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Don’t lose your head – right-sizing vac ex to avoid bridge strikes

29th Nov 2023

ity Vacuum Excavator being used to excavate near railway bridge in York Using a smaller city Vac Ex allowed Vac UK the Vacuum Excavator operator to access the site by passing under a low railway bridge, demonstrating the importance of having a diverse vacuum excavator fleet so that there is a suitable vac ex for every job.

Victorian architecture and railway infrastructure proved no obstacle in York thanks to VAC UK’s extensive vac ex fleet

In order to expose a water main ready for diversion as part of the £100m infrastructure package phase of the York Central development, a suction excavator was needed that could pass beneath a low bridge offering only 12’ clearance.

Ensuring the vac ex would be able to negotiate this 12′ bridge was essential. Fortunately, at VAC UK we are able to offer the right vacuum excavator for the job. In this instance the lower profile of the City machine fitted the bill. Working in fair ground conditions of sand and spoil – mainly bricks and rubble from a previous structure – we were able to excavate the necessary 1.2 metre trench.

We worked around the existing buried utilities, which included water, gas, electric and telecommunications, to remove two full loads off spoil (around 10-12 tonnes) and to uncover the water main successfully in just five hours.

This low Railway bridge provided tricky access for the Vac Ex that need to get access to expose live utilities safely as part of the reconstruction sworks but the vacuum excavator hire company was able to successfully pass through due to using a smaller city suction excavator.

Low Railway bridge provided tricky access for Vac Ex but vacuum excavator was able to get through due to using a smaller city suction excavator.

Diverse vac ex fleet proves key to ensuring the right equipment for the right job

Sean Gallagher, VAC UK General Manager explained that maintaining not only the most technologically advanced and most powerful vac exes but also the most diverse fleet was an important strategic principle for the business.

“We aim to be able to provide the best vac ex to meet almost any construction or civil engineering challenge,” he said. “That includes the Longo Rhino, the most powerful twin fan suction excavator on the market plus smaller city machines such as used on this job,” he said. “In every instance we are committed to providing cutting-edge equipment so the hirer can be confident they are getting the best possible tool for the task.

“The Dino 6 Econic City Vacs are ideally suited to working in small, town centre sites. As well as the safety benefits that using a vac ex brings to any project – the avoidance of costly and dangerous utility and cable strikes and the reduction of manual handling incidences – the City Vacs bring additional safety features designed specifically for the challenges typically found on city centre.”

Bridge strikes are critical risk to railway safety

The York job raises a broader issue. Network Rail reports that every day at least five HGV’s or busses, put themselves, road users and the public travelling on the trains at risk. Research found that 32% of drivers admitted to setting off whilst not knowing the height of their vehicle and 56% per cent not having considered low bridges when planning their journey.

Clearly using the right equipment but also, more importantly, better training for drivers is key to reducing this figure in the future.

Bridge strike incidents can be fatal or can result in serious accidents to pedestrians and road and rail customers and have a serious impact on the timely and safe operation of the railway and the road network.

Each incident results in having to do a structural inspection to ensure the bridge is safe and fit for purpose. Further time needs to be spent checking for debris and managing its removal. This causes serious inconvenience to the local community.

Some bridges tend to get hit more often than others. One crossing, over the A5 near Hinckley, was hit by high vehicles 88 times in the last five years.  Works are currently planned to improve safety at this notorious site.

Notorious Hinkley A5 bridge

City Vacuum Excavator proves safe choice in urban environment

With  their single front-steer axles, double-drive bogies and rear-steer axles, the 32-tonne City Vacuum Excavator vehicles have a tighter turning circle than a standard construction eight-wheeler. Along with their smaller size, this easy manoeuvrability means locations with limited access – common in urban centres – are their bread and butter. Excellent fuel efficiency and emission levels that meet the latest requirements for use in built-up areas make hiring one of VAC UK’s City Vacs a sustainable and safe choice.

The safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other road users is paramount within the supply chain from client down, and an over-riding priority in busy city sites. The City vacuum excavator’s large panoramic windscreens, huge glazed doors and low-level driving position creates unrivalled levels of driver visibility with excellent sight lines in all directions. All of the City Vacs available to hire from VAC UK are designed with this in mind.

Operators will notice a dramatic reduction in blind spots, particularly to the front and sides where taller cabs can prove problematic in busy urban areas. Full length folding glass doors maintain sight lines even as drivers enter and exit the cab, and the low-level access avoids excess strain on operators as they get in and out too. The DirectVision cab also has cameras and sensors to detect obstacles, giving technological back-up in case of human error.

The City Vacs available to hire from VAC UK are designed with this in mind, with large panoramic windscreens, huge glazed doors and a low-level driving position that creates unrivalled levels of driver visibility with excellent sight lines in all directions. Drivers will notice a dramatic reduction in blind spots, particularly to the front and sides where taller cabs can prove problematic in busy urban areas. Full length folding glass doors maintain sight lines even as drivers enter and exit the cab, and the low-level avoids excess strain on operators as they get in and out too. The DirectVision cab also has cameras and sensors to detect obstacles, giving technological back up in case of human error.

The City Suction Excavator is ideal for working in small urban sites.

York Central Project provides significant boost for local economy

The York Central infrastructure works include the construction of a new road bridge and footbridge over the East Coast Main Line, 2km of single carriageway road including separated cycle and pedestrian provisions, a rail spur to the National Railway Museum, and earthworks and utility works site wide. Ultimately, the wider York Central scheme will deliver up to 2,500 homes and over one million square feet of commercial space for offices, retail and leisure. It will provide a significant boost for the local economy.

