Work on a number of Transport for London (TfL) construction projects has resumed with more restarting in the coming weeks, in line with the government’s announcement in early May easing lockdown measures for those who could not work from home.
Construction at around 300 TfL sites was brought to a safe stop in late March to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Since then design and other preparatory work on many of these projects has continued, with staff and many of TfL’s contractors working from home.
During the next few weeks, site preparation to accommodate social distancing and construction work will safely begin in a phased way on a number of projects vital to supporting jobs and homes, or providing essential transport infrastructure, across the capital.
These include major capacity improvements and extensions for Tube and rail, such as the Northern Line extension to Battersea, the Bank Station capacity upgrade and the extension of London Overground to the new housing development at Barking Riverside.
They also include the transformation of Old Street roundabout, cycleways, safety improvements to some key road junctions and new walking and cycling infrastructure to support social distancing by encouraging active travel.
TfL says it has worked closely with its contractors and supply chain to introduce changes to ensure all sites operate safely and fully comply with the latest guidance from the government and Public Health England.
Extensive physical changes to worksites and ways of working are being introduced by TfL and its contractors to ensure sites can reopen as safely and quickly as possible and help all workers stay safe and maintain social distancing. These include:
- Staggered shifts and breaks to spread journeys outside peak periods and prevent large groups;
- Clear signage for social distancing and one-way walking routes;
- Additional staff welfare areas;
- Additional hand-washing facilities and sanitising stations;
- Reconfigured canteens and access to personal hand sanitisers.
All sites will have a reduced number of people working at any one time, with some sites having an additional site supervisor to ensure social distancing is maintained. Workers will be further supported at some sites by welfare wardens who will control access to common areas and changing facilities, so they do not become crowded.
Deliveries to sites are also being adapted. Every effort is being made to keep deliveries to a minimum and any delivery drivers must now enter sites with windows wound up. Instead of signing for goods being delivered, photographs are being taken.
Heidi Alexander, deputy mayor for transport, said: "It’s really positive that work can now safely resume on key transport infrastructure projects, which will help to kickstart London’s economic recovery. It’s vital that construction workers make journeys to sites on foot or by bike if at all possible in order to keep services safe for those who really need it. If workers have to travel on public transport, I’m pleased that our plans for staggered shifts will help them avoid the busiest times."
Stuart Harvey, director of major projects, said: "Our number one priority is always the safety of staff on our sites as well as the surrounding communities. We have carefully developed our plans and adapted our worksites by working closely with our supply chain.
"It is a positive step that work can safely recommence on upgrades and key transport infrastructure projects that are so vital for the capital. We will continue to keep activity at all sites under review and ensure we continuously evaluate and improve our approach with safety at the forefront of all that we do."
All staff are being actively encouraged to walk or cycle to work if they can and avoid public transport where possible. TfL is also investigating options to allow the construction sector to privately hire river boats and provide transport for workers at construction sites accessible from the river.
As work resumes, TfL will assess what effect the new ways of working will have on delivery schedules for the individual projects, subject to longer-term funding being received. Opportunities to restart work on other projects continue to be reviewed across TfL’s capital delivery programme.