Track Renewal Animation – Coventry Nuckle

Introduction

In support of their tender submission, TXM Rail commissioned D2 Rail’s Visualisations team to produce a construction sequence Animation, showing the methodology required to deliver the Coventry Nuckle Project. Our Visualisations team approached this with a combined use of Animation and Gaming software, to create the final video.

Deliverables

The Scope for our Visualisations team was to provide an Animation to support the renewal works for the Coventry Nuckle tender submission. The Animation comprised of 4 Key areas, with pre works to be included at a less detailed level.

The pre works included, the installation of compound, the removal of siding 3 track, the renewal of the Neck Shunt, the installation of the head shunt and the installation of the new platform 5. All of the pre works were Animated in an indicative format, with no plant movements being displayed, as this was not critical to the project. The installation of the compounds and new platform 5 were displayed as the constructed build dropped into position, with all track works being Animated in accordance with TXM’s installation process, excluding all plant, with added particle effects to demonstrate the burning of the rails.

Area 1 to 4 was the significant part of the Animation, with track renewals taking place in these areas. The renewal process for all Areas had the following procedure:

  • Burning of the tracks
  • Removal of sleepers and tracks in 6m sections
  • Excavation of area
  • Re-Ballasting of area
  • Switches & Crossings (S&C) installation using PEM LEMs
  • Plain line track install
  • Top ballast
  • Tamping

The Animation of these works showed plant movements, with an initial detailed Animation of the first routine.

Challenges and Solutions

The main challenge on this project was the scale of the Animation. A typical Animation request covers a single renewal. This project involved the single largest Animation D2 Rail had undertaken, as it consisted of a total of 9 separate Animations (5 Indicative Animations and 4 Renewal Animations), which needed to be Animated in detail in line with the programme.

To overcome the complexity of this Animation, we needed to target 2 main criteria; how to manage the amount of Animation that needed to be provided and the complexity of such a large programme.

To manage the amount of Animation required, we split the project in to its sub-areas, which were then condensed to component Animations. These component Animations, were then divided for each area. This gave us the ability to review and update these without a large knock on effect to the whole area Animation, streamlining the workflow, allowing it to pass from the Animation team, to the gaming environment team and finally to post production.

The understanding of the programme was the second issue on the projects complexity. For this, we used a technique that has been proven before on previous projects. The lead Planner from TXM provided the team with video recordings showing the plant movements. These videos were a run through of the programme, with markers being moved up and down a printed line diagram.

A further challenge, was one that we made for ourselves. As a business, D2 Rail strives to deliver the highest quality product. To do so, we reviewed our current processes and decided to adopt techniques used in the gaming industry.

By adopting the software platforms used for generating PC Games, we were able to bring the scene environment to life. This is something rarely considered. By introducing a more realistic environment and lighting package, we were able to showcase the Animation visuals, emulating today’s high-end visual media.

Benefits

D2’s Visualisations team provided multiple benefits across a myriad of project stakeholders. With regards to construction sequencing, the Animation brought the programme to life. For the Planners, it provided a method to understand any potential issues with the programme and highlighted plant clashes, which can easily become lost within a traditional programme. For all other departments, it provided clear insight into the programme, without the need to decipher a Gantt Chart.

It additionally provided a platform for both the General Public and end user to view the proposal. For the end user, it provided confidence in TXM’s deliverables and for the Public, it removed over complicated engineering with a simple visual, allowing the information to be relayed in a format that was much easier to understand.

Testimony

“We worked very closely with D2 Rail on the production of an Animation for a tender we were working on. We have worked with D2 previously and knew that they could Animate our vision for the delivery methodology and really capture how we would plan to deliver the works. We had a strategy session with the team discussing areas of sites we would want to Animate, the types and number of plant vehicles we would require and the key focus points which we’d like to get across with the Animation. We then put together a strategy document detailing the staging of the works and D2 produced the Animation.

