NETWORK RAIL CASE STUDY
Earthworks Examinations, Rope Access & Vegetation Works
In May 2020 we were proud to announce our contract award of Lot 6 – Earthwork Examinations with Network Rail Wales Route undertaking earthwork inspections to NR_L3_CIV_065[Issue 6] 2017.
Alongside the inspection work we also provide vegetation clearance capabilities and industrial rope access techniques where blockers to an inspection has been previously identified.
This contract follows on from a successful pilot project we conducted with the route where the benefit of having an Earthworks Examiner present during the vegetation clearance works meant zero returns and full complete and compliant inspections delivered to our client.
Our Company has built a loyal work force of geologists, civil engineers and engineering geologists all having between 5 to 10 years’ experience of earthwork inspections.
Each examiner has been assessed as part of NR/SP/CTM/017-Competence & Training in Civil Engineering and are all competent to EWE3, with Managers competent to EWE2.
Over the last 5 years our Company has successfully delivered over 10,000 earthwork inspections across all Network Rail routes meeting the requirements of NR_L3_CIV_065 [Issue 6] 2017, with each inspection going through the rigorous approval and evaluation process.
All examination staff have completed the RSHI (Rock Slope Hazard Index) course and come with Dynamic Risk Assessment training to complement their Emergency at Work First Aid certificates.
Our Company senior management team also have multiple years of experience throughout CP4 and CP5 from both an Earthworks Examining Engineer (EWE2) and Earthworks Manager (EWE1) level working on the Civil Engineering Framework Agreement contract, having worked for Amey as well as Network Rail.
Our Operations Director, who is the former Amey earthworks national CRE (Contractors Responsible Engineer) brings with him more than 12 years of experience in the successful delivery of over 300,000 earthwork examinations for Network Rail. This also includes being part of the EWE1 (Earthworks Manager) assessment team, the national technical/operational lead, and the former Earthworks Examining Engineer for multiple routes.
The safety of our staff and others around us is always at the forefront of what we do. Before project start, we bring all associated staff together for a pre-project start up meeting. We use this opportunity to re-brief the operational risks and control measures associated with navigating steep slopes and working at height. We also look back on any relevant safety bulletins and re-brief where needed.
Throughout any project we hold regular toolbox talks and carry out site audits on a regular basis. Before any site works commence, we carry out a desk study to highlight any areas requiring a reconnaissance to create an efficient robust programme built around non-compliance.
We identify any areas that may have additional blockers and communicate these early to collaboratively work with our client to avoid any delays. We are fully practiced in working in this dynamic environment and appreciate late changes can occur. Our knowledge and experience of this work means we can re-programme works quickly and efficiently without compromising safety.
Our examiners are all competent to a minimum of IWA (Individual Working Alone) for accessing Network Rail Managed Infrastructure, predominantly working as open line working using separation protection. All our examiners utilise our internal ‘lone worker app’ where we keep regular updates of their locations and wellbeing.
We build our programme around work bank and compliance dates to ensure zero non-compliance, with our resource utilised to maximise productivity.
Daily the examiner will upload their work to the Network Rail owned database ready for synchronisation. On a weekly basis we update the client representative with planned versus actual and show any reforecasting where needed.
Our EWE2 Earthwork Managers conduct a desk top approval of all earthwork inspections uploaded to the database, checking for completeness and compliance to NR_L3_CIV_065[Issue 6]. Also 1% of all sites with an EHC score of A, B or C have a site re-inspection / approval by our EWE2 Earthwork Managers.
Earthwork examinations in the rail environment is a highly specialised skill and every one of our earthwork examiners has between 5 to 10 years’ experience in earthwork inspections. We review their EWE competency annually in accordance with ‘NR SP CTM 017 Competence & Training in Civil Engineering’. We continually monitor our examiners for quality and accuracy and provide further training and/or mentoring where required. Any new staff are trained in both soil and rock inspections and in the use of the handheld device and GISmo software. They will only be certified once our Operations Director (CRE) is confident in their ability and understanding.
Over the years our Company has built and maintained a close relationship with the Network Rail database provider which enabled quick and easy collaborative solutions to both hardware and software issues throughout the project.
All our staff, operatives & senior management have a minimum trackside competence of PTS, with most holding IWA or COSS. All have multiple years of experience working on Network Rail managed infrastructure and are fully compliant to NR/L2/OHS/019. We provide our own Safe Work Packs which follow the process of creation by the Planner, verification by the Person in Charge (PIC) and authorisation by the Responsible Manager (RM). All senior management can carry out the responsible manager role in this process.
Following an earthwork incident in Scotland in August 2020 we supported our Wales client by urgently inspecting 101 sites identified as having drainage issues at the crest creating potential washout risks to the safe running of the railway. We were quick to safely mobilise numerous Earthwork Examiners across the whole route in order to carry out compliant inspections of all 101 sites within the client (and ORR) required timescales. During this process we were also able to speedily assemble both rope access and vegetation clearance teams where we came across sites with blockers to the inspection.
On completion of this work, we were highly commended by the Geotechnical Route Asset Manager and the whole asset management team. We have been to numerous Rapid Response callouts for Wales route this year providing an emergency earthwork examination service.
Having recently received the work bank for the year 1 inspections we are currently planning the works in close collaboration with the Wales RAM Geotech team to deliver an efficient and cost-effective programme to meet compliance dates.
Alongside this urgent work for Wales Route, we also supported a Minor Works Contractor who had been commissioned by the route asset management team in London Northeast Route (LNE) to carry out similar high-risk inspections across their route. Again, we were able to quickly mobilise multiple earthworks examiners, some with IRATA capabilities to various locations across the route supporting the contractor on site. This work was also completed within the Network Rail and ORR required timescales.