Homes England has entered into a contract with John Sisk and Son Ltd to deliver over £100m of vital infrastructure at York Central.

The National Railway Museum is a museum in York forming part of the Science Museum Group. The museum tells the story of rail transport in Britain and its impact on society. It is the home of the national collection of historically significant railway vehicles such as Mallard, Stirling Single, Duchess of Hamilton and a Japanese bullet train. In addition, the National Railway Museum holds a diverse collection of other objects, from a household recipe book used in George Stephenson's house to film showing a "never-stop railway" developed for the British Empire Exhibition. It has won many awards, including the European Museum of the Year Award in 2001.Starting in 2019, a major site development was underway.[2] As part of the York Central redevelopment which will divert Leeman Road, the National Railway Museum will be building a new entrance building to connect the two separate parts of the museum together. At the same time, the space around the museum was to be landscaped to provide public spaces.[3] In 2020, architectural practice Feilden Fowles won an international competition to create the museum's new £16.5 million Central Hall building—a key element of the museum's Vision 2025 masterplan.[4][5] In January 2023, the museum's Station Hall (a Grade II listed "former goods station built between 1875-77") was closed for an estimated 18 months for "urgent structural repair" which was to include the installation of a new roof over that area.[6]

York Railway Museum

Situated next to York Railway Station on a former brownfield site, York Central will offer excellent connections to the wider city and the rest of the UK. This will transform the area and help to achieve the goal of bringing £1.16bn to the local economy, levelling up York and contributing to an exciting and successful future.

The project is being brought forward by Homes England and Network Rail as majority landowners, and in wider partnership with the City of York Council and the National Railway Museum.

 

Homes England has today confirmed that John Sisk and Son Ltd are to deliver over £100m of critical infrastructure at York Central. With work expected to begin imminently, this marks another significant milestone for unlocking the city-centre brownfield site, which has been stalled for more than forty years.York Central is one of the UK’s largest regeneration sites. Situated at the heart of the city adjacent to York Station, the 45 hectare site offers a unique opportunity to transform underused brownfield land into a vibrant and distinctive new mixed use neighbourhood – complete with residential, cultural, recreational, commercial and outdoor amenity spaces. Over the next three years, John Sisk and Son will put in place the key infrastructure needed to enable this transformation. This includes the construction of a new road bridge over the East Coast Main Line railway, which features pedestrian and cycle lanes segregated from the carriageway, and a new pedestrian and cycle footbridge will also be added to the existing Water End Bridge. The new access extends for 2km (with separated cycle and pedestrian paths) to connect Water End through the site to Leeman Road, and a rail spur to the National Railway Museum. John Sisk and Son will also provide the earthworks and utility works for the entire site. This infrastructure work will make further development at York Central possible, which, when complete, will provide up to 2,500 homes, 20% of which will be affordable, and over 1 million sq. ft. of commercial space for offices, retail and leisure, providing a significant boost for the local economy. It will also see improved connectivity and access, as well as significant high quality public realm and open spaces, including an urban park. Peter Freeman, Chair of Homes England, said: This marks a significant moment for York Central. We know what a transformational impact urban regeneration schemes such as this can have on a place and the benefits it will offer York’s community. That’s why we’ve partnered with Network Rail to help unlock this long-stalled site. The delivery of crucial infrastructure will help achieve that, bringing ours and our partners’ ambitions for this underutilised area another step closer to reality. It’s brilliant to see the plans starting to come to fruition. Paul Brown, Chief Executive Officer at John Sisk and Son, commented: Sisk is delighted to be involved in this exciting project and to build this major infrastructure in-line with the York Central masterplan. We are committed to delivering this project for the benefit of the whole community and look forward to working in partnership with all the key stakeholders. As majority landowners on the site, Homes England and Network Rail are acting as master developers, working in collaboration with the City of York Council and the National Railway Museum. Robin Dobson, Group Property Director at Network Rail said: This is a major milestone for this multi-million-pound York Central development. Getting the transformation underway will take us closer to delivering an ambitious new City regeneration and community project, that integrates both road and rail. We’re proud to be delivering this regeneration project in partnership with Homes England and look forward to seeing work progress over the next few years. When complete, York Central will reenergise the gateway to the city and unlock opportunities for economic growth across the region. We’re delivering it through a public and private partnership, an approach we are replicating in other towns and cities across the country. The funding for the infrastructure works has been secured through the government’s Housing Infrastructure Grant (£77.1m), the City of York Council’s Enterprise Zone Fund (£35m) and from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (£23.5m). Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council said: This is another major step forward for York Central, one of the most important and exciting regeneration sites in the country, building on the site preparation works delivered by City of York Council and the partnership. It’s excellent news that construction works are moving forward to make the project, which has been a decades long held ambition, into reality. We want to ensure that this positive progress continues to unlock the site’s enormous potential and deliver economic growth, community space and homes that York needs, all within the heart of the city. We are working closely with partners in the York Central Partnership to deliver on our shared vision– a regeneration which drives inclusive and green growth across the city. We will continue to keep residents, businesses and communities informed as this project gathers pace and we deliver the exciting plans for the York Central site. The contract with Sisk follows news that Homes England and Network Rail has officially launched the procurement process to secure a strategic development partner to bring forward York Central, supported by JLL

York Central infrastructure works

 


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