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Successful North Devon Blockade

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Dyer & Butler has successfully completed platform extension works and two bridge renewals on behalf of Network Rail during a nine-day blockade on the Tarka Line, a local railway line in Devon, linking the city of Exeter with the town of Barnstaple via a number of local villages.

As part of the nine-day closure, platform extensions at Grade II listed Eggesford station, as well as the installation of new lighting, drainage and fencing were planned.

The platform extensions are required to accommodate longer, five-car trains that have been introduced to the Tarka Line and will make boarding and leaving the trains easier, as well as improving accessibility for less-abled customers. The 25m and 30m (with a further 20m walkway) platform extensions were completed 48-hours ahead of schedule and without a single Lost Time Incident (LTI).

In addition, engineering teams successfully delivered two high-profile bridge schemes during the blockade. The first scheme involved the full demolition and replacement of the underbridge at Penstone, near Coleford junction.

The programme of works included the installation of new piled foundations (pre-blockade), the removal of existing abutments and the height reduction of the piers, as well as the replacement of the existing wrought–iron deck with a new 25m steel deck, manoeuvred into place by a self-propelled modular transporter. The strict programme of works ran smoothly and the site was handed back 10-hours ahead of programme.

The second bridge scheme saw engineers undertaking the removal of the existing steel deck and infill of the track and underbridge at Battesford. New precast ballast retention units were also installed.

Network Rail Project Manager, George Bartlett, said: “We are really pleased with the work Dyer & Butler has done to extend the platforms at Eggesford station and bridge renewals at Battesford and Penstone. The platform extensions have reduced the gap between the platform and train and will benefit our passengers by making it easier to board and depart trains, particularly passengers with additional mobility requirements.

“The completion of the bridge improvements at Battesford and Penstone complements our ongoing work to reintroduce regular passenger services by the end of the year on the Dartmoor Line between Okehampton and Exeter whereby the Dartmoor Line will join the Tarka Line at Coleford Junction.”