WSP wins rail impact remit

WSP Group has been appointed by Network Rail to act as the independent planning monitoring officer on construction of the Airdrie-Bathgate rail link.

Network Rail is reopening the passenger rail link 50 years after it closed. The £300 million project also involves upgrading the existing lines between Bathgate and Edinburgh and between Airdrie and Drumgelloch.

Construction is due to start early next year and be completed by the end of 2010. WSP will liaise with the local authorities, mandatory consultees and Network Rail to ensure that the works meet all environmental laws and commitments identified in the environmental impact assessment.

WSP senior consultant Andrew Mitchell said: "This role is to provide the councils and consultees with the assurance that Network Rail and its contractor are complying with the required environmental standards.

"This is the first time that such a role has been carried out on a new rail construction project in Scotland so it is a ground-breaking opportunity for WSP," he noted. It would draw on the consultancy's wider technical expertise in rail and transport schemes as well as environmental skills, he said.

Environmental challenges include minimising the effects of construction traffic, protecting wildlife, designing out noise and vibration from the line and organising the diversion of gas and electricity utilities. "It is vital that we get the right advice and guidance," stressed Network Rail Scottish director Ron McAulay.

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