Crossrail Surface Works: Acton Dive-Under

Crossrail Surface Works: Acton Dive Under

CEEQUAL Excellent (80.8%) – Whole Project Award + Interim
Version 4, June 2017 | London, England

Client: Network Rail / Crossrail Ltd
Designer: Atkins Ltd
Contractor: BAM Nuttall

Assessors: Niall Gibbons (Network Rail), Colin Cartwright (Atkins), Neil Goulding (BAM Nuttall)

Project summary

Acton Dive-Under is the first Network Rail Surface Works project on the Crossrail Programme to receive an Excellent CEEQUAL Whole Team Award, scoring 80.8%. After nearly three years of construction, the complex project is now substantially complete. The dive-under has been built to allow fast Paddington-bound trains on the Elizabeth line to pass under the slower freight trains entering and leaving a nearby freight yard – increasing reliability and reducing journey times.

The project has been designed and constructed with sustainability as a key project consideration, including the impacts on waste, materials, and biodiversity.  The construction site was planned and managed in a safe way making use of new technologies and received a Network Rail STAR award for best practice in safety and environmental management.  The project took into consideration the socio-economic area within which it was operating and actively supported the Budding Brunel scheme that Network Rails runs with the Construction Youth Trust.

Challenges and achievements

Physical Resource Use & Management

The project was due to generate a considerable amount of excavated earth, so early on the project team and contractor (BAM Nuttall) sought to meet Crossrail’s objective to reduce the amount of excavated material generated and going to landfill. Maximum beneficial reuse of the materials was attained through the introduction of a series of effective waste management measures, in an endeavour to divert 100% of materials from landfill. A series of waste forecasts were made during the initial design development, accounting for 55,200 m3 of excavated earth and 980 m3 of excavated concrete. Initial estimates indicated that 1% would be reused, 95% would be recycled, and the remaining 4% would be disposed to landfill. Through design modifications these volumes of waste generated during construction were reduced to 48,200 m3 of excavated earth and 743 m3 of concrete and brick. Through an effective waste management strategy, and a collaborative approach with the supply chain, over three quarters of the excavated soil was beneficially re-used off site (78.5%) and the remainder (21.5%) was recycled. Of the excavated concrete 100% was recycled, meaning that overall the project has successfully achieved 100% diversion of material from landfill.

Out of 48,200 m3 of excavated earth: 6,600 m3 was re-used on local golf courses; 21,000 m3 was re-used on farms; 10,100 m3 was re-used for landfill operations; 4,400 m3 was recycled to manufacture concrete, railway ballast, road building materials and concrete building products; and 6,100 m3 was recycled for concrete mix.

Ecology and Biodiversity

Acton Dive-under has achieved a measurable net positive contribution to biodiversity through habitat restoration at four locations around Acton Yard.  A variety of different plant species have been planted for the restoration works which include the addition of tree species, such as an English Oak, and new species rich grassland upon newly laid topsoil. The overall loss was 1.56 units but restoration works provided a gain of 2.43 units, giving a net positive balance of 0.87 units.

Community Engagement

The project supported the Budding Brunel Scheme, run in association with the Construction Youth Trust, by running a three-day Budding Brunel workshop. This gave 17 students an opportunity to learn about future career options in construction and engineering.

The students were involved in role-playing exercises, including: dealing with stakeholder engagement, completing construction activities, building chairs from balloons and tape, and making bridges from straws and tape. Six students were from BTEC Engineering courses at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College and the other eleven students were from Brentside High School and completing A-level Maths or Physics. The workshop helped seventeen young people aged 11-18 with 47 hours of Network Rail volunteer leave. The team also hosted five work experience students throughout the project.

The social value of this engagement is estimated to be £63,509 – through skill development in project management, enhancing confidence and communication skills, increasing aspiration and addressing skills shortages, and through increasing social networks and university applications.

As well as engaging with inspiring young people, the project was also involved in other activities among the local community. These included the delivery of a safety presentation to sixty 4-10 year olds at East Acton Primary School by two team volunteers. In addition to this, three volunteers aided the restoration of a memorial garden for a National Rail employee.

Health and Welfare

The project maintained a safe site for its staff throughout the work, by ensuring everyone got home safe every day. The team also made use of new technologies – such as a noise sensor to notify staff when noise levels were high and workers should wear ear defenders – with significant benefits to staff health and wellbeing.


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