After successfully relocating six transformers in 2014 for Drax Power Ltd, Collett was once again approached to move a further nine 185-tonne units, this time from the decommissioned Littlebrook D Power Station. Planning for the move began in March 2015 and the ongoing operation got underway in January this year.
Collett had to devise a solution for transporting each of the transformers, measuring 5.08m high x 3.5m wide x 6.5m long, from Dartford to Drax Power Station near Selby, North Yorkshire. The task required several abnormal loads originating within the busy capital. It was proposed that each of the loads would be moved in three stages. First, each transformer would be taken from Littlebrook to Thamesport, Isle of Grain where they would be consolidated into two RoRo barge shipments delivered to the Port of Goole. From here the transformers would be stored at Collett’s Goole Heavy Lift Terminal prior to the final five-mile journey to Drax Power Station.
This required intricate planning throughout, but, the logistics of transporting these heavy cargoes from Littlebrook to Thamesport would provide the biggest challenge. Collett’s Consulting Division made route studies, site visits and swept path analysis reports of several roads and surroundings. Having liaised with local authorities, councils and the police, a route was in place and in March Collett mobilised their fleet and headed for Littlebrook Power station to begin the first move.
Not a simple task of lifting each transformer and loading it to an awaiting trailer, each unit required complex manoeuvring. Collett had to use its specialist heavy duty jacking & skidding system to manoeuvre each of the cargoes. Space limitations required each transformer to be skidded 6 metres, before turning 90º and skidding a further 18 metres to safely clear the power station’s industrial surroundings. Finally, after jacking & skidding from their original position, the transformers were turned a further 90º to position for loading.
Using Collett’s girder bridge for the initial stage of the project the first transformer was loaded to the trailer and at 21.00hrs the convoy began its 24-mile journey. Travelling with three tractor units, two in push-pull formation and one in support, four police escorts and two pilot cars, the convoy left Littlebrook Power Station. The combination, due to its overall loaded weight of 390 tonnes, 16 tonnes per axle, and its 71- x 5.13-metre loaded dimensions, would be unable to use the bridge over the M25 at Littlebrook Interchange. Instead, a rolling road block was put into place on both the northbound and southbound carriageways of the M25. This allowed the entire Girder Bridge to contraflow two roundabouts and use the northbound sliproad to gain access to the M25. Once on the motorway Collett’s Team reversed the entire combination for half a mile across the central reservation and along the southbound carriageway allowing access to Exit 1A and onward to Thamesport.
Once this intricate manoeuvre was complete the convoy continued, employing extensive traffic management throughout as it navigated four-lane motorways, dual and single carriageways. Having negotiated 18 roundabouts, undertaken several contraflow manoeuvres, implemented Temporary Traffic Restriction Orders and employed manual steering practices at select points along the route, approximately six hours after departing from Littlebrook Power Station the transformer arrived safely at Thamesport.
Over the following weeks the remaining transformers left Littlebrook and were safely consolidated at Thamesport and after discharge from the Girder Bridge each transformer was stored on stools and load spreading mats portside. Collett then chartered the Terra Marique RoRo barge, featuring a hydraulic roadway and ballast system allowing it to load on varying quay heights. The Collett Team set to loading each of the transformers to self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) and conventional axles and manoeuvred each one to the hull of the vessel. With the loads safely secured the barge set sail for Goole, firstly carrying three transformers with a second shipment of six to follow.
With the loads arriving safely in Goole, Collett began work unloading the transformers, once again using SPMT operations and conventional axles. Each transformer then made the short journey to the Collett’s Goole Heavy Lift Facility for storage on stools for ease of re-loading. After travelling the short distance to Drax Power Station where, once again, utilising specialist jacking & skidding systems, each transformer was manoeuvred into position for storage.