East-West Rail (EWR): Oxford-Bletchley construction progress

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alexx

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Progress in Bicester - two tracks now mostly laid to Charbridge Lane.

Also there’s a community notice board nearby which might be of interest.
 

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fishwomp

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Progress in Bicester - two tracks now mostly laid to Charbridge Lane.

Also there’s a community notice board nearby which might be of interest.
Superb. Thanks for the photos. Does anyone here know if the plan is to build the line 100 yards at a time, or is this just the right size for dropping ballast for the next few miles.

I know someone previously said that they need to lay to Claydon Jct soon to support HS2.
 

alexx

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Can’t go much further without the bridge in Charbridge Lane being completed! ETA December I believe…
 

TheHSRailFan

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Progress in Bicester - two tracks now mostly laid to Charbridge Lane.

Also there’s a community notice board nearby which might be of interest.
Wow, they are quick on placing down the track, Of course, it's just because of the factories along it but wow.
 

Trainee9

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At the Bletchley viaduct, on Saturday afternoon and evening one could see from a distance that a long object was readied for hoisting by one of the large yellow cranes. By Sunday morning, nothing was dangling from the crane hook, indicating that a lift had taken place overnight. Two concrete beams are now in place across the box structure in widely spaced positions, presumably so that the overhead wire equipment can be clipped to them to allow the rest of the beam placement to proceed. (See earlier post). Along the rest of the box walls, temporary work platforms and most of the sill blocks are in place.
By the Buckingham Road, installation of temporary platforms on the piers continues at a leisurly pace.
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eMeS

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At the Bletchley viaduct, on Saturday afternoon and evening one could see from a distance that a long object was readied for hoisting by one of the large yellow cranes. By Sunday morning, nothing was dangling from the crane hook, indicating that a lift had taken place overnight. Two concrete beams are now in place across the box structure in widely spaced positions, presumably so that the overhead wire equipment can be clipped to them to allow the rest of the beam placement to proceed. (See earlier post). Along the rest of the box walls, temporary work platforms and most of the sill blocks are in place.
By the Buckingham Road, installation of temporary platforms on the piers continues at a leisurely pace.
---
Thanks for the update.
 

bspahh

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Network Rail Air Ops just posted

"Today our Drones popped into the Bletchley to show you the new bridge going in. More to follow next week. Looking great "

Aerial photo of Cranes at Bletchley Flyover 1
Aerial photo of Cranes at Bletchley Flyover 2

Aerial photo of Cranes at Bletchley Flyover 3
 

kevin_roche

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Network Rail Air Ops just posted

"Today our Drones popped into the Bletchley to show you the new bridge going in. More to follow next week. Looking great "

Thank you for posting those photos.

Would someone be kind enough to point out to me where the new platforms will be? I have a vague memory that they span the road bit i could be wrong. I looked for, but was unable to find the original map.
 

edwin_m

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Thank you for posting those photos.

Would someone be kind enough to point out to me where the new platforms will be? I have a vague memory that they span the road bit i could be wrong. I looked for, but was unable to find the original map.
They are on the eastern flyover ramp. On that photo they are to the right of the existing platforms.
 

mr_jrt

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I'm curious - the new box splays out on the southern end to accommodate the flyover's last column, but does not on the northern end. Any idea why the difference?
 

swt_passenger

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I'm curious - the new box splays out on the southern end to accommodate the flyover's last column, but does not on the northern end. Any idea why the difference?
I think this drawing suggests that on the east side they are possibly over some usable land or at least an access route, there’s more buildings and stuff right up to the railway boundary. Here’s the planning drawing anyway, if it helps, first attachment:


Thank you for posting those photos.

Would someone be kind enough to point out to me where the new platforms will be? I have a vague memory that they span the road bit i could be wrong. I looked for, but was unable to find the original map.
Here you go Kevin, I’ve taken a screen grab of a planning drawing, the second attachment below. The arrow points to the corner of the main Cement plant building which can be easily identified, the platforms end at about that point. About half the station length is within the widening embankment walls.
 

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kevin_roche

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Here you go Kevin, I’ve taken a screen grab of a planning drawing, the second attachment below. The arrow points to the corner of the main Cement plant building which can be easily identified, the platforms end at about that point. About half the station length is within the widening embankment walls.
Thank you for posting those plans. I see now that the Cement plant access road that goes around it. I was thinking the platforms were actually over the road I have driven on to get to the Bletchly park museums in the past. All clear now. Is the Cemex plant staying there forever or is it just in place for the construction of the railway?
 

