Airdrie to Bathgate Rail Link

Soil Engineering Geoservices Limited were appointed by Network Arial to undertake the Ground and Site Investigations for the Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link project.

The new rail link between Airdrie and Bathgate was to provide a fast public transportation system between Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, West Lothian and Edinburgh. The new route will not only help provide a vital link to Glasgow and Edinburgh for communities in Central Scotland but will be a welcome alternative to the congested M8/A8 road routes. The rail link will re-open a 23km (15mile) double-tracked and electrified railway between Drumgelloch Station and Bathgate, which was closed in 1982. After its closure the railway line became a public footpath and cycle path and is now a core section of the Clyde to Forth cycle route (National Cycle Route 75). The cycle path is to be relocated as part of the project to encourage an integrated transport system along the route. The line will be accessed by two new stations, two relocated stations and three upgraded stations and is due to be open and fully operational by 2010.

Soil Engineering Solution

Soil Engineering mobilised to site in early December 2007 with the deployment of 20 drilling and boring rigs and a field staff of 40, supplied predominantly from Soil Engineering’s in-house resources. Initially programmed for 19 weeks on site it became clear that this would not be the sufficient because of the complexity of the work and the extent of mining remediation works required. Following initial investigations, Network Rail therefore altered the scope of the works, requiring the mining remediation investigation package to be more detailed with 1 out of every 3 open holed boreholes to be cored.

The site investigation works were undertaken to determine subsurface ground and groundwater conditions along the route of the proposed new railway line and associated structures.

The investigation comprised:

Exploratory Hole


Maximum Depth

Total Meters

Cable Percussive 282 28.1m 1645
Window Sampler 146 13.0m 2083
Rotary Drilling 83 55.3m 9532
Concrete Coring 185 2.7m 269
Mechanically Excavated Trial Pits 422 5.0m 947
Dynamic Probing Holes 467 11.0m 593

The sheer size and complexity of the 15 mile long site already presented Soil Engineering’s Management and Site Agent with numerous logistical problems complicated by the environmentally sensitive nature of much of the area; the problems of working around badgers and otters as well as producing access protocols for work to be undertaken in areas containing Giant Hog Weed and Japanese Knot Weed were a real challenge.

The scheme primarily involved works on the old railway and at each end of the proposed route improvements where works had to be undertaken on the existing railway lines. This necessitated working on the live railway under possession conditions using multiple rigs. A structural investigation of the many under and over bridges of the existing railway was undertaken using horizontal and angled concrete coring techniques with hand pitting and trenching. This work necessitated a combination of traffic management and night time possession of the railway line and often the erection of working platforms, all arranged by Soil Engineering. Network Rail further capitalised on the contractors organisation and methodical approach to the works and requested that they also undertake a utility survey as part of the main works, involving the hand excavation of 38 trial pits and trenches to locate services within the deck of over bridges where deck levels will have to be raised to accommodate the cables of the electrified lines.

Soil Engineering Value

Tendered in 2007, cost was, as always, a major factor in the award criteria on the scheme. However, the quality of proposal and product offered by Soil Engineering was a significant factor in the award decision. Network Rail and consulting engineer Scott Wilson were impressed with Soil Engineering’s proposal to hit the site works hard and fast, whilst being fully appreciative and sympathetic to local communities, local site conditions and the environment, which contained areas of potentially contaminated land, various protected flora and fauna including badgers, otters and newts as well as large areas of Giant Hog Weed and Japanese Knot Weed.

  • Additional works requested during the site works period resulted in the original programme more than doubling to 40 weeks.
  • The final scope of works involved Soil Engineering undertaking over 2200 exploratory holes.
  • 85% of the factual report for the works was delivered prior to completion of site works.
  • The full report was delivered 2 weeks after the completion of the site works.

Soil Engineering’s flexible and adaptable approach ensured the timely delivery of this very complex and sizeable project.


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