Thameslink: Using pre-fabricated modular components to build technically complex infrastructure

Summary

Thameslink Programme placed innovation at its heart throughout its lifespan, from design through construction, to improve the experience for the community, client (Network Rail) and the end user – the passengers.

A key example of innovation deployed by the project was the use of pre-fabricated modular components to build technically complex infrastructure. This was used across the London Bridge redevelopment project, including parts of the platforms, the platform canopies and large facades on either side of the station. It was also used at the Bermondsey Dive Under, a grade-separated junction build by the Thameslink Programme to untangle the tracks to the east of London Bridge.

Components were built offsite and then brought onsite for the final installation, because the projects did not have the physical space to do some of the construction activity. Thameslink also worked very closely with their supply chain to make sure they had the right flow of people.

London Bridge remained open throughout the redeveloment, while passenger numbers continued to rise, posing the challenge of tight time constraints as well as working within a limited space. While it would have been cheaper and quicker to rebuild the station and surrounding railway with both completely closed, this was unrealistic outside of extended Bank Holiday weekends and Christmas periods. Consequently, the project had to deploy innovative techniques to stay within strict time boundaries while working within the tight space of central London.

The use of pre-fabricated modular components was challenging due to the requirement to work around the existing operational assets, but by using bespoke designs and learning throughout the programme, it was successful. The platforms and canopies in particular were able to accommodate the twist and turns of track alignment that channel through the fourth busiest station in the UK, while the pre-fabricated facades have been noted to exceed the aesthetic requirements to fit in with the area.

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