High speed handovers: Newcastle South junction

Safety matters, Newcastle South Junction
author profile picture

by Jessica Tabinor on

In just nine days, spanning a total of 221 hours, maintenance, route planners and route teams worked around the clock to deliver a £8.6million track renewal project at Newcastle South junction.


Used by more than eight million passengers each year, the junction forms a critical part of the East Coast Main Line. The switches and crossings located throughout the complex layout were originally installed in the 1980s and despite regular maintenance to retain good working order, it had become one of the most unreliable junctions on the route, having failed 15 times between January and October 2017 and causing disruption and delays. 

Sitting south of Newcastle station, the blockade was delivered by the Switch & Crossings (S&C) North Alliance, a partnership between AmeySersa, Network Rail and their supply chain. 


Vital Human Resources supplied more than 40 track operatives across ES assistance, CC, COSS, LKT and TM disciplines to deliver specialist works in plating and stitching up and gauging modular layouts, kangoing, ballast profile, plate oiling, cutting joints in and rail drilling. 

The project took place just 80m from live trains, requiring a collaborative approach to health and safety to overcome the challenges on what was the largest and most complex project of its kind on the LNE over the last decade. The site was also located on a viaduct, adjacent to a river and presented a tight footprint for work.  

Safety matters, Newcastle South Junction


The limitations of the site presented a number of challenges, which included: 

  • OLE jumper arrangements to allow electric trains to run in and out of the station as per diversions.
  • Headroom constraints, including short engineering trains and limited isolation headroom.
  • Working on weak structures with Kirow Cranes.
  • Risk of striking and breaking OLE wires and these coming down in the station area; as well as a risk of the public coming into contact with wires.
  • City centre location restricting the access of materials, plant and pedestrians.
  • Hoarding requirements off of Platform bays 9
  • 12 to protect passengers from straying into the worksite where the crane was working.
  • Bringing 88 panels in via road haulage. 

To maintain safety, live footage from helmet-mounted cameras was streamed 24/7 to a Silver Command Centre, enabling access to real-time updates and a complete overview of work on demand. 


In just nine days, more than 114 close calls were reported, mainly concerning exceeded hours (56) and DNSO (35). 

One injury on site was the result of a pull chain falling from the MEWP, which struck an IP on the helmet and cut the individual’s cheek. Luckily, the IP’s hardhat endured most of the blow and minimised the laceration to their face. 

The IP had been taking OHL height and stagger measurements at the front of the MEWP. The pull lift had not been secured properly within the confines of the basket in that the hook head/snatch block was riding on the basket toe board, potentially on a point of balance, with the actual chain hanging out of the basket itself. As a result, the pull lift fell when the IP moved to the side of the stationary MWEP to take another measurement.

 A further four property/RRV damages were reported on site, which included: 

  • A vandalised MEWP found with its battery stolen at south access. A spare MEWP was used and additional security mobilised to visit the access point periodically.
  • Platform 12’s concourse was damaged by telehandler wheels on an existing UTX, which was undermined due to the weight of blocks. This was covered, barriered and repaired before station handback. 

After commencing working on site at 00:15 on Saturday 6 January 2018, the section of track successfully reopened again at 05:15 on Monday 15 January 2018.

Download your copy of Morson's Safety Matters magazine Summer 2018 to read more about our involvement in the community, health and safety innovation, project wins, top tips and case studies.

Cx Jobs

Maintenance Engineer

Morson Talent are currently recruiting for a Maintenance Engineer on an initial 12 months FTC basis (Likely to be perm for the right candidate) in the Manchester area. Location Manchester Salary £37,000 + 20% uplift for occasional shift work Hours Days based - Occasional cover shift work (6-2 / 2-10) The Person: * NVQ 3 or above in Engineering ESSENTIAL * Multiskilled - Mechanically / Electrically biased * Various backgrounds considered: Manufacturing, Automotive, Food, Distribution Centres, Automated Warehouse, Recycling, Biomass, Packaging or Printing, Chemical Plant, Brewery, Paper, Manufacturing Plant, Electromechanical / Automated Plant. * Health and safety focused, good awareness and a can do attitude. Desirable: * Bottling, material handling, AGV's, stackers, palletisers * Pneumatics, hydraulics The Job: * Assist with breakdowns maintenance and reliability of electromechanical machinery, equipment, and plant. * Maintenance of various sections of the plant - PPM and fault finding * Monitor production process & machinery performance. * Assist with PPM & breakdown. * Continuous improvement If you are interested in a new opportunity and would like to discuss further, please do not hesitate to contact me directly on 07739311930 or reply with an updated CV.

