Select Committee on Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 12300 - 12319)

  12300. Do you want to say anything more about the operational problems arising from an extension to Reading in so far as the proposed metro service is concerned?
  (Mr Berryman) The further out you go the more chance there is of disruption to services when they get into town, so the more difficult it is to keep accurate time keeping and keep trains presenting within the very narrow window we have available for them to do so.

  12301. That is Reading. Let us go the other way now. Can you just help the Committee with the possibility of terminating the service before Maidenhead, for example at Slough?
  (Mr Berryman) The problem if we went to Slough would be the difficulty of providing sufficient trains to service the area beyond Slough, those are the small stations of Maidenhead and Twyford, which would mean we would have to operate a much more intense residual diesel service to serve those stations and it would mean that we would be short of capacity as we would get into London because we would have our Crossrail trains and in addition we would have the extra trains required to serve the demand between Slough and Reading. At the moment we only have a relatively small number of those trains because we are effectively servicing only one station, which is Twyford, but if we were to stop at Slough and have ten more of those that would lead to capacity problems and also certainly a requirement for additional tracks as we got into the centre of London.

  12302. As the Petitioner mentioned, we have set out the selection of the western terminus and the process whereby that was undertaken in Information Paper A6.[24] I wonder if we could put that up, please. If we could turn to page five you can see at the bottom of the page the Maidenhead to Heathrow option and the summary position in relation to that that begins at the bottom of the page. If we turn to the next page, page six, the assessment of the option is dealt with in summary in paragraphs 5.17 to 5.20 and the conclusion in section 6. Do you want to say anything about the point made that there does not appear to have been any investigative assessment of Maidenhead in terms of the benefits it would bring to passengers accessing that station and, indeed, at other stations to the east along the western section of the route?

  (Mr Berryman) Yes. There was a significant amount of work done on the various options out on Great Western before we arrived at this decision. Effectively there were three things looked at together: first of all the options, how a timetable would work and how sufficient services could be provided; secondly, the passenger numbers which were based on analysis using the standard model used for all our passenger analysis; and, thirdly, the infrastructure and costs required. This is covered not only in this Information Paper but in the Environmental Statement there is a short section on this topic.

  12303. Thank you very much. If the Petitioners would like help in that section we can point the relevant section out to them during the adjournment. I think we have covered points arising under topic one. The next topic I would like you to deal with relates to Guards Club Park and island. Can you help us with the suggestion that the more appropriate means of serving works at the Maidenhead Bridge would be from a barge located adjacent to the bridge on the River Thames?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, I can. The reason Mr Mould has asked me to give evidence on this point is I have had experience of a similar project. I am sorry to say it was as long ago as 1968 when we were building the M6 motorway when we had a similar situation with a bridge pier on an island. Regrettably it was a bridge which had not reached the architectural elegance of the Maidenhead Bridge, and was never likely to, I am sorry to say. Using barge access to islands is practical and if the scale of works is appropriate it is a sensible way to do it, but where the scale of the works is relatively modest the effort required to create the barge landings on the island and to handle materials on and off the barge is disproportionate to the amount of work that is involved. I think that would be the case in this instance because the works, as evidence will be given later, on the island are very minor. We are actually talking about carrying equipment by hand in maximum 25kg loads. It is just not commensurate with the effort that would be required to build a landing stage on the island and to arrange for barges and the inconvenience that it would involve, which would be very considerable.

  12304. I do not think that the Petitioners' concern was limited to the use of the island, I think the suggestion was that a barge would be a complete alternative to the need for a worksite to be located within Guards Club Park itself. Do you want to say anything about the practicality of that as an alternative to that part of the construction proposals?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes. There are two piers which will require scaffolding to be erected on them in Guards Club Park, so even if you have a barge to access the island you would still have to get into Guards Club Park one way or another, material would still have to be delivered. I cannot think that it would be sensible to deliver it other than by road in that location because you are on the service and you have access to roads. Again, it is the scale of the works that is important and they are very modest works.

  12305. I showed the Committee earlier the layout of the plan which showed four scaffolding towers required just to the south of Guards Club Park itself on the western bank of the river, is that right?[25]

  (Mr Berryman) That is correct, yes, two on the north side and two on the south side of the bridge.

  12306. In relation to those scaffolding towers, if you assume for the purpose of this question that proposal for Maidenhead Bridge stands on overhead electrification, can the overhead electrification equipment that I showed the Committee earlier be installed on the bridge without the need for those scaffolding towers?
  (Mr Berryman) Just to make it clear, the actual installation of the equipment, the delivery of the masts, the erection of them, the putting up of the wire, will be done from an electrification train, it will not be done using these scaffolds for access. The reason for needing to have the scaffold is to allow manpower access to get at the foundations which will be required for the masts. It is the construction of the mast foundations rather than the masts themselves which require this access. We may have to do some very, very minor works to the parapets, we are not clear yet because we have got further work to do on that, but we may need to dismantle a very short section of the parapet and replace that afterwards with the same materials. We are talking about access for men only, not delivering any substantial equipment by this route for the obvious reason that the maximum load they can carry is 25kg.

