Sustainable Rail construction Leeds Station

Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) Leeds Station Capacity

Sustainable Rail construction Leeds Station

BREEAM Infrastructure Version 6 – Whole Project Assessment Rating: Excellent

Version 6, 2023 | UK

Assessed by: Alex Peters, Grace McCormack, Jacobs
Verified by: Rachel Waggett – SBS Environmental Ltd
Client:Network Rail
Designer: Atkins, Amey Consulting
Contractor: Buckingham Group Contracting Limited, Amey Sersa S&C North Alliance, Balfour Beatty Central Rail Systems Alliance

Project summary

The Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) is a major, multi-billion-pound programme of railway improvements that will provide better, more sustainable journeys to passengers travelling across the Pennines between Manchester on the west and cities on the east including Leeds and York. The Transpennine route spans 70 miles, 23 stations and nearly 30 level crossings. Due to its size, the programme of work has been divided into several multi-disciplinary projects. All TRU projects are being assessed using BREEAM Infrastructure (V6) to create an amalgamated programme score and rating. Leeds Station Capacity is the first project to be completed as part of the TRU programme.

Leeds Station Capacity created Platform 0, the station’s first new platform in nearly 20 years. Helping to increase capacity in the third busiest station within the UK (outside of London), Platform 0 can accommodate trains which are formed of up to 8, 24m length carriages and required the re-alignment of Platform 1. In addition to this, a new running line was created with additional rail switches and crossings to improve the functionality of Platforms 0, 1, 2 and 3. Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) was also installed on Platform 0 and renewed across the other platforms to run the wires that will carry the electricity that powers the electric trains. The project minimises the bottleneck on the western approach to Leeds Station, reducing congestion and supporting the overall aim of TRU, improving passenger journeys, and reducing carbon through electrification.

The project was delivered in a highly collaborative environment, with Network Rail as the Project Management Organisation / Client and Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd as the Principal Contractor. Atkins was the Lead Designer and Amey Consulting as the rail infrastructure Designer. The S&C North Alliance / Central Rail Systems Alliance was the Responsible Contractor for Track and OLE construction. Jacobs supported all organisations involved by managing and completing the BREEAM Infrastructure Assessment.

The project was initially assessed under BREEAM Infrastructure (Pilot) at Strategy and Project Detail (Interim), before completing an equivalency exercise where the Construction Stage was assessed against BREEAM Infrastructure V6.


Sustainable Infrastructure Network Rail work at Leeds Railway Station
Network Rail work at Leeds Railway Station, Christmas Day and Boxing Day 2019

Financial benefits

In your view, has BREEAM Infrastructure represented value for money?

BREEAM Infrastructure has represented value for money on Leeds Station (and the wider TRU programme) due to how it’s been implemented. The programme is aiming to secure the desired ‘Excellent’ rating in the most cost-effective way to ensure value for money is also delivered.

A gap analysis confirmed that a significant portion of evidence for the BREEAM Infrastructure Assessment would be created through the delivery of Network Rail’s Environment and Social Minimum Requirements (NR/L2/ENV/015) and the enhanced TRU Sustainability Requirements (E.g. TRU Biodiversity Strategy, TRU Social Value Requirements) (Figure 1). In addition to this, multiple cost mitigation measures are embedded into the project:

  • Prioritising BREEAM Infrastructure Assessment criteria which deliver multiple benefits to maximise value for money.
  • Clear BREEAM Infrastructure requirements for the design and construction organisations involved.
  • Supporting the design and construction organisations when procuring specialist services.
  • Training targeted at different roles (E.g. BREEAM Infrastructure for design).
  • Implementing the BREEAM Infrastructure ‘Sense Check’ process, where specific BREEAM Infrastructure requirements can be de-scoped or derogated if they are not considered value for money.


Sustainable infrastructure work at Leeds station


Major successes

Leeds Station Capacity Project is the first BREEAM Infrastructure V6 Whole Project Award for Network Rail which represents a huge success.

The project achieved an impressive score of 98% under the Communities and Stakeholders assessment category due to the extensive stakeholder consultation carried out and various social initiatives that were undertaken on the project centred around Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and charitable volunteering.

A community engagement programme involving a series of consultation events and activities was developed to ensure dialogue was maintained with key stakeholders throughout the project duration. In terms of the local community, the project team arranged information events which provided residents with the opportunity to ask questions about upcoming works. Regular meetings took place with the Train Operating Companies (TOCs) and businesses that use Leeds Station, providing the opportunity to be involved in decision-making where appropriate. Several technical specialists were also consulted including the British Transport Police on security matters and the Built Environment Access Panel on accessibility as required by the Diversity Impact Assessment undertaken. The outcomes of the consultation were carefully considered, and action was taken within project decision making and design.

