Mike Brooke writing in the East London Advertiser reports that more than half the tonnage of materials being used to build London’s 2012 Olympics site is being transported by rail.

The Olympics Delivery Authority is beating its target for keeping construction materiel and associated supplies off the congested roads of East London. The target set out in the ODA’s Sustainable Development Strategy published in 2007 stated that 50 per cent of materials (by weight) would be transported by rail or water. The latest figures, however, show that the ODA is currently achieving 57 per cent of deliveries by weight over rail alone.

The ODA now has three fully operational logistics centres that allow thousands of daily deliveries to the Olympic Park to be managed as effectively as possible, with minimum impact upon the local environment and the community.

In addition to deliveries by rail and water, the ODA has established two off-site logistics centres in order to hold, screen and process vehicles, allocating them a specific time to make their deliveries to the Olympic Park to minimise road congestion.

The Barking Logistics Centre opened earlier this year, and manages all vehicles coming to the Olympic Park from the south and east. A second logistics centre in Chigwell, to be established on the M11, will manage vehicles travelling in from the north and west.

Water-borne despatch and delivery is still developing. Dredging begins in May of the nearby tributaries of the River Lea alongside the Olympics Park between Bow and Hackney Wick. These slowly silted up in past decades, but contractors hope that after Prescott Lock opens early this summer, 350-tonne barges will have access into the site.

Batching Plant – photo by sludgegulper

The rail freight facilities within the Olympic Park currently manage the delivery and removal of thousands of tonnes of bulk aggregate products for concrete production, and fill material for the Olympic Park on a daily basis. 

The Bow East Logistics Centre, based on the former Midland Railway sidings at Bow Midland Yard, opposite the DLR’s Pudding Mill Lane station, can also handle multi-modal product shipments like sand, steel, cable reels, pallets and containers. Prior to its absorption into the Olympic infrastructure, the site was one of a very small number of general freight terminals in the London area. Three businesses, serviced by EWS trains, were located at Bow Midland Yard.

David Higgins, the ODA’s Chief Executive said:

We have set tough targets on sustainability that we are currently exceeding. To have 57 per cent of materials by weight delivered to site by sustainable means on a project of this scale is a real achievement. By switching road deliveries to rail, we have significantly reduced traffic and pollution on the roads around the Olympic Park. We are aware of the increased difficulty maintaining this record.

As construction moves from major structural work to the more detailed fit out phases, not only will the number of individual deliveries increase but also there will be a reduction in overall load weight thereby reducing rail’s comparative advantage.

As discussed earlier in this blog, once its contribution to the Olympics is over, Bow Midland Yard is destined for a future life as a major work site for Crossrail. Building Crossrail work entails moving the existing southernmost mainline track serving Liverpool Street station and the DLR tracks further south. 

As a result of this latter movement, it is also necessary to relocate the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) Pudding Mill Lane station. The approach ramps and launch chambers for the Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) will be located on the island site created by moving these tracks. 
The worksite to the south on the Heron Industrial Estate will be used for the track and station works, as well as for the welfare facilities and workshops to service the TBMs while driving the main running tunnels. The worksite to the north of the GEML tracks will be used for handling the materials for the main tunnel drives. 
It is currently planned that the excavated spoil will be transferred from the tunnel drives along the eastern side of the River Lea by conveyor and through to Bow Midland Yard, where it will be stockpiled and transferred to trains prior to dispatch to land reclamation projects in the Thames estuary. 
These trains will access the yard via the existing connections with the GEML and the tracks within the yard will be reconfigured to suit the loading of this material. Pre-cast tunnel segments will be delivered to Bow Midland Yard West, from where they will most likely be transferred to the tunneling works by road. Crossrail will not need the site permanently and will vacate the site once construction is complete. 
As the 2007 and the Network Rail Freight RUS both note, rail connected logistics sites are at a premium in London and demand, as evidenced by the presentations in support of the Howbury Park and Brent Cross Cricklewood Regeneration programmes, is increasing. The Stratford Olympic construction programme is not intended to be an end in itself but the start of an ongoing redevelopment programme. 
No doubt, the ghosts of S W Johnson’s engines will be clanking round Bow Midland Yard for sometime yet.
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There are 3 comments on this article
  1. Olympic park says:

    I would require more information on how the construction waste and materials of the olympic park were delivered to and off site

  2. Anonymous says:

    What is the future of this site? With development on the GEML and redevelopment in the surrounding area?

  3. Paul says:

    It was re-instated for its former use wasn’t it?

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