The UK rail network is currently seeing major improvement works and huge levels of investment.
The government has an ambitious investment plan which they hope will unlock the UK rail system’s full potential. The aim is to significantly improve Britain’s rail network, increasing capacity, relieving congestion, and providing a better service and experience for customers. With such planned growth, we focus on how time-lapse photography can effectively document rail construction.
Rishi Sunak declared in March 2020 “we’re also going to build better railways”. It is hoped that upgrading existing lines and developing new ones will help improve the efficiency of services, ‘level up’ opportunities across the country, stimulate local economies and offer passengers a better service.
Where is rail investment happening?
In the March 2020 budget, the Government committed to significant infrastructure spending and rail investment. Such pledges should help revolutionise rail networks in the regions and across the country. Rail journeys should be improved with more services, faster journeys, and reduced overcrowding. It is not just passengers that will benefit from these improvements. Rail freight is also important, playing a key role in the low carbon economy. Producing far fewer emissions than road transport, cargo rail is a key part of the rail industry.
Key areas of rail investment:
- Midlands Rail Hub: a programme of improvements to rail services between the region’s cities
- HS2: high-speed railway connecting London, Birmingham, the Midlands, Leeds, and Manchester
- The development of plans to increase the benefits of potential Northern Powerhouse Rail connections, including Bradford regeneration.
- Metro Flow programme to improve the capacity and reliability of the Tyne & Wear Metro.
- Investment to Preston City Region, including a new station at Cottam Parkway
- Investment in Sheffield City Region, including a new stop at Magna on the Rotherham tram-train line.
- Investment in accessibility of stations
How can time-lapse inform the public?
Rail projects cannot help but have an impact on the public, so it is vital that people are engaged with developments. A photographic reference is useful as rail works can cause disruption and interfere with the everyday lives of the public. Key developments in rail construction can easily be communicated through time-lapse. Visual footage shows that progress is being made and how the improvements are needed to update the rail network. The public can even monitor developments by embedded viewing portals on appropriate websites.
Rail companies such as VolkerRail regularly use time-lapse to capture their work improving light and heavy railways. This allows the public to be engaged and publicises projects, such as the replacement of tracks on the Sheffield Supertram network.
VolkerRail had to replace track sections that have suffered wear and tear on the street running rails of the Sheffield Supertram. This meant over a period of time, different sections of the network closed for work. The time-lapse edit promotes how it will make the network effective for another 20 years.
VolkerRail was also involved in bringing Kenilworth Station back into service after 53 years. VolkerRail had to realign 810m of track between Kenilworth and Leamington Spa. The project took 35 weeks to complete and therefore caused disruption. Documenting the work via time-lapse allowed them to showcase the level of work involved in the project and to publicise the reopening of the station.
Cleshar Contract Services used time-lapse to inform the public of developments at Chingford station. Rail service was not disrupted, but there were noticeable changes underway with new Train Crew Accommodation and a car park being constructed. By capturing the project through time-lapse, these developments were visually displayed.
Time-lapse videos can be used to document an event or project for a news report or for promotional material. Through a short video, the industry, the public, and rail enthusiasts can be updated on specific projects undertaken. For example, when the heritage railway The North Yorkshire Moors Railway replaced Goathland Bridge, we captured the whole project and created a video to showcase the project. This was also the case when a loco was rebranded to herald a new partnership between DB Cargo UK and Maritime Transport.
How else can time-lapse be useful in rail construction?
Using time-lapse photography allows rail companies, railway authorities and the government to showcase their work publicly and can also be used as an asset to secure new contracts.
Footage from a time-lapse camera on location can be used in several ways with regards project developments. It captures what is happening for the public and for future use, but it also helps those involved in rail projects fulfill their roles. With working from home becoming the norm and on-site visits limited, the site monitoring capability of time-lapse photography has become increasingly vital.
Civil engineers, contractors, and railway companies can all log in to the viewing portal and see the progress of work instantly. They can work remotely yet be across all developments. Time-lapse is an invaluable visual aid to help manage workflow, as it monitors and documents projects. Images can even be superimposed to instantly show how a rail project has developed.
Even Crossrail, also known as the Elizabeth Line and one of the largest construction projects in Europe, has been using time-lapse photography and its site monitoring capabilities throughout. The rail line will be 73 miles long and will run underneath central London. Such a large, complex project with sections deep underground benefits hugely from capturing progress via our camera systems.
So whether used by engineers to help manage rail projects remotely or by specialist railway infrastructure services companies to showcase rail improvements to the public, time-lapse photography has the flexibility to deliver the high-quality results required.
As the UK’s leading time-lapse video company, we have the expertise and know-how to produce rail construction time-lapse videos to high specification requirements. Please contact us for more details and to discuss your next project.