STEM Ambassadors on the project developed strong relationships with local schools and colleges, arranging site visits such as the visit by pupils from Leeds City Academy. Visiting pupils were taking part in the Engineering Development Trust Go4Set programme which offers young people in Year 8/9 the opportunity to gain insight into exciting projects to stimulate their interest in STEAM, raising awareness of how studying these subjects can lead to a rewarding career. The visit consisted of a project overview, the opportunity to meet the project team and a visit to platform 1 at the station and the compound. The visit was a great success and really appreciated by pupils and staff.

As well as STEM engagement, project team members volunteered their time for local causes including collecting donations at Leeds Station for the local charity, St George’s Crypt. This charity works with homeless and vulnerable people offering them a safe and warm place to stay, providing meals and clean clothing and access to medical support. This aligned closely with Network Rail’s selected societal issue for Control Period (CP) 6 which was ‘routes out of homelessness’ as Network Rail recognises that homelessness has clear links to railway safety, passenger safety and satisfaction as well as suicide prevention.

Sustainable infrastructure Charity Collection At Leeds Station
Charity Collection At Leeds Station

The project achieved an Exemplary score of 40+ in all three site visits under the Considerate Contractors Scheme. The Monitor’s site report recognised the site as high performing and congratulated the team for their achievement and continued support in driving the scheme objectives.

Resource efficiency workshops were completed with the design and construction teams to identify opportunities to improve material resource efficiency and reduce waste. The track design team engaged with Network Rail to downgrade the track from Category 2 to a Category 4 and designed in a sand replacement geotextile, reducing the quantity of materials used. In addition to this, two OLE portals were modified to Twin Track Cantilevers (TTCs) and four OLE structures were removed. These changes resulted the over 144.2 tCO2e being saved (Table 1). As well as material optimisation, opportunities for material re-use were identified and successfully implemented. For example, 60 tonnes of crushed MOT Type 1 used by the Central Rail Systems Alliance during the OLE works was reused on site by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd as backfill material. The success of this collaboration between organisations lead to 23.5 tCO2e being saved as it removed the need for more materials and additional transportation costs (Table 1).


Material Saving Quantity (t) Emission Factor Carbon Saving (tCO2e)
Ballast (Granite) 282 0.39 109.98
Sleepers (Concrete) 29.8 0.11 3.19
Sub-base (Sand) 970 0.01 5.04
OLE (Steel) 9 2.89 26.01
MOT Type 1 (Crushed Granite) 60 0.39 23.40

Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd demolished the existing platform and canopy. Whilst the canopy itself had no designation associated, the Victorian canopy columns were identified as being of local interest to rail enthusiasts. Subsequently, an opportunity was identified to donate the columns to a rail heritage group for potential reuse. The columns were carefully removed and ten were successfully donated to the Bolton Heritage Railway.

Further information

What were the main challenges for the project / contract and how were these overcome?

Over 20 million people use Leeds Station every year, it’s the third busiest UK station outside of London and is very constrained spatially between the River Aire, Leeds – Liverpool Canal and buildings such as residential and office developments. This made the design and construction very challenging. Platform 0 was built on part of the Leeds Station Riverside Car Park, which was owned by Network Rail, immediately adjacent to Platform 1. This meant closing the car park to local businesses and passengers during construction and ensuring the design minimised the number of spaces permanently lost to Platform 0. Providing information about the car park closure was vital, clear signage was installed and the Network Rail website for Leeds Station explained that temporarily there was no public car parking at Leeds Station. Disabled parking was still available in the multi-storey car park. Information on the website also provided information on alternative parking options.


The compound was temporarily built on the Leeds Station Riverside Car Park, for ease of track access and to allow the civil construction team to build Platform 0. Compound space was limited, so to benefit as much as possible from the space, the layout was changed as the construction progressed. A lot of pre-fabrication of components such as the OLE occurred off site and was delivered to site on installation day. Large machinery such as the crane used to install the OLE gantries required a highway assessment to be completed for the road bridge over the River Aire. Due to the compact nature, construction colleagues parked at satellite locations and minibuses transported them to the compound. The Project Team tried to minimise the impact on station users as much as possible.


During the track and OLE construction by S&C North Alliance, the Control Period 6 (CP6) track contract transferred to the Central Rail Systems Alliance (in mid-2019). Impacted colleagues involved with the track and OLE transferred to their new employer under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006. Colleagues were supported as they navigated the change and learnt about their new parent company’s policies and procedures. New colleagues joining the project were also briefed on sustainability requirements such as achieving BREEAM Infrastructure ‘Excellent’.