System Engineer

A Systems Engineer contractor is sought for a contract in Stevenage, Hertfordshire for a SATELLITE DIGITAL PROCESSOR SYSTEM ENGINEER position.Our client seek an expert in digital signal processor design and validation to join the design team responsible for the secure telecommand and telemetry system for a military communication satellite.The role requires an all-round grasp of the digital system, which includes both cryptographic and modem equipment, and its hardware implementation in order to support both system analyses and commissioning of prototype hardware. KEY SKILLS / PROVEN ABILITYProven Ability in any or all of the following topics will be valuable -Failure mode and related system analyses: FMEA / FMECA, single event effects and security analysis;Cryptographic processing and associated security functions;Modem functions (modulation and coding);Implementation of reliable digital signal processing hardware;FPGA-based prototyping and debugging;End-to-end RF communication systems testingSector knowledge: Space / Aerospace / Defence / Communications ADDITIONALTravel - Occasional travel to other UK sitesBase of Work - Following a familiarisation period on site this role will be working from home then working on site once COVID restrictions are lifted by the client - candidates must be able to work on site full time when required

Composite Technician - Aerospace Panels

Morson are currently looking for experienced composite technicians for our client for roles based in Stevenage.Job Profile Assembly and final assembly of sandwich aluminium composite panel production. Inclusive of: - Potting of inserts Bonding of various brackets and equipment Film adhesives Panel completion General hot and cold bonding processes Drilling, reaming etc. High tolerance requirements (typically better than 0.05mm in various areas). Experience Essential:- Ability to work from detailed drawings and electronic work instructions - within specific procedures Experience working to procedures with checkpoints/quality gates Previous experience such as mechanical fitter, close tolerance sheet metal worker, time served mechanical technician Experience in industries such as Space/Aerospace/Automotive/Motorsport etc. Ability to work in confined spaces above floor level Desirable:- Knowledge of satellite structure assemblies or similar Modern apprenticeship Clean room experience Shifts Weekly rotating double day shifts - 06:00hrs to 14:00 hrs 14:00 hrs to 22:00 hrs Some weekend working Saturday or Sunday may be required at peak times. Other There will be a skills test at interview The successful candidate will be required to pass BPSS security clearance before confirmation of contract offer. Free parking is provided for this role in a municipal car park located approximately fifteen minutes' walk from site.

Warehouse Operative

Warehouse operative Principal Responsibilities Health and safety: Must ensure that safe working practices as stipulated by the company are adhered to at all times. Undertake any relevant HSE training as required. Picking: Accurately collect parts from various locations within the warehouse without introducing errors. Packing: To consolidate picked goods in a secure manner for direct shipment to external/internal customers. 100% double check on picked items to achieve very high accuracy levels. Dispatch: Consolidate packages on the relevant pallet and prepare for collection, i.e. pallet wrapping / loading into carrier cages. Goods Inwards: Check deliveries for damage and check against the delivery note to ensure that we have received the correct quantities of the correct products. Using Rf scanners Communication: On a day-to-day basis communication between various departments is normal. Responsibility for dealing with day-to-day enquiries in a friendly yet professional manner applies to all logistics staff. Operation of a Powered industrial truck is desirable if operator holds licence and is authorised. Other key links & experience areas Customer Services Manufacturing/Goods In Carriers/Couriers ISC Office Please note that these roles are currently part time hours from 4pm - 8pm.

Skills and qualifications needed for a career in cyber security