Case Study: Midlands Metro

Posted on November 23, 2017
Archive : November 2017
Category : Case Studies

The Midlands Engine has been given a significant boost by this week's budget, with the announcement of a £250 million transport package. This is set to cover a major extension of the Midlands Metro, with a new line planned from Wednesbury to the high-tech enterprise zone at Brierley Hill. We are delighted to see this investment in the region, as we have fond memories of our ground investigation work for the metro's Edgbaston Extension. In this article from the 2015/16 edition of Geotopics, we looked back on over £1.5 million of successful site investigation projects.

Geotechnics Limited has undertaken site investigations on behalf of Centro in the West Midlands since 2004. The works have primarily involved investigation for the extension of the Midland Metro tram network and comprised some 20 projects with a total investigation value in the region of £1.5 million completed to date. 

The works have taken place across the Black Country, Wolverhampton and Central Birmingham, with the most recent project involving Broad Street, Five Ways Underpass and Hagley Road in Central Birmingham as part of the Edgbaston Extension. It is hoped that the tram network will provide the much needed connectivity across Birmingham and link in to the stations which are to be served by HS2. 

The Edgbaston Extension investigation comprised rotary boreholes, foundation inspection pits, dynamic probes, dynamic sample boreholes, concrete/structure coring and static and dynamic plate load tests. The project was complicated by the city centre location, involving works on a major thoroughfare through Birmingham within the popular entertainment area. Through a strong working relationship with the Client, Centro, and the Engineer, Mott Macdonald Limited, the works were carefully planned to incorporate day and night working to minimise disruption in the area, communicating throughout with local businesses to alleviate concerns. The Project Engineer, Steve Chapman and site team lead by Lucy Diaper and supported by Emile Demanou was pleased to receive the following acknowledgement: 

“Work was carried out on Oozells Street in Birmingham today by members of your workforce. This was done on a taxi rank. As a taxi driver who uses that rank I would like to congratulate you. Your workforce were courteous and as helpful as possible to keep us moving around them whilst they carried out their drilling. Most companies do not consider the inconvenience that is caused by this. Your workforce did. Once again, well done to your lads for considering the people around them and keeping the inconvenience to a minimum. They are a credit to you.” 

An extensive site walkover with the Client and Engineer, determined the most practical locations for the exploratory holes and most of the investigation took place within traffic management during normal working hours to avoid disruption from and to the nightlife of Broad Street. 

The investigation within the Five Ways Underpass required a full tunnel closure and took place during night shifts. Challenges included the thickness of surface concrete present in some areas. Specialist concrete corers drilled cores between 300 and 400mm in diameter to a depth of up to 1.30m to enable progression of the exploratory holes and the successful completion of the works. The complex spaghetti of services under this area of central Birmingham posed a major risk and specialist service clearance engineers used CAT scan and GPR at each exploratory hole site to ensure that all services were avoided during the investigation.

This article first appeared in the 2015/16 edition of Geotopics. You can find out about our more recent work in the current edition.

To find out about our ground investigation services in the Midlands, contact Regional Manager David Bland

To enquire about our rig availability throughout the UK, please contact our teams across the country