“The attention to detail throughout the works was excellent. The D2 team would have regular conference calls at each stage to ensure that what was being produced was in line with the requirements. The final product was of exceptional quality and showed perfectly how we would deliver the project.”

Fin Gregory
Project Manager

Manchester Airport 4th Platform

Introduction

Our Utilities team were contacted by Network Rail, who having made the decision to bring forward the proposed 2018 completion date for the fourth platform at Manchester Airport railway station, would require our expertise to manage and co-ordinate the diversion of utilities.

The fourth railway platform at Manchester Airport was an upgrade – which allowed extra services to call at the Airport and provide passengers with better access from across the North of England – all as part of the Northern Hub, a £1bn investment for the railway in the North.

Network Rail’s decision combined the ongoing works being undertaken to construct the Metrolink line to the station within this project, in order to take advantage of the access opportunities already established.

Deliverables

Phase One of the works was to be undertaken by the Metrolink contractor M_Pact Thales which included the construction of the fourth platform and the rebuilding of Outwood Lane bridge, in order to remove the existing abutment and provide a span over the third and fourth lines and the new tram link. Our scope was to manage and coordinate the utility diversions on to a temporary structure in order to facilitate the construction of the new bridge span.

Challenges and Solutions

Using historical programme data from M_Pact Thales who had undertaken the same task to construct the Metrolink bridge over Outwood Lane, the temporary utility diversions activity had a duration of twelve months. The first key milestone date was the blockade on platform three which was scheduled for Easter 2014, including a road closure on Outwood Lane impacting the main airport access off the motorway network. This gave the project a challenge of reducing the duration of the programme by 25% to nine months at one of the main transport hubs in the North West of England.

At this stage, we had C3 budget estimates only, so standard durations set out under the New Roads and Street Works Act meant that we needed to find a solution that reduced the durations, in order to achieve the milestone date for Easter 2014. At the first meeting with the Utility Companies and Stakeholders, it was recognised that the main challenge would be the delivery phase.

The solution was for one Utility Company to take the lead (Electricity North West) by returning the C4 estimate early to enable procurement to commence, so that a start on site date of September 2013 could be achieved. Working closely with stakeholders, Transport for Greater Manchester and Manchester Airport Group it was agreed that at this key location it would benefit from having one site in order to reduce disruption and minimise traffic management impact. The advantages of this solution meant that more than one Utility Company could be present on site. Through this coordinated approach the programme was completed in six months, a 50% reduction from the estimated target.

Benefits

The benefits received from this project include understanding what can be achieved by setting up a joint working group between all participants in order to achieve challenging targets. Our approach and the key to successful delivery is to engage early, in order to understand issues and risks that third parties such as the Utility Companies are faced with, due to the impact of infrastructure schemes on their networks.

By adopting a collaborative approach through the design and planning stage with the Utility Companies and Stakeholders which included several workshops, we have now established this process on subsequent projects and now forms parts of our written strategy from the outset.

Testimony

“I wanted to thank you for your considerable efforts on the utility diversions at Outwood Lane. I am very conscious that the timescales you were working to were extremely challenging and without your expertise, the utility diversions would not have been completed in such a compressed timeframe. As such you have played an absolutely vital role in ensuring that the advanced civils works for the fourth platform, were successfully completed in the three-week blockade.”

Mike Heywood
Programme Manager -Northern Hub.

Earned Value Management – Northern Hub

Introduction

The Northern Hub Alliance made a commitment to utilise Earned Value Management (EVM) across the Northern Hub programme as a tool to track performance; to identify issues; and to inform decision making. D2 Rail’s Project Controls team were engaged to provide a full suite of EVM services in order to monitor project performance, based upon our staff’s highly regarded approach to planning, cost collection and progress measurement.

