Project Detail

Originally dating back to 1860, Carmarthen Station in South Wales was not connected to the water mains and instead utilised a 100ft tall steel tank for its water supply.

With the tank becoming corroded and unsafe, SSE Contracting was commissioned to remove it and create a new connection to the water supply infrastructure under the tracks. With such a logistically and technically challenging project to deliver, SSE brought in its long-term civil engineering partner, MECX, to help plan and carry out the programme of work.

Carl Bullock, contracts engineer at SSE, explains: “We have worked with MECX on a large number of rail projects across Wales and the South West so we trust the company’s ‘can do’ approach and experience of working in a live railway environment.

“This was a particularly unusual project and the first time that a large water tower had been dismantled on a rail platform anywhere in the UK. MECX’s experience of delivering complex schemes at operational rail stations made them an obvious choice to work with us on the scheme.”

Camarthen Water Tank Demolition
Camarthen Water Tank Demolition
Camarthen Water Tank Demolition

Client :                 SSE

Location :           Carmathen Wales

Finished On :     23rd April 17

Value :                  Undisclosed

Remarks :           SSE brought in its long-term civil engineering partner MECX, to help plan and carry out the demolition programme of work. 

Tight Timetable

MECX worked with SSE to plan the programme which had to ensure that the station could remain operational without any interruption to rail services and safety for passengers, station staff and contractors was paramount.

The scheme began with excavation of a duct beneath the tracks, designed to accommodate six twin-walled polyethylene water pipes, each 100mm in diameter. MECX had one overnight shut down period in which to complete this first stage of the project, giving the team just ten and a half hours to complete the task.

Dean Ivey, contracts manager at MECX, commented: “The last service into Carmarthen Station on a Saturday night was at 11.30pm and we had until the first train at 10am the following day to complete the duct and insert the pipes. The trains were stabled alongside the station overnight and the tracks were blocked to prevent any rolling stock from entering the station while we used eight tonne excavators to create the duct.”

SSE Utilities connected the pipe to the mains and MECX was then tasked with monitoring the installation for six weeks to ensure that there was no movement of the track.

Dean continues: “Geotechnical monitoring was an important safety element of the project because even a small movement of the track could alter the alignment and cause a derailment.  We used robotic lasers to monitor the track across a carefully calculated zone of influence and there was no evidence of any movement at the end of the six-week period.”

Meticulous Planning

With the water pipes in place, the project moved on to dismantling the water tower and the planning for this element was equally meticulous.

There was limited access to the platform which prevented the use of a crane to remove the water tank.  Instead, rigid scaffolding was erected with a fireproof protective netting and the tank was dismantled piece by piece with the waste metal transferred off site for recycling each day.

Dean continues: “It was a painstaking process designed to ensure the highest standards of health and safety, so it took a total of three weeks to completely dismantle the structure.

“We used burners and cutting equipment to remove small pieces at a time, with a 25kg limit on each piece to ensure that it could be lowered safely to ground using electric winches.”

The station remained open to trains and passengers throughout this process and MECX maintained a seclusion zone around the demolition site as part of the health and safety arrangements. The site was also under fire watch throughout the programme due to the use of burners to cut the steel.

Dean adds: “The water tank at Carmarthen is one of many at railway stations around the country and removing most of these would involve similar logistical and health and safety projects.

“With this scheme we have developed a proven methodology for improving the water supply and removing the redundant tank safely and efficiently which can be rolled out to other locations.”

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