Elecman

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The ace ex plant is staying and the access road is also used to access the Network Rail maintenance depot
 

swt_passenger

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Thank you for posting those plans. I see now that the Cement plant access road that goes around it. I was thinking the platforms were actually over the road I have driven on to get to the Bletchly park museums in the past. All clear now. Is the Cemex plant staying there forever or is it just in place for the construction of the railway?
I think the plant has been there for many years, it isn’t just recent for railway purposes. There’s ready mix concrete and an asphalt plant on site.
 

Trainee9

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At Bletchley,(Friday) Pier 26 behind Duncombe Street has now been rebuilt with shell blocks. When I looked today, a large crane next to it appeared to be preparing for departure. The foundation work can just be made out on earlier aerial photos if you know where to look.
Addendum Saturday 10.49 am: Following signs of overnight activity, I could see about 13 beams in position at intervals along the 'box'. While I watched, another concrete beam was craned into position and an overhead line support tower was hoisted away.
 
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Trainee9

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Bletchley viaduct, Sunday, 11.30 am: Following crane activity overnight, by morning the positioning of the beams over the box was substantially complete, except for three unexplained beam-sized gaps. On the Western side, two trucks had arrived carrying long grey beam-like objects - I could not make out exactly what they were. No change on the piers around the Buckingham Road.
If you look closely, rebars can be seen inside the shell blocks of Pier 17 in the picture above (post #17). Evidently the pier will be filled up with concrete. The amount of concrete going into this viaduct reconstruction seems immense.
Key to pics: Beam? on truck + beam ends. beam? on truck + beam ends, Pier 26, beam ends on east side.
 

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edwin_m

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I think the visible gaps are almost certainly where the OHLE equipment is being fitted. There’s a photo here taken from track level, you can just see a gap where each set of steelwork is mounted:


View attachment 95391
Certainly looks like they've left a gap to provide space and electrical clearance for the supports, which are presumably mounted to a much shallower structure not visible here.
 

swt_passenger

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Certainly looks like they've left a gap to provide space and electrical clearance for the supports, which are presumably mounted to a much shallower structure not visible here.
Hopefully a detailed photo will appear in due course. I‘d assume they won’t make it impossible to adjust or renew, so it’s likely there’ll be some sort of removable cover over those sections?
 

edwin_m

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Hopefully a detailed photo will appear in due course. I‘d assume they won’t make it impossible to adjust or renew, so it’s likely there’ll be some sort of removable cover over those sections?
I think it would be easier to access them from underneath, considering that access from above would have to take account of the track on top plus whatever the are attached to.
 

DelW

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If you look closely, rebars can be seen inside the shell blocks of Pier 17 in the picture above (post #17). Evidently the pier will be filled up with concrete. The amount of concrete going into this viaduct reconstruction seems immense.
I linked a page describing the construction system in the earlier EWR thread, but here it is again (scroll down to "Modular Abutments"):


Essentially the precast "boxes" are permanent formwork for insitu concrete poured within them.

I agree that the amount of concrete and the numbers of beams, seems excessive. I understand the wish to avoid piers between WCML tracks, but had I been designing the structure, I'd have tried to utilise portal frames at (say) 10m centres, with the deck beams parallel to the EWR tracks and spanning between the portals, forming a deck about 8m wide for the two tracks. The portals would have been substantial, but I think overall the volume of concrete, and certainly the number of beams, would have been reduced. Maybe the designers tried that and it didn't work, or maybe not.

(One of my roles in the last decade before I retired was carrying out buildability checks on civil engineering designs produced by young engineers within my organisation. Too often engineers with little site experience, and no background in designing by hand calculation, took output from their software as being the only possible answer, without questioning whether it was the most appropriate solution, whether appropriate input parameters had been used, or even if it was practical to construct. Fortunately I managed to stop some horrors before they went to tender.)
 

edwin_m

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I linked a page describing the construction system in the earlier EWR thread, but here it is again (scroll down to "Modular Abutments"):


Essentially the precast "boxes" are permanent formwork for insitu concrete poured within them.

