The South Rail Systems Alliance (SRSA) have successfully completed their eight-week multidisciplinary blockade at Bristol Temple Meads station.

The Bristol East blockade involves the overhaul of Bristol East Junction (BEJ) and the multiple railway lines towards BTM station.

The SRSA provided a turnkey solution for clients, Network Rail, through their involvement from concept stage through to successful delivery of the project programme.  

Here’s a snapshot of the works completed by the SRSA’s business units.

Track Renewals

The bulk of the programme is the comprehensive renewal of the multiple lines feeding into the station.

Hired as Principal Contractor for the scheme, the SRSA were responsible for managing site inductions, controlling site access, logistics and security, as well as managing health and safety close calls.

In total, the SRSA completed the following:

  • Recovery of 58 S&C units and installation of 50 new units
  • Provision of full 4 tracks from Filton into Bristol Temple Meads
  • Additional renewal of 3 tracks and 2 turnouts in Kingsland Road
  • Upgrading Bristol East Depot for Cross country stabling
  • Managing all worksites through Bristol East Junction

Due to the scale of the project, the SRSA had up to 50 engineering trains in use on site, 21,000 tonnes of ballast placed, 240m of plain line track fitted, over 300 track panels installed and over 800 welds completed via the 17,000 shifts completed by the site team through the blockade (usually up to 300 staff on site at any one time).

Time lapse cameras were set up to document the phases of the track renewals, with both phases completed over the 8-week period.

The team also benefitted from a large range of sustainable tools on site, including battery powered stressing kits, an electric powered Telehandler, with hybrid generators and solar powered battery recharge stations located throughout the site provided by Sunbelt Rentals UK.


Supporting Signalling contractor ALSTOM, during the first stage of works the SRSA installed:

  • 27 end of High Performing Switch System points
  • 2 ends of hand points
  • 1 point conversion
  • 1 Cantilever structure
  • 16 new signals
  • 11 straight posts
  • 5 Ground Position Lights
  • 3 Location Cabinet suites
  • Cabling
  • Cable routes
  • Data change
  • Signalling stageworks

The team also initially completed a rough set up to allow for stone to be dropped and the tamping to be undertaken. They subsequently completed the fine set up and worked through the site checking for any snags on the points before handing them over to ALSTOM.

The signalling team’s scope subsequently expanded as the programme progressed, as they were asked to complete the installation of all 4ft equipment, Axle counters, Train Protection & Warning System and Automatic Warning Systems as well as supplying a number of S&T teams direct to ALSTOM to install other signalling equipment.


Utilising our Rail Services division, 2 Colas Rail UK Unimat tampers have been completing parallel tamping across freshly renewed track.

The Tampers in question have been converted to trial System 7, a form of automatic hydraulic tamping bank that reduces vibration compared to conventional tamping. This in turn minimises noise pollution and dust for our lineside neighbours.

The reduced vibration of System 7 also maintains the Tampers at peak performance with less wear and tear and the automatic functions allow the operators to focus on other tasks.

The other advantage to the system is the computer Inframe which can identify tamping pyramid uniformity of sleeper stiffness.

The current trial of System 7 is a first for UK railways.

Civil Works

The civil works team were engaged to enable the start of the blockade, with initial works starting in early June on the installation of the safe walking routes, temporary access points and the viewing platform to enable site staff and train drivers to safely navigate through BEJ and to the Bristol East Depot.

As the programme progressed the civils works team also handled the renovations of the various platforms at BTM, undertaking platform gauging improvements and adjusting the platform coping stones.

Utilising existing materials, the team reused coping stones in good condition and replaced ones that were damaged as a sustainable solution.

The scope subsequently expanded, with the team refreshing the platform lines and signage found along the platforms.

Following the completion of the blockade, the materials used to set up the temporary access point at Dings Park will be recycled into planters and used to regenerate the local area as part of an SRSA community event.

Power Supply

The Power Supply team have been working on a variety of works including:

  • Low Voltage terminations into Substations to supply the Electrification & Power works at Bristol East Junction
  • Installations of 2 Bespoke Distribution Network Operators cubicles
  • 7 Points Heating Supply Cubicles
  • 50 Points Heating Transformers
  • Stripping and clipping of over 47 Point Ends for the installations of the Points Heating
  • Temporary low-level lighting installations at Bristol East Depot
  • Buffer stop lighting

Bristol East Depot Renewal

Utilising a variety of business units, the SRSA collaborated to bring a variety of improvements to the Bristol East Depot located on site.

In summary, our units provided the following benefits:

Track Renewals – Our track renewals team renewed a siding with serviceable materials.

E&P – E&P set up low level lighting to assist with site inspections, as well as this they also installed tower lighting and linked lighting to ensure safe walking routes were visible when arriving and leaving site.

S&T – Our S&T team were on hand to swap the handing of a set of hand points, enabling them to be used safely at the depot.

Civils Works – Last but not least, our Civil Works team were called into action to repair the footpath of the Whitby Road viaduct, that bridges over the River Avon.

The team also installed new footpaths through the depot to allow the train drivers safe access and perform inspections on any trains situated.

Speaking about the success of the blockade, Network Rail Track Programme Director, Brian Paynter said “Credit to the SRSA, they have done a fantastic job not only completing their scope on time, but taking on additional scope for me at short notice and changing their own plans at very short notice.

“The Alliance have done a fantastic job as the lead Principal Contractor and given the way the job has gone. This has probably been the best site I have seen from a P-Way Engineer perspective in my 33 years on this railway and Richard Flanagan (SRSA Bristol East Project Manager) has been fantastic, as have his whole team.”

The SRSA is comprised of Colas Rail, Network Rail and AECOM, an alliance created to deliver a portfolio of works across the southern region of the UK over a 10-year period.