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Construction noise & vibration management for GWE

Anderson Acoustics are working on the Great Western Electrification (GWE) project on behalf of AMEY, who require noise and vibration management for ongoing piling works. This case study gives a detailed look at the work involved and how our team has applied its expertise to add value for the client.

Every 40-70m along the Paddington to Cardiff mainline, cylindrical steel piles are used to support the masts that carry overhead lines to power the new trains. This work results in significant short term impact on a very large local community. Initially, AMEY faced challenges associated with the impact of noise on the lineside community, as well as the management of monitoring and mitigation in a live operational environment.

Anderson Acoustics began noise monitoring initially due to residential complaints about trackside piling taking place at night. In addition, to ensure that works adhered to the noise criteria for the relevant Local Authorities, we also reviewed the Section 61 documentation provided by AMEY, securing agreement with eight local authorities along the route on any noise issues prior to work commencing.

We are very proud to have added value to the project by acting as the interface between site teams and the design teams. In assisting the design teams in the planning and scheduling of works, we found ourselves uniquely place to assist collaboration on the project. This included using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to identify at-risk properties, infrastructure assets and receptors and working with the site teams on monitoring and Best Practicable Means (BPM) for mitigation.

This liaison role has helped the client teams to work together more efficiently, resulting in smarter scheduling, which has reduced overall project costs. Our technical and project management contribution has led to an extension of the project scope to cover vibration monitoring on at-risk properties and key infrastructure assets such as drainage ditches, culverts and underground services – many of which date back to Brunel’s original construction of the railway.

Our consultants continue to go on daytime track walkouts to identify structures and assets, logging their GIS coordinates for proximity and risk analysis prior to works. Vibration models are checked to make sure they’re within British Standard limits (based on BS5228 part two), assessing whether it is safe to commence piling in particular areas, or highlighting potential issues – most notably for underground electricity and water mains. Cross referencing BS5228 with our own database on related projects enables us to propose acceptable maximum limits for vibration, for which we obtain approval from Network Rail on behalf of the client before works commence. These are then used during attended monitoring as trigger levels within which the construction teams must work.

As with all our construction projects, a lot of time is spent working with the construction planners optimising site plant to ensure the most cost effective amount of construction work can be delivered within the constraints of the noise, vibration and available time. For AMEY/GWE this includes assessing the most appropriate technology for every piling location. Ultimately this saves the client money and reduces the overall impact on the community and other stakeholders.

In addition, we have undertaken noise modelling for permanent sound barriers around the AMEY/Network Rail trackside access sites, often situated near residential areas. We assisted with the design of aesthetically pleasing barriers that will provide sufficient noise attenuation for the local community.

Large scale projects such as GWE often gain permission at short notice. We understand the importance of exploiting these construction windows. Our size and team capability allow us to react quickly with assured turnaround to ensure no opportunities are lost – even with the logistic complexities of night time surveys, requirements for multiple concurrent monitoring locations and the requirements of working within controlled areas such as trackside or airside.

In order to operate within the strict health and safety and operational regulations of the live trackside environment, the Anderson Acoustics quality management system has been enhanced and audited to meet the requirements of Achilles RISQS and seven members of the project team have achieved Personal Track Safety certification.

What this means for our clients:
– Anderson Acoustics can quickly adapt to a rapidly changing project.
– Our in-house GIS mapping skills have proven themselves to be invaluable in demonstrating potential impacts on nearby residents.
– We can rapidly accommodate client requirements for working within operational and regulated environments.

John Newman, Client Success Director at Anderson Acoustics commented “We are particularly pleasd to be applying our construction vibration expertise to help protect Brunel’s historically important structures. Our GIS planning work, collaborative approach, Personal Track Safety team and ability to mobilise at short notice are contributing to keeping this project on-track.”

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