Making the right choice – Station roof glazing

By | 14 June 2016

Efficient rail travel is a major key to our transport future and alongside faster journey times comes a requirement for improved stations. These need to be better in so many ways; bigger, multi-purpose, more customer friendly, safer, lighter and brighter. However, changing some of our older stations to create these new improved spaces is not easy. Whether it is creating space and light where it didn’t previously exist or trying to improve traditional stations in line with strict heritage guidelines, improvements need to be well considered matters.

We are currently seeing the biggest investment on our rail infrastructure since the Victorian era and it is clear that careful planning and consideration is needed to ensure the investment being put into building our future rail network and its assets is well thought out.

East Croydon Station

East Croydon station was originally opened in July 1841 and is now the busiest station in England outside central London, providing direct train services to London, the south coast and Bedfordshire.

An exciting and much needed £20M station redevelopment project commenced in 2010, involving construction of a new footbridge, a new station concourse area and lifts. The aim was to transform the facility into a world class railway station and transport interchange.

A key part of the refurbishment was making sure the platform canopies were improved as these spaces were very dated, dark and in much need of upgrading. Getting this part right would transform these customer waiting areas – an important element of the whole scheme as these six platforms see hundreds of passengers passing through each day.

Twinfix joined a dedicated team of professionals, from Network Rail Asset Managers to contractors and specialist architects who embarked on the task of ensuring the correct roof glazing was specified and installed on the platform canopies. After careful consideration the product that was chosen was the Twinfix modular Multi-Link non fragile panel glazed with 6mm opal solid polycarbonate. Just over 3,000 square metres of these rooflight panels were required to reglaze the six platforms at the station, supplied in some 1,800 panels delivered to site ready for quick installation.

The Multi-Link system was invented over 20 years ago and is a rather clever design of roof glazing. Each panel comprises a powder coated aluminium frame fitted with polycarbonate glazing. They are built completely off site, the work being carried out in the Twinfix quality controlled factory environment, reducing the risk – and cost – of site mistakes. They arrive on site fully glazed and ready for rapid installation. They have impressive spanning capabilities and a unique linking design feature that results in incredibly quick installation times, making the system very much suited to rail work with its restricted possession times.

The Multi-Link panel is an innovative roof glazing product that has been well utilised for many years on station canopy roofs, and it has been thoroughly tried and tested in that time.

So why was this product chosen for the East Croydon Station project? A Network Rail Senior Asset Manager on the South East Route led the team that investigated the available options and specified the Multi-Link panel for a number of reasons:

Appearance – The opal polycarbonate panels provide just the right level of diffused light transmission on to the platforms below.

Safety – The fact that this rooflight is non-fragile when tested to ACR(M)001:2014 was of great importance as its use helped Network Rail meet some of their CP5 safety goals.

Off-site construction – Speed of installation was high on the list as disruption at this busy station needed to be kept to a minimum and the Multi-Link panel’s innovative fix and link system enables really quick installation.

Sustainability – These panels are virtually unbreakable in manufacture, transit and in situ. Unlike glass there will be no costs involved in replacing broken panels.

Weight – Both the aluminium and the polycarbonate are light in weight compared with more traditional overhead glazing which makes them a great choice for a refurbishment project on an older station as their use can drastically reduce the load on the original building structure. And the panel’s light weight makes it easier, safer – and more cost effective – to handle in the factory, in getting it to site and installing it on a roof.

This project demanded a truly collaborative approach, and Twinfix worked closely with the Main Contractor and the installer to ensure that the panels were delivered just in time and that the installer teams were full trained. The result of this clever roof glazing system and an experienced roof glazing manufacturer is a good looking, safe, and long lasting roof over the platforms at East Croydon station.

Vicky Evans, Twinfix Managing Director, says “I visited the station prior to the works being carried out and the covered areas on the platforms were dark and really quite oppressive. They were in desperate need of light and I am very proud that my company helped to provide the right solution. I am pleased that passengers now have bright and cheerful platform areas where they will surely feel much happier and safer whilst waiting for their trains.”

Graham Richards, Senior Asset Manager Network Rail, comments: “We thought carefully before choosing the products and materials used on the canopy refurbishment scheme at East Croydon station. It was clear from the outset that this high profile hub station would require a specification befitting this location, we also wanted to ensure that the finished works would not be lost amongst the numerous improvement works recently carried out around the station areas. The Twinfix canopy glazing system was key to the overall design; safety, aesthetics, install speed are just some of the items we considered and we are extremely pleased with the results, they have surpassed our expectations.”

This whole project has produced a real transformation at East Croydon station, achieving what it set out to do, to create a world class railway station for commuters on the busy South East Route.

The future – what next

As the UK moves forward with its ambitious rail plans, Twinfix also moves forward with more station re-glazing.

Innovation is key to helping improve our rail infrastructure, and a product that is at the forefront of this innovative time is the Twinfix Georgian wired effect polycarbonate. This is a revolutionary product that was developed by the Twinfix in-house team of specialists and has really set the company apart. This grade of polycarbonate glazing looks exactly the same as traditional Georgian wired glass but it is virtually unbreakable – a truly ground breaking product developed and refined for buildings with heritage considerations. It has already been installed in the Twinfix Multi-Link panel at a number of stations, including the impressive Stirling station that is nearing completion. Interestingly, Stirling station also features a new slimmer 50mm Multi-Link bar that Twinfix developed using 3D printer technology to allow for slicker and more efficient product development.

The Twinfix team is proud to be part of this exhilarating journey that will see the UK rail network revolutionised – exciting times ahead!

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