  12307. Mrs Riordan: It could be women.
  (Mr Berryman) There actually are, yes.

  12308. Mr Mould: That is the first phase of the process I have described, that is the foundation structure phase, as opposed to the second phase which is where you are installing the equipment itself.
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, that is correct. Actually, if you like, there is a preliminary phase where there are some high tension cables on the bridge which will need to be moved. Most of that operation will be done from within the bridge but, again, it remains for manpower or womanpower access up to it.

  12309. Just a small point. In relation to the possibility of using a barge at least to serve part of the works, in practice how would one get men on the barge in order to work from it?
  (Mr Berryman) You would have to have a loading stage somewhere. You would still have the issue of where the barge was loaded. The scale of the works is such that a single barge load would probably take everything you need across. I cannot emphasise enough that we are talking about equipment which is handled by people, it is not big mechanical plant or anything of that sort.

  12310. That is the fourth issue. The fifth issue was the question of why gantries at all on the Maidenhead Bridge and the suggestion was a more appropriate alternative to safeguard the bridge's sensitive architectural and historic value would be third rail electrification. Can you help the Committee with that, please?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes. The third rail electrification system exists mainly on the old southern region of British Rail. HMRI have taken the view for many years that new third rail systems will not be permitted. Extensions of the existing system are allowed but new third rail systems are not permitted. The reason for this is to do with the safety of the track workers. It goes without saying that a third rail system with an exposed high voltage rail grounded at foot level is intrinsically more dangerous than an overhead system which can be touched by accident. There was a Royal Commission in the 1930s which initially decided that there should be no more third rail. Subsequently in the 1960s there was a further study which reinforced that decision. I do not think we would get consent for this even if we wanted to propose it. It would be extremely dangerous to have a short length of third rail in the middle of what would otherwise be an electrified overhead line system because track workers who are working there would be less familiar with that system. It is a pretty solid rule of safety that you keep things consistent, and this would not be consistent. For that reason we would strongly oppose the third rail.

  12311. Is there a European dimension to this?
  (Mr Berryman) There is indeed. As you mentioned, there is an Interoperability Directive which does apply to Great Western Main Line which calls for 25,000 volt electrification of railways.

  12312. If one was to contemplate seeking to depart from that standard, what would be involved? How would one go about that?
  (Mr Berryman) These things are ruled by documents called Technical Specifications and you would have to get a derogation from that. It is a major operation to get a derogation. It is usually only granted where there is absolutely no possibility of complying with the regulations.

  12313. I showed the Committee the example of the Wharncliffe viaduct.[26]

  (Mr Berryman) Yes. I think there is the Royal Border bridge in Berwick-upon-Tweed which is a similar kind of structure, I think it is Grade I listed, where similar kinds of masts have been used. There are many precedents for this on Grade I and Grade II listed structures. The key thing is to try and make the design look as if it is an integral part of the whole structure, not just plonk it on top but try and treat it sympathetically and make the appearance of the overall structure, including the masts, satisfactory. You can see on this picture they have done it on the Wharncliffe by making sure that the masts are over piers and give the sort of symmetrical appearance to it. That is the normal process adopted.

  12314. That is what we are proposing in this case.
  (Mr Berryman) It is indeed.

  12315. Mr Mould: Thank you very much.

  Cross-examined by Mr Cockburn

  12316. Mr Cockburn: Dealing with the question of Reading, if at some stage in the future it is intended to extend Crossrail to Reading, would it be cheaper to do that now rather than wait until later?
  (Mr Berryman) Not materially. Indeed, it could be cheaper to do it later because there are re-signalling proposals for Reading station and the area between Reading and Maidenhead. If that was done that would reduce the cost of the works to us. There are no significant savings in doing all this at the same time, other than those which are caused by not having to mobilise twice and so on, which are relatively minor.

  12317. So it is only Crossrail costs that you are looking at; it is not anybody else's costs that you are taking into consideration here.
  (Mr Berryman) Well, the costs which will be incurred for re-signalling are part of the normal re-signalling process which goes cyclic through the railway network.

  12318. Are you aware that Reading is already a transport hub with all the necessary facilities, services and connections of a transport hub?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, it is a transport hub. It has a very, very good service to central London, as you will be aware, provided by the Intercity trains. It is for that reason we think that we would not attract very many passengers on to Crossrail.

  12319. Are you aware that the people of Reading are calling for the terminus to be at Reading?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, they are.

24   Crossrail Information Paper A6-Selection Of Western Termini, Back

25   Crossrail Ref: P102, Maidenhead Railway Bridge-Compound Locations (WINSRB-14604A-001). Back

26   Crossrail Ref: P102, Maidenhead Railway Bridge-Wharncliffe Viaduct and Close up of mast (WINSRB-14604D-007). Back

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