A challenging seven-month project to replace two ageing large diameter gas mains in central London was successfully completed by Cadent and its partners during the lockdown.
The project involved replacing over 1km of 36 inch and over 500m of 24 inch cast-iron gas mains which were laid over 90 years ago. They were nearing the end of their operational lives and suffering from a large number of leaks.
Work began in September 2019 and from the outset it was set to be a challenging job.
The 36 inch gas mains were located from the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Bayley Street to the junction of Guildford Street and Southampton Row. The 24-inch main meanwhile was located from the junction of Keppel Street and Gower Street outside the University of London.
There was the additional challenge of having to install a new gas supply pipe to the British Museum, while maintaining gas supplies to the museum as well as a number of other properties including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the local Crowne Plaza Hotel and St Giles Hotel.
Cadent Authorising Engineer, Robert Benn, led a team of KLT contractors comprising Mark Goodbody, Simon Schrapel, Jason Paine, Chris Smith and Phil Walden to deliver the work.
He commented said: “The biggest challenge was to access the old gas mains which were laid over 90 years ago as other utilities had put in infrastructure above them over the years.
"Our team had to excavate very carefully, using specialist vacuum excavators where possible and they did an excellent job of avoiding any damage.
“We also had to do what’s called a live transfer of the gas supply for the British Museum whereby we replaced the old service pipe, while also keeping gas supplies going to the museum throughout. Our team held regular meetings with the museum to draw up an hour by hour schedule for the operation and they worked through the night to get the job done.”
The project was beset by harsh weather with what seemed like persistent rain in February and March and further challenges arose when the country went into the coronavirus lockdown on Monday 23 March.
Nevertheless, the project team, who along with the other Cadent employees and contractors have followed the government’s guidance on social distancing throughout the lockdown, were able to get the project completed by 30 April.
Robert reflected: “Coronavirus and the lockdown was just one more thing we had to factor into successfully delivering the project.
“It’s a credit to the physical and psychological effort the team put in that all the challenges we faced were overcome and the project was delivered so well.
“The new pipes we’ve installed should serve the capital into the 22nd century helping to ensure residents, businesses and community facilities in the area keep on enjoying safe and reliable gas supplies for many years to come.”
How we’ve kept gas flowing, supported the UK Government Covid-19 emergency response, looked after our customers, looked after ourselves, and focussed on our future energy needs – this is #OurLockdownStory. Follow our social media channels and this page of our website www.cadentgas.com/ourlockdownstory for more in this special series showcasing the amazing achievements of Cadent’s #keyworkers