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Hitchin Grade Separation

Client: Network Rail

Contractors Designers: TGP (Civils) Volker Rail (Rail)

Form of Contract: NR12 Alliance

Dates work carried out: 2011 – 2014

Value: £34,000,000

The project was conceived by Network Rail over 15-years ago to improve timetables on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) where currently the Cambridge line traffic crosses the ECML on a flat crossing. The Cambridge Junction Grade Separation Project (now identified as the “Hitchin Alliance”) will take the Down Cambridge line over the ECML via embankments and viaducts, rejoining the existing Cambridge route approximately 1.5km east of Hitchin.

The project involves the construction of the new elevated route via imported fill embankments and an elevated rail flyover extending over 800m and comprising steel girders and concrete deck. At either end of the grade separation there will be new junctions formed to align with the existing railway and including for modifications to the Overhead Lines, Signalling and Telecoms. The project also delivers the new railway i.e. track, overhead line, signalling, power and telecommunications over the new route

Part way through the tender process, the Client introduced the concept of awarding the Contract as a ‘Pure Alliance’. This involves Contractor and Client teams fully integrating, co-locating and working under a modified NR12 contract to reflect the alliancing ethos.

The Hitchin Alliance has been formed using BS11000 ‘collaborative business relationship management’ standard and principles. This is a ‘demonstration project’ for Network Rail, amongst the first of its kind, so the process is being closely scrutinised by Network Rail executives, meaning by definition an open an honest approach is needed to succeed, which is a quality HOCHTIEF prides itself upon.

Headed by the Alliance Manager, the Alliance Integrated Project Organisation has been designed to seek economy in resources by fully integrating team members from both parent companies and key suppliers. Team leaders from several disciplines form the Alliance Leadership team. Their role is to take responsibility for identifying and managing change and risk, driving economy and innovation and ensuring that the project achieves or betters the key outputs. As the Alliance has ownership of the majority of project risks and opportunities there is a combined and committed desire to ensure that the process is robustly managed and that the Alliance achieves the maximum benefit.

One of the key outputs of a ‘Pure Alliance’ is to drive innovation through the whole project lifecycle. The Hitchin Project delivers GRIP stages 5-8, therefore innovations were targeted on detailed design and delivery. Value engineering and design workshops were initiated from the outset with designers, reviewers and approvers forming a single integrated team. This allowed the opportunities to be established, developed and determined efficiently. The mutual benefit from this ensures that all parties work together to drive initiatives to a conclusion.

Hitchin Alliance Logo