I agree that the amount of concrete and the numbers of beams, seems excessive. I understand the wish to avoid piers between WCML tracks, but had I been designing the structure, I'd have tried to utilise portal frames at (say) 10m centres, with the deck beams parallel to the EWR tracks and spanning between the portals, forming a deck about 8m wide for the two tracks. The portals would have been substantial, but I think overall the volume of concrete, and certainly the number of beams, would have been reduced. Maybe the designers tried that and it didn't work, or maybe not.

(One of my roles in the last decade before I retired was carrying out buildability checks on civil engineering designs produced by young engineers within my organisation. Too often engineers with little site experience, and no background in designing by hand calculation, took output from their software as being the only possible answer, without questioning whether it was the most appropriate solution, whether appropriate input parameters had been used, or even if it was practical to construct. Fortunately I managed to stop some horrors before they went to tender.)
Perhaps they didn't do that because the deck beams would have had to rest on the portals, creating an extra layer that would either have reduced the clearance for the WCML or needed extra work to the ramps to raise the EWR tracks. It would probably also have been an extra stage of construction needing an extra (or possibly just longer) closure of the WCML. The constructability issues can be very significant for a structure on a live railway compared to one in a building site environment.
 

DelW

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Perhaps they didn't do that because the deck beams would have had to rest on the portals, creating an extra layer that would either have reduced the clearance for the WCML or needed extra work to the ramps to raise the EWR tracks. It would probably also have been an extra stage of construction needing an extra (or possibly just longer) closure of the WCML. The constructability issues can be very significant for a structure on a live railway compared to one in a building site environment.
Yes, that could have been an issue, although the option of a through-girder deck might have mitigated it to some extent.

I'm well aware of constructability aspects, having both planned and worked on plenty of night- and weekend shifts on both railway possessions and main road closures! I also did the majority of heavy lift crane planning for my employer.
 

swt_passenger

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Certainly looks like they've left a gap to provide space and electrical clearance for the supports, which are presumably mounted to a much shallower structure not visible here.
Seems to be a later photo on Twitter showing most of those supports gone, and more conventional low headroom tubular supports bolted to the underside of the beams.


I wonder if it will all be different again later tomorrow…
 

Trainee9

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Bletchley, Mon 3 May: Another view of the OLE fixing: https://twitter.com/LittleHKiwi (see second set of images)
There was a view on Twitter yesterday showing the last two beams to be delivered, still on the lorries, but cannot find it now. They clearly are not the same pattern as all the others (no visible rebars).
There was some crane activity yesterday evening, and this morning both of the giant cranes had been lowered to horizontal. Now I can only make out two gaps in the line of beams. The gaps look purposeful as the rebar loops on the adjacent beams ar slightly wider. The Northern end of the Box now has a nicely finished end except where the viaduct will connect to it. (pic 883) There may be similar at the southern end but I could not get a clear view.
 

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edwin_m

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Seems to be a later photo on Twitter showing most of those supports gone, and more conventional low headroom tubular supports bolted to the underside of the beams.


I wonder if it will all be different again later tomorrow…
I can't think why the supports pictured previously would have been installed then taken out a few days later, so I think the apparent difference is because this photo is taken from further into the "tunnel" than the previous one so what was the nearest row of supports in the previous photo is now out of shot. Perhaps one of our resident OLE experts can comment on why it needs a mix of near-normal supports restraining the contact wire, plus low-height versions that only seem to provide lateral restraint to the catenary wire.
 

swt_passenger

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I can't think why the supports pictured previously would have been installed then taken out a few days later, so I think the apparent difference is because this photo is taken from further into the "tunnel" than the previous one so what was the nearest row of supports in the previous photo is now out of shot...
I agree with your analysis, looking at them all again. So it seems there are two “gaps” in the normal run of beams where thicker beams are being used (post #27 first two pics), and the OHLE supports there are the “full monty”. I suppose they will likely be at a similar spacing (along the track) to the normal portals elsewhere?
 
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edwin_m

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I agree with your analysis, looking at them all again. So it seems there are two “gaps” in the normal run of beams where thicker beams are being used (post #27 first two pics), and the OHLE supports there are the “full monty”. I suppose they will likely be at a similar spacing (along the track) to the normal portals elsewhere?
The spacing may be shorter, because the distance between them is related to the vertical separation of the catenary and the contact wire at the supports (the encumbrance) and it's very small here.
 

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