Railway Electrification

As heritage advisors to Network Rail on a variety of upgrade projects, including the Great Western, Midland Mainline and the Northern Trans Pennine, we have an unrivalled knowledge of the challenges of enabling the UK’s 19th century railway network to fulfil the demands placed on it in the 21st century.

The electrification of some of the UK’s earliest and most historic railways presents exceptional challenges. These relate both to the design of appropriate modifications to listed bridges, viaducts, tunnels and stations to accept the masts and wires, and to meet necessary safety requirements, and the visual impact on the wider landscape setting of the railways.

Alan Baxter has been involved at all stages of the process. In a partnership with Network Rail and Historic England, we undertook comprehensive reviews of the heritage assets along the routes, identifying those which missed by earlier surveys. We produced a ‘layman’s guide’ to electrification to explain the technical demands in simple language. We analysed the impact of the railways through the different landscape areas through which they pass. We provided design support to tackle some of the trickiest challenges, including proposals for a slender mast for use on listed and prominent viaducts, the raising of bridge parapets and the cutting back of station canopies to achieve the necessary safety clearances. We also designed a new overbridge, to replace a Brunel-designed listed bridge which needs to be replaced.

We led negotiations with Historic England and local authority Conservation Officers and provided the Heritage Statements to achieve the necessary listed building consents.