The project was at the very heart of Network Rail’s £1bn+ Northern Powerhouse to improve travel in the North. It is the biggest transport project in the North of England for decades and saw the construction of a new rail viaduct which, for the first time in history, provides a direct link between Manchester’s three mainline stations (Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria). The project spanned the boundary between Manchester and Salford, passing through the area of the first passenger railway station in the world, on Liverpool Road. The urban areas are being redeveloped, creating open and attractive spaces for the public to enjoy. It aims to improve connectivity across towns and cities by creating new direct links to Manchester Airport. It has facilitated a step change in the level of train services operating on the network, increasing capacity for passengers by providing a faster and more frequent train service.

Deliverables

Our Project Controls scope was to provide a full-service implementation of an Earned Value Management System (EVMS), including requirements specification; system design and build; administration and maintenance; and user training.

Challenges and Solutions

EVM can require a step-change in how project data is collected and monitored and any implementation can expect to face a degree of inertia. Our biggest challenge was the variable level of knowledge and experience of EVM within the Alliance team. Failure to understand the benefits of adopting EVM, due to a lack of knowledge or a poor previous experience, led to a reluctance to engage from some Alliance members. This slowed down the implementation phase and put increasing pressure to deliver a tangible output as quickly as possible.

In order to solve this, D2 Rail held a series of workshops with the Alliance Participants to determine EV capability; and to develop relationships with the key stakeholders. We provided lunchtime learning sessions to upskill the wider team with general EV training, as well as more tailored sessions with the main contributors (planning and commercial teams). We also ran a pilot project as proof of concept to demonstrate outputs and benefits.

Benefits

The EVMS implementation provided several benefits for the client, including:

  • Single source of data – consolidated data source integrating cost, schedule and progress data for all Alliance Partners, allowing roll-up/drill-down and cross interrogation;
  • Verifiable status reports – robust data management processes to ensure reliability of outputs;
  • Objective analysis – identification of performance issues; trends; and forecasting using standardised metrics, to inform management decisions/corrective action;
  • Management by Exception – structured approach enables management effort to be focussed on those areas that need it most;
  • Stakeholder confidence – visibility of quality reports within the Alliance; Alliance Participants & parent companies; client organisation; and other external stakeholders; and
  • Recognition and Reputation – the EVM outputs garnered praise from several external parties and furthered the reputation of the project/Alliance within the industry.

Lessons Learnt

This project provided a number of lessons learnt for the Alliance team, including:

  • A dedicated central team – investment in resources and a showing commitment to EVM;
  • Management ‘buy in’ – setting up and engagement takes time and requires management support, from the top down, to reinforce commitment to EVA and resolve conflicts;
  • Early Engagement – early involvement with key stakeholders is essential; and
  • EV capability – upskilling the team with general EV training and project specific training sessions.

Testimony

“D2 Rail were integral to the successful development and implementation of Earned Value Management tools and techniques for the Northern Hub Alliance. Working collaboratively from the outset, D2 Rail helped define the system requirements with the Alliance team and were able to tailor the solution to exactly what was required. They sourced the required cost and schedule data; configured the Earned Value Management System and set up bespoke reporting outputs to enable effective decision making for the Alliance throughout the project lifecycle. A job well done.”

Tom Bright
Network Rail

Signal Sighting – Crossrail West

Introduction

While working on the Crossrail project, it was remitted that the production of Signal Sighting material was to be produced to support the Signal Sighting process and provide Driving Training videos.

Deliverables

D2 Rail’s scope was to provide 3D model data to support the delivery of Signal Sighting throughout all stages of the project. Our BIM team had to follow a series of steps to convert the engineering design models, into a usable federated model for each stage of the project.

To begin, our team obtained the GRIP 5 Design models from the Common Data Environment (CDE) which in this case was ProjectWise. These models where then stripped down to a more functional form. This was done to ensure the Sighting process ran smoothly, as large model files can create run time speed issues. Additional environmental modelling was also required, as this was not part of the projects design remit, however, would be required in the use of Signal Sighting – as external environmental factors play a key role.

From here the models needed to be separated in to staged models for each blockade of work. These blockades ran each Easter and Christmas. The last stage of the model modifications was to export the staged models to an .fbx format, which could be imported into external signal sighting software.

