Transport for London (TfL) has resumed work on a number of its construction projects, with more restarting in the coming weeks, as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown eases.
Work came to a Safe Stop at around 300 TfL sites in late as the pandemic took hold. Since then, design and other preparatory work on many of these projects has continued, with staff and many of TfL’s contractors working from home.
Now, site preparation to accommodate social distancing and construction work will safely begin in a phased way on a number of transport infrastructure projects, including major capacity improvements and extensions such as the Northern line extension to Battersea, the Bank station capacity upgrade and the extension of London Overground to the new housing development at Barking Riverside.
Working closely with its contractors and supply chain, TfL is introducing a range of changes to ensure sites can reopen as safely and quickly as possible and help all workers stay safe and maintain social distancing. These include:
- Staggered shifts and breaks to spread journeys outside peak periods and prevent large groups;
- Clear signage for social distancing and one-way walking routes;
- Additional staff welfare areas;
- Additional hand-washing facilities and sanitising stations;
- Reconfigured canteens and access to personal hand sanitisers.
As part of these changes, all sites will have a reduced number of people working at any one time. Some sites will have an additional site supervisor, to ensure social distancing is maintained, and welfare wardens, who will control access to common areas and changing facilities to make sure they do not become crowded.
Every effort is being made to keep deliveries to sites to a minimum. Any delivery drivers must now enter sites with windows wound up and, instead of signing for goods being delivered, photographs are being taken.
TfL director of major projects Stuart Harvey said: “Our number-one priority is always the safety of staff on our sites as well as the surrounding communities.
“We have carefully developed our plans and adapted our worksites by working closely with our supply chain.
“It is a positive step that work can safely recommence on upgrades and key transport infrastructure projects that are so vital for the capital. We will continue to keep activity at all sites under review and ensure we continuously evaluate and improve our approach with safety at the forefront of all that we do.”
Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport, added: “It’s really positive that work can now safely resume on key transport infrastructure projects, which will help to kickstart London’s economic recovery.
“It’s vital that construction workers make journeys to sites on foot or by bike, if at all possible, in order to keep services safe for those who really need it. If workers have to travel on public transport, I’m pleased that our plans for staggered shifts will help them avoid the busiest times.”
The industry has also welcomed the restart of work. Darren Caplan of the Railway Industry Association said: “It is very positive news that Transport for London have begun a phased approach to restarting projects, including the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade and the Northern Line Extension.
“As these projects restart, RIA and its members call on TfL to work even more closely with rail businesses – throughout the country – who are working on London rail projects, so we can work even more collaboratively together to deliver effectively for customers – both passengers and freight – on the capital’s and surrounding network.”
TfL is also investigating options to allow the construction sector to privately hire river boats and provide transport for workers at construction sites accessible from the river.
As work resumes, TfL will assess what effect the new ways of working will have on delivery schedules for the individual projects, subject to longer-term funding being received.
Opportunities to restart work on other projects continue to be reviewed across TfL’s capital delivery programme. Plans at present include:
- A phased restart to work on Bank Station capacity upgrade, the Northern line extension, Four Lines Modernisation (4LM), Barking Riverside extension and the renovation of the Central line fleet.
- Work will also resume on some step-free access improvements at stations including Cockfosters, Harrow on the Hill, Mill Hill East and Wimbledon Park, as well as station enhancements at Bromley by Bow, Finsbury Park, Knightsbridge and Tottenham Hale.
- Asset renewal works on DLR, Trams and London Overground are also due to restart.
- A resumption of physical work at Crossrail sites, with all of them continuing to observe strict social distancing and the numbers of people at each location strictly limited at all times.