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Van Elle Rail successfully delivers the piling for the Eden Brows emergency works for Story Contracting & Network Rail...

March 2017

Following a 500,000t landslip on the Settle to Carlisle railway in early 2016, Van Elle were approached by Story Contracting to competitively bid for the stabilisation solution to prevent the same occurring again in the future. As the only UK piling company to have experience of designing and installing the Elemex rotary percussive drilled piles, Van Elle were appointed as their chosen contractor and discussions began between Van Elle, Story Contracting and Aecom as how best to tackle this challenging task.

Atlas Copco’s Elemex solution has an extended ring bit which redirects the air flow across the bit face resulting in an efficient flushing without air escaping to the surrounding ground. This significantly reduces the vibration whilst drilling and also helps it to deliver unequalled tolerances. This was of particular importance as the location had the potential to suffer a second failure; something that was closely monitored using inclinometers throughout the project.

Eden Brows     Eden Brows 2     Eden Brows 3     Eden Brows 4

After the slip had been cleared and a platform built, Van Elle mobilised to site to install 3No. 610mmØ prelim test piles to 20m. Each test pile had 2 reaction piles of the same diameter and to the same depth to counter against when simulating the test conditions. The reaction beam was designed bespoke for this application.

There were also 28No. 610mmØ ramp piles installed in order to get the rig down the 2.5m drop to the piling platform level. The rig used to install the test piles was a Hütte 207MP; a 30 tonne machine which has a 16.5m mast, delivers unrivalled torque for a rig of its size and has 40 tonne extraction force with relatively low bearing pressure.

Once the results of the test piles had been fully analysed, a redesign was carried out and the decision was made to increase the size of the working piles to 660mmØ.

This was the first time that 660mmØ Elemex piles have ever been installed anywhere in the world and the largest diameter and the deepest that Elemex has ever been installed in the UK.

Owing to the nature of the project and the various loadings that were to be applied to the piles, the required tolerance was 1 in 800! The limited accuracy of conventional piling systems means that the ICE spec only goes as high as 1 in 200 demonstrating just how unique this scheme was. This meant that there was only an allowed 25mm vertical tolerance for the 20m piles and 22.5mm vertical tolerance for the 18m piles.

The final pile design consisted of two rows of high-strength piles totalling 198 in number. The front row were in compression and were installed to 20m depth whilst the rear row were in tension and were installed to 18m depth.

In order to achieve the extremely tight programme, there were two piling rigs utilised; the Hutte 207MP and a bespoke 14m masted Klemm 709 with another on site as a backup in case work needed to be carried out on either of the working rigs. In total, there were 6 piling teams operating, 4 during the day and 2 at night as well as a team of 8 welders working on the casings.

Van Elle’s piling works were completed by 20th January on time and within budget enabling Story Contracting to complete the project to get the line replaced and ready to be re-opened in March as planned.

"This has been a hugely challenging job, as I saw for myself last year. I am impressed and grateful to the innovative team that led this work and to Story and the other contractors that helped us make it happen. Well done to you all. A great railway team effort". Mark Carne, Network Rail CEO.

Eden Brows 5     Eden Brows 6     Eden Brows 7     Eden Brows 8

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