Work on Romford station upgrade continues despite pandemic

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Construction works at Romford station continue to deliver step-free access, a new entrance and a fully refurbished ticket office, ready for the opening of the Elizabeth line

In any normal year, keeping a station open to passengers while upgrading it presents a significant challenge, but doing so while maintaining safety for the construction staff and observing all social distancing guidance in a confined area has been exceptionally challenging.

Romford has already seen significant changes in recent years in preparation for the Elizabeth line, including the extension of its platforms and changes to the platform edge in 2018.

When the current works are complete, the station will have lift access from ground level to the mezzanine level and platforms 3, 4 and 5, a fully refurbished ticket office and a new entrance onto the Battis Walkway, providing better access to the station.

The Romford station upgrade is expected to be completed by the end of 2021, though it remains under review and subject to future guidance on social distancing.

Maroof Hossain, Network Rail’s project manager for the Romford station upgrade has been overseeing the works being undertaken by contractor VolkerFitzpatrick, since late 2018.

Maroof and VolkerFitzpatrick have been able to maintain safety for the workforce, station staff and passengers.

Safety comes first

Maroof Hossain said: “When we first started to upgrade Romford, we had little idea of the challenges that we would encounter in March 2020. The team was already on site, working to modify an existing lift shaft and convert it into a lift usable by the public.

“Then in February last year, the situation with Covid meant we had to start taking measures on site to address the recommendations coming from the government – to maintain distance and regularly wash our hands.

“We took the decision, with VolkerFitzpatrick, to shut down the site in late March 2020, for six weeks. We knew this would have an impact on our construction programme, but safety comes first. Thankfully, we were able to use this time to understand how we could resume work in a Covid safe way once we were allowed to restart.

“It’s been a very steep learning curve over the last 10 months and I’m really proud of how the team has pulled together and taken personal responsibility for everyone’s safety on site.”

VolkerFitzpatrick’s project manager, Adrian Pettigrew, added: “Romford Station is a very tight worksite operationally, and there is a direct interface between our teams and the general public – on a daily basis. This interaction has needed a strong attention to detailed planning from the very start.

“We have also had to overcome complications with the delivery of plant, materials and equipment to areas within the station.

“During our stand-down period, we were afforded the opportunity to review our designs and ensure that the simplest of things, such as combined (two-person) manual handling could be either reduced or, if possible, eliminated.

“The recent Christmas period was the most important phase for the project.

“We successfully migrated all MTR Elizabeth line staff into their new temporary ticket office and delivered the main station demolition works.”

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