With winter upon us Network Rail, and its principal contractor BAM, are working hard to ensure that construction can continue on the Borders Railway despite the challenges that winter conditions bring.
As well as shorter daylight hours and dealing with the winter weather, the project has had to consider the best methods of working while dealing with wet weather and freezing conditions. Project planners have had to ensure that earthworks can be scaled back as winter sets in. The construction of 140 bridges and tunnels along the route will be the main focus for the Borders Railway team over the winter months.
As some heavy plant vehicles continue to use local roads, the project has maintained 11 road sweepers in operation to help keep public roads free from excess mud and debris. Mobile wheel wash facilities have also been installed where needed. These remove dirt from the wheels of site vehicles prior to them entering the public road. While this will not eliminate the issue of dirt on the road altogether, the project anticipates it will help to reduce it significantly.
In addition, the project team is actively liaising with Midlothian Council, Scottish Borders Council and Police Scotland to ensure that road sweepers and gritters work in co-ordination to keep the roads safe during the winter months. Where needed roads will be swept and then re-gritted by the project.
Network Rail Project Director, Hugh Wark, said: “Winter weather generally brings more difficult conditions and we are deliberately scaling back major earthworks as poor weather approaches. However, to maintain productivity our focus has shifted to the structures along the route.
“Although this phase of the project will result in less HGVs on the road, there will still be plant machinery in operation and we are working hard to keep the roads as clear as possible with road sweepers operating along the A7.
“In addition, regular liaison with both councils and Police Scotland ensures that all issues can be addressed quickly and our foreman and senior management now receive text alerts to confirm the timetable for gritting operations. This should ensure that road safety is maintained over the winter period.
“Safety is our number one priority. If residents wish to have more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the project team.”
Construction on the line will shut down over the Christmas period, from Friday, December 20 until Monday, January 6, but communications channels will remain open. Security will be on site during this period, and the British Transport Police will be patrolling the area.