With the individual staged model now formatted to be utilised by the signal sighting software, federated models for each blockade of work now needed to be generated. To control the creation of these staged federated models, a register was required to filter the results and identify which models files would be required.

From this the register, a list of model files would be identified for the desired blockade date and output into a document. This document was imported in to the Signal Sighting software and used to call upon the 3D models.

This register was also used to generate a federated model in the native MicroStation format and used as a review tool for the CAD team to ensure the sighting models passed Quality Control before being processed for Signal Sighting. Advancements were made to this register to automate the creation of these MicroStation federated models.

Challenges and Solutions

The main challenge on this project where the continuous updates to model data and the programme. As the Sighting process takes place throughout the project lifecycle, designs and programmes evolve and change and as such so must the data within the Signal Sighting model.

To overcome the changing designs throughout the project, it was decided that weekly reviews would take place, in which the asset data of models within Common Data Environment would be reviewed, to check for updates. If an update had been made to a model, then this was recorded and listed for update within the Signal Sighting Model.

It was also fundamental that models were split into staged designs, due to signal sighting reviews taking place at pre-defined points within the project.

D2 Rail split the models into staged versions of the original design. As and when updates came in from the programme, the team would have to react to these and modify the staged model files accordingly.

Finally, as there where such large quantities of model data after each model had been separated in to it staged version, control over a register would be key to ensure federated models could be constructed with the right model data.

The BIM team created a register to maintain control over the staged models. Originally this was put in place as a standard model register, which held additional data that aligned with the programme. This programme alignment allowed the register to be filtered to produce a list, which informed the list of models required to generate a federated model.

The register quickly evolved and added an automated system to the construction of the Federated Models. This occurred by including ProjectWise links to the register and adding in Visual Basic coding to the register. After filtering the register, the results could be exported in to a MicroStation file, which in turn would automatically reference in the required models from the Common Data Environment, building a staged federated model.

Document Controller Training

Introduction

D2 Rail’s Information Management team was approached to provide training sessions and training material on the projects currently in progress in the Rail department of WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, Manchester.

Deliverables

Our Information Management team worked from the WSP PB offices to create bespoke training material, tailored to the processes and procedures required for individual projects. The projects included Northern Hub Central, Blackpool Depot, Crossrail, East West Rail, High Speed Two (HS2), Macclesfield Resignalling and Great Western Electrification Programme (GWEP). Introductory basic training sessions were completed from the client’s office followed by advanced Document Controller training, which covered project specific versions of Bentley ProjectWise, ProjectWise Administrator, Bentley Enterprise Bridge (eB) and Opentext Content Server.

Challenges and Solutions

The Information Management team faced some challenges, due to the range of projects and systems in place. This meant that the training material for each project had to be very carefully produced, as what applied to one project or system did not necessarily apply to another. To maintain the highest quality for all deliverables, standard training material was produced from the beginning of the works, which allowed each project to be amended as required from a shared source. This meant that all materials followed a common setup and were easy for the client to navigate between projects.

D2 Rail’s Information Management team also found the project timeframe to be challenging, due to the client’s submission deadlines. However, the team worked flexibly around these deadlines and quickly tailored training sessions to suit the upcoming submissions and knowledge required for them.

Benefits

D2 Rail provided training for this this project for both beginners and advanced users, through the production of clear and precise training material. This knowledge and experience can be taken forward to all new projects. D2 Rail were also asked to return to WSP to provide further training to their engineering teams, proving the success of the project.

Testimony

“D2 Rail have provided us with a very professional service. By understanding of our organisations specific requirements, their trainer, Rebecca Pratt carefully prepared a syllabus and tailored the classes to suit users at all levels of competence, whilst providing support after the sessions for further questions and guidance. Her training covered 4 different Document Management systems in use on over 7 different projects. The results of the training has proved to be extremely beneficial to the immediate teams, so much so that we requested a second round of training the following month to include the wider project teams. I would highly recommend D2 Rail, their training sessions are engaging and the course materials are a step by step guide to avoid any confusion. All in all an extremely valuable learning experience for our teams.”

