonic inspection of the welds we install.

This collaborative approach saves time both in the contract administration and delivery on the ground to sectional completion and final account defect free.

Our skilled team oversees all aspects of the delivery including the delivery and collection of the new and scrap rails from some very tricky East London Locations and all around the Docklands area. This takes meticulous planning and engagement with local authorities and residents something our team manage extremely well along with the client.


A typical Engineering hours rerailing shift starts with the team receiving a take 5 briefing and TBs with the regular team all actively participating and recording the take 5 conversations and any good/close calls on our POD App which is monitored daily for any recurring issues/trends.

With the team fully briefed and limbered up – it was time to get started – below is a typical timeline of events;

  • Possession granted at 01:46(16 late)
  • LEP – Local Earth Protection in place 01:51
  • Last nights temp clamped joints x6 welded 02:00-03:45
  • Install 2no pairs 18.288 rails 02:00-03:30
  • Temporary clamped joints fully torqued and checked 03:30-03:50
  • All staff off clear of track with final checks complete and LEP removed 03:55.
  • Possession fully handed back 0400

Outputs each night 2no pairs new 18.288 rails installed, 6no temporary clamped joints removed and welded by 2no teams welders.

This timeline is practically the same night after night achieved by exactly the same people doing exactly the same tasks night after night – four nights every week. The team is proud of their consistency and quality produced and are passionate about achieving TOC in a timely fashion.

To date, this is reflected in a delighted client night after night with us completely invisible to the DLR 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

CP5 MFF Anglia Bridges

Pod-Trak were contracted to undertake the Permanent Way works in connection with replacement of existing Steel Bridge Decks on Anglia Route.

The bridges involved are rail over road bridges in East London on the Network Rail Line from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness.

Pod-Trak, in close collaboration with the client, developed a suitable methodology and programme of work to enable each deck replacement to be achieved within a suitable Possession, while minimising any disruption that could potentially be caused on this busy route.

Creating an effective process
At each structure the existing Track and Formation was removed by Pod-Trak and the site handed over to specialised contractors for the Deck Replacement works. On completion of the Bridge Deck Replacement works Pod-Trak installed the following:

  • Back of Wall Drainage
  • Formation
  • Sleepers
  • Rail

Each of these elements were installed to be integrated with the in-situ infrastructure.

Pod-Trak also managed all Rail Welding / Stressing and Tamping works in order to deliver a high quality finish to relevant Network Rail standards.

As an integral part of our works, the Pod-Trak team undertook Critical Rail Temperature (CRT) Management and Track Monitoring to ensure the safety of the operational railway.