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New Year New Tracks at the Northern Line Extension

Category: General / 15 January 2018

The Northern Line Extension (NLE) is improving transport links in London Underground’s Northern line and is essential to support the transformation of Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea in the South Bank. With a crucial blockade in place partially affecting operations, existing track and tunnel invert lining were removed and new track were installed at both step plate junctions in Kennington.

The NLE team, who is extending the tube’s Northern line from Kennington to Battersea in South West London terminating at the redeveloped Battersea Power Station, has now come one step closer to reaching their goal objective. From the night of 22 December 2017 to the very early morning of 2 January 2018, the existing track (300m of rail) and tunnel invert lining (bottom sections of 260 No cast iron tunnel rings built in 1926) were removed in Kennington. New track bed and track was installed, including points crossings (turn-outs) for the connections from the existing Northern line to what will be the new NLE track. This is a critical part of the work and it was done simultaneously at both step plate junctions in Kennington, where the NLE connects with the existing Charing Cross branch of the Northern line.

There were several significant constraints upon the works. Trains continued to operate, and the controls around 24/7 working activity impacted site deliveries. Nevertheless, the concrete deliveries had to be made right through one night in order to maintain the quality of the new bed for the tracks and to keep within the overall time constraint of the blockade. Restrictions in space also had to be factored into the planning process as the materials being removed from the tunnels had to be stored within the limited space on site; both below and above ground.

Furthermore, there was significant prior liaison with the local community ahead of the Christmas period, and on-hand liaison with residents during the work. Through considerable planning and collaboration the team met the challenges and successfully handed back the work sites to London Underground (LUL) on the evening of 1 January 2018, allowing test trains to run along the newly installed assets. Once the testing was complete and approved, the Kennington loop of the Northern line was returned to operational service, well in time for normal LUL train operations to resume on 2 January.

Luis Rallo, FLO Deputy Project Director, commented:  “Working alongside the team to overcome the challenges and complexity of this work, and to watch them develop their skill-sets in the process has truly been a pleasure. This is a crucial part of the work in the NLE project, and so it was key for us to deliver it to the highest quality and safety standards as usual. I am full of gratitude to each and every team member, from Ferrovial Agroman to Laing O’Rourke (FLO) JV and LUL, for their hard work and for giving up their Christmas time with family to deliver this milestone.” Zeynep Acar, FLO Quality Manager, said:  “It has taken an extreme effort from a dedicated team, who has worked tirelessly, day and night, over the festive period, to ensure we successfully deliver the complex works of this blockade to the highest quality and without any incident! Ferrovial Agroman and Laing O’Rourke (FLO) JV and LUL have demonstrated passion, innovation and exemplary collaboration in delivering this major NLE achievement and I am proud to be a part of this team.” The Northern Line Extension will add vital new capacity to London’s transport network, bringing Battersea and surrounding areas to within 15 minutes of the City and the West End. It will also enable the regeneration of the Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea areas, spurring economic growth by supporting around 25,000 new jobs and more than 20,000 new homes.

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