Graham Hutt
BIM Manager

Liverpool Lime Street Re-Modelling Project

Introduction

The Liverpool Lime Street Re-Modelling and Edge Hill Re-Control project was a condition led renewal and re-control project. It replaced life expired signalling and track lineside assets and signal boxes. In addition, the existing track layout was remodelled to meet the future increase in timetabled passenger train movements and requirement for longer platforms.

D2 Rail was commissioned to provide Information Management support to this logistically complicated project. We joined the DPE (Designated Project Engineer) team from Network Rail to ensure that clarity, compliance and close-out of information was fully achieved across the works, allowing all suppliers to deliver.

The £140m transformation of Liverpool Lime Street was completed on time and to budget, with the final stage taking place on Sunday 14 October 2018. Two brand new platforms were built and are in full use, and all others were remodelled, widened and/or lengthened.

An extensive signalling upgrade was also completed to allow more trains to run in and out of the station, more reliably. Signalling control was successfully moved over to a centrally-operated Manchester Rail Operating Centre in July 2018. This now provides more reliable journeys for passengers, allowing faster decision making on the railway to minimise delays.

The project commenced in December 2016 with the majority of the work being delivered over two key phases; 30 September – 22 October 2017 and 2 June – 30 July 2018. This included:

  • A 5,000 strong workforce that completed over 1 million hours
  • 4.7km of track upgraded
  • 26,000 tonnes of new ballast (railway foundation stone) installed
  • 75 engineering trains used
  • 11km of new overhead line wiring installed
  • 25 new signals installed
  • 65 new overhead line structures installed

Liverpool Lime Street Re-Modelling was a ‘hub and spoke’ style project, which meant many different engineering companies and disciplines fed into one central co-ordinating team to manage the delivery of the works.

Deliverables

The aim during the life of the project was to provide clear and concise reporting, tracking and management of actions and requirements of the project to support the core project team to effectively co-ordinate the suppliers and deliver the works.

This included scope to innovate processes and streamline information where necessary, to improve the communication and management of information across the project and produce more effective close-outs of actions.

Challenges and Solutions

With the contribution of multiple suppliers and engineering disciplines feeding into the project, there was a lack of standardisation and process control with regards to the flow of information. The processes that were being followed in the early stages of the project were reviewed, amended and then controlled. We outlined a clear and simple strategy to achieve uniformity across the project, whilst providing support to all contributors to ensure that this was achieved.

As the construction element of the project was logistically complex, assuring that all the design and safety requirements were fulfilled was a key to the safe and timely delivery of the project. Creating and maintaining a framework to manage the overview of these requirements made for a clear and concise understanding of the progress of the project enabling quick and effective reporting of outstanding issues and works.

Benefits

There is a trend towards over complicating the issue, especially as Document Management systems such as ProjectWise, can provide so much information about stored documentation from the current life cycle throughout its history.

Through simplifying and streamlining, we were able to declutter the information, which allowed us to get to the heart of all issues and resolve them more effectively. By imposing a clear framework of uniformity and compliance across the project, a clearer and more concise presentation of information could be achieved.

Testimony

“Rebecca Mercer worked on the Liverpool Lime Street Re-Modelling Project as a Technical Clerk and Projectwise Specialist throughout GRIP 5-8. She was an integral part of the Engineering Management Team; taking minutes in IDCs, inputting Signal Sighting data, assisting with Entry into Service files and administrating the collection of electronic signatures on IDC certificates to name just a few of her responsibilities. She quickly became the ‘go-to’ person for all Projectwise queries. Rebecca is a true team player, she has a ‘can-do’ attitude, is willing to take on new tasks and has a friendly but professional demeanour. I would love to work with Rebecca again in the future.”

Claire Hulstone
Project Delivery Engineering Manager
Network Rail