Landscaping gains Network Rail infrastructure project excellent rating

Extensive landscaping, including 765sqm of green walls, wildflower planting and a community centre garden were part of a recent railway infrastructure project.

Japanese Knotweed was replaced with wildflowers. Image: Network Rail
Japanese Knotweed was replaced with wildflowers. Image: Network Rail

The construction of the Bermondsey Dive Under, a new railway junction to the east of London Bridge station, has increased biodiversity in the urban area of Bermondsey by 113%, winning the team the coveted civil engineering rating scheme CEEQUAL’s ‘Excellent’ award of 96.6%.

The Bermondsey Dive Under is a joint project by Network Rail and partners Skanska and Ramboll to untangle the tracks approaching London Bridge station and is part of the Thameslink upgrade programme.
Before it was built, train lines to Sussex and Kent criss-crossed over each other at a series of flat junctions, causing delays and limiting the number of trains that could travel per hour. The junction will allow designated lines for Southeastern trains to Kent and Southern trains to Sussex to ‘dive under’ new Thameslink lines from January 2018.

Prior to the beginning of construction in 2012, the Bermondsey site had limited botanical diversity and low conservation value. Instead it had debris everywhere and the soil was heavily contaminated with asbestos, Japanese Knotweed and hydrocarbons. The project removed over 21,900 tonnes of contaminated material and eradicated the Japanese Knotweed.

To increase biodiversity, wildflower planting and green walls were installed to offset vegetation lost in the process of removing the contaminated soils and to create green corridors for wildlife. The team also carried out extensive community engagement, including upgrading the garden in the Lewisham Community Centre, refurbishing a youth club in a local church and volunteering on the XLP youth charity bus.

The whole of the Thameslink Programme, part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, is committed to increasing net positive biodiversity on its projects.

Gerardo Austria, consents and sustainability manager at Network Rail, said: "On the Thameslink Programme, we continuously strive to improve upon sustainable excellence. The fantastic score of 96.6% is the result of our collaborative way of working to not only protect but enhance the environment and the community whilst delivering this complex project".

Charl de Kock, project manager, Skanska, added: "We were able to achieve this excellent CEEQUAL score due to us embedding a sustainable approach from the design stage through to the delivery of the project. This success is testament to the commitment to sustainability from our client, Network Rail, our design partner, Ramboll, and all our other contracting partners and supply chain. I would like to thank everyone."

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