Wembley Park Station, ready on time!

Wembley Park Station, ready on time!

09 May 2006

On March 27th the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, the new Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy, together with Tube Lines and London Underground celebrated the completion of the re-development of Wembley Park Station.

Those in charge of the work point out that even now some finishing touches are still outstanding, but they also achieved the specified completion of September last year.

Artist's impression of Wembley ParkLast September was a critical date for the substantial completion of the facilities so that they could be used for the early trial and proving events scheduled for the adjacent controversial new Wembley Stadium! Wembley Park Station is described as the primary gateway to Wembley, and the re-developed facilities have now been ready and waiting for the new Wembley Stadium for a long time!

Terry Morgan, Tube Lines chief executive, said: “We are delighted to have supported the Mayor and London Underground in putting in place appropriate transport provision for a key Olympic venue and we look forward to working together to deliver other key elements of the transport plan for the 2012 Games. The success of this project is both a great example of a partnership working, not just with London Underground but with our principal contractor Taylor Woodrow and is a positive reflection of what can be achieved with investment in the network.”

Tube Lines is a two-shareholder consortium of Amey and Bechtel with Amey owning two thirds and Bechtel one third. Tube Lines is responsible for the maintenance and upgrading of the infrastructure on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines. 

The works included enhancements to increase the station’s capacity by 70% to accommodate events at both Wembley Arena and the new Wembley Stadium when it opens! The commuter ticket hall has been enlarged, a new events day ticket hall has been built and at the southern end of the station the original Euro 1996 exit steps have at long last been completed and expanded. Platforms 4 and 5 have extended canopies and there is now step free access from all six platforms.

Tube lines engaged Taylor Woodrow at an early stage to be principal contractor and to assist in the project management of a project costing between £45 and £50 million. Final accounts and finishing work are still ongoing.

The station sits on a bridge with platforms beneath. The original bridge was only about ten metres wide - it is now 20 metres wide. Work started on site in April 2004 with a completion date just 18 months away, a very tight project delivery programme, especially considering the need to keep the station operational. When work began only five of the six platforms were in operational use. It was upgraded, as were the other five, with the work including new copings and surfacing.

New barriers were built to separate the extensive and otherwise exposed cable runs on the platform. Alternate platforms were then kept in use so that both north and southbound services were always available. Either northbound Jubilee Line and south bound Metropolitan; or vice versa, with two available Metropolitan tracks (one slow the other fast) and the Jubilee through the middle of the station, were used.

Hoardings were erected on each platform so that the bridgeworks could proceed. The old bridge was then partially demolished with support towers being used on each platform. New foundations were needed in the form of 600mm diameter shell and auger bored concrete piles. These were typically 14-metres long and bearing into the gravels beneath the London clay. Scanmore, who sublet the piling to Bachey, did the work.

The new bridge towers onto the platforms were then erected. During the following almost 32 successive weekends, tower cranes were used to lift in the new bridge deck linking structures. The weekends were not always sequential, due to the need to avoid a small number of weekends when large events were taking place. The design of these spans included their ability to be craned into place. Use of the tower cranes and weekend possessions was also made to bring new materials for the following week’s work to site and to remove old spoil and debris arising from the works.

Being near the end of the line, available hours when lines are available and no trains are running were very limited and amounted to around two and a half hours each night. The movement of engineering trains from other work sometimes took up even these hours! A lot of people worked on the site around the clock. Typically midweek nightshifts involved around 60 workers, reducing to 50 on dayshift, but increasing to around 100 people each weekend.

South Eastern Contractors undertook the electrical and mechanical work, including the replacement of an old light board with destination information, which was of such historic interest that it has now gone to a transport museum. As the new structures were erected, the signalling was disconnected and reconnected to signals suspended from the new structures.

Tube trains at the new look stationThe unfinished Euro ’96 exit steps were at long last completed. They have been in use but with temporary works to make them safe for public use. The temporary steel structure was removed leaving a half width stairway. A new concrete slab was then cast supported on one hundred, 450 mm diameter end bearing piles which were each 20 metres deep and founded in the gravel layers beneath the London clay.

The new concrete slab connects the top of the stairs to the existing station, together with a new two-storey accommodation building on one side. This building is a reinforced concrete framed structure. Its top floor provides a new ticket sales facility, a secure suite and staff accommodation. The middle floor has offices for the General Station Manager (GSM) and, on the ground floor there are plant and switchgear rooms.

Above the concourse an additional ’Events Day Concourse’ has been built. The roof structure is unusual and eye catching. A large spike can be seen from the stadium. Together with two wire cable stays, this supports an ethylenetetrafluoroethylene roof, which is not susceptible to ultraviolet light. It is made of a similar material to that used for the domes at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

The roof is suspended from a lightweight steel lattice space frame structure and tied back to the feature spike by the wire cables. The ETFE roof has been described as like a bouncy castle, and consists of a large number of air-filled cushions, like oversized bubble wrap, which are continuously fed with air and provide a degree of thermal insulation.

Is it fair to suggest that with CTRL stage two on time and to budget, Stratford International Station finished and ready, and now the new Wembley Park done, all that is needed now is for the construction of the rest of the facilities for the 2012 Olympics to be completed on time and to a similar standard. Maybe railway engineers used to working to tight deadlines need to become involved!

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