The COVID-19 pandemic posed a significant challenge to the design and construction at Leeds Capacity as people were asked to stay at home, a matter of weeks before a rail construction blockade in May 2020. Keeping colleagues safe was paramount and very difficult given how much was unknown about the virus and how information was changing daily. The team adapted, by holding meetings virtually or outside, adhering to social distancing requirements, wearing additional PPE and checking their temperature before starting work. In addition to this, the construction teams worked in ‘bubbles’, with the same colleagues on multiple shifts to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and shift times were staggered to reduce the number of construction operatives signing in and out at the same time. After a trial, the Central Rail Systems Alliance also started installing temporary joints using only one operative. The Project Team continued to deliver the project on time through the global pandemic.


There have also been challenges due to the change in BREEAM Infrastructure methodology. TRU made the decision to use BREEAM Infrastructure (Pilot) and target a rating of ‘Excellent’ in 2017. Leeds Station was assessed under BREEAM Infrastructure (Pilot) at Strategy and Project Detail (Interim) stage achieving a score over the 70% required for an ‘Excellent’ rating. When BRE Global announced the release of CEEQUAL V6 (renamed BREEAM Infrastructure V6), the new methodology was reviewed in relation to TRU to assess the implications. The review process looked at the level of recognition, cost implications, sustainability themes and the effectiveness of assurance. The review process concluded no significant impact and as a result the TRU programme transitioned to CEEQUAL V6 (BREEAM Infrastructure). Based on previously submitted evidence as part of the Strategy and Project Detail (Interim) assessments completed using BREEAM Infrastructure (Pilot), equivalent assessment criteria were awarded through CEEQUAL V6 (BREEAM Infrastructure) in October 2022.

What were the drivers and perceived benefits for undertaking a BREEAM Infrastructure assessment on this project / contract?

For TRU the drivers and perceived benefits can be divided into three broad categories:

Reputation and Recognition – demonstrates a clear commitment to the highest levels of sustainability performance and innovation which is above ‘business as usual’.

Strategic Thinking – the holistic nature of BREEAM Infrastructure supports integrated thinking across different environmental and social themes and across project stages such as design and construction.

Assurance – the process drives challenging and robust delivery assurance.

How did the use of BREEAM Infrastructure influence the outcomes of the project / contract? What was done differently because of the BREEAM Infrastructure process?

Using BREEAM Infrastructure inspired the project team to really consider responsible sourcing and the use of Small Medium Enterprises (SME). The Track and OLE team included a ‘BREEAM Infrastructure Procurement Check’ within their procurement process. This led to the team working with a SME for the OLE steel, Adey Steel, who used the responsible sourcing requirement as an external driver to get their Environmental Management System (EMS) externally accredited. Over £140,000 of steel OLE infrastructure was procured through Adey Steel and demonstrates how the sustainability of the wider rail supply chain has been improved. Adey Steel also provided the most competitive price for the materials. In addition to this, the ballast, and rails (steel) was procured through Network Rail from suppliers accredited with BES 6001.

What elements of this project / contract highlight best practice and innovation?

During the project, emerging technology such as electric mini diggers were utilised on the excavation of Platform 0, these are more carbon efficient and create less nuisance through emissions and noise. Contactors also explored opportunities to use new battery powered handheld equipment where possible, these included Stihl saws and Hytorc guns. In addition to this, the teams utilised drones and 360-degree cameras to capture videos and imagery of the site. This reduced the need for repeated in-person surveys.


“Leeds Station Capacity has been a great success on many fronts, with the sustainable approach and delivery of BREEAM Infrastructure ‘Excellent’ a key part of that.  All of our suppliers have bought into the benefits of managing all aspects of sustainability on the project through activities such as engagement with the community, providing apprenticeship opportunities, engaging with local SMEs where possible and ensuring materials are from the most sustainable sources.  Credit to Buckingham Group, Alstom and the Central Rail Systems Alliance and our BREEAM management support through Jacobs for making it happen.”

Andy Martin – Network Rail Leeds Station Capacity Programme Manager

“Leeds Station Capacity is the first TRU project to achieve the BREEAM Infrastructure Excellent rating which is a fantastic achievement by all involved and no mean feat. Leeds station has paved the way on what is achievable and has set the standard for the rest of the TRU programme to follow suit. Of the back of this there will be lots of lessons learnt from Leeds for the wider programme to understand how it has been achieved and really drive efficiencies in what is needed and how to continue to obtain Excellent ratings going forward. Well done to all involved!”

Anna Humphries – Network Rail TRU Head of Sustainability and Social Value

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