Access limitations can pose significant logistical challenges within surfacing projects, particularly in terms of the delivery of materials. These restrictions are particularly common within the rail sector, where platform surfacing works must be carefully programmed to overcome the lack of space on site for materials and plant. As with any project involving live infrastructure, the need to minimise disruption also makes these projects time-sensitive and creates higher risk for the contractor and client. An experienced surfacing contractor will be able to demonstrate the detailed planning and preparation that are needed to deliver the required result despite operational challenges.

Planning around access limitations

It is important to identify and address potential complications ahead of the working window in order to avoid unnecessary disruption. The surfacing contractor will need to ensure that the programme has accommodated any access limitations and can ensure that everything is in place for the surface to be laid effectively. Whilst the planning stage is the ideal opportunity to concentrate on these logistical challenges, it is also important to be aware of other restrictions on site. Depending on the size of the contractor’s work force and their experience within the relevant sector, they may need to obtain certain accreditations to be allowed to complete the works. This should be specified and discussed at tender stage.


Close communication is key, allowing contractor and client to keep on top of any updates and remain aware of potential issues as the programme progresses. This is particularly important if the scope of works for a project is likely to change and additional arrangements may need to be made. An experienced surfacing contractor will prioritise communication and adopt a collaborative approach to ensure that they have a full understanding of the project’s requirements. Being aware of the access limitations at all times will ensure that appropriate plans can be put in place, including contingencies where required.


The most common access limitations on surfacing projects affect the delivery of materials on site. Within the rail sector there will almost always be difficulties transporting materials to the platforms, and a suitable approach will need to be agreed with the client to ensure that these restrictions have been accounted for. As an additional complication, this approach will also need to minimise disruption to the rest of the station. Working with a contractor that has a proven track record within the sector will provide peace of mind for the client and will ensure an efficient approach is in place for project delivery. Ensuring that this contractor is well resourced is also crucial and will guarantee that an effective supply chain can be relied upon during all stages of the project.

Meeting the client’s requirements

The site-specific nature of access limitations mean that every project will need to be tailored to the client’s precise requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that can be deployed in all circumstances. Our previous projects in the rail sector demonstrate this approach in action:

Abbey Wood Station

Balfour Beatty contracted Toppesfield to surface the new platforms that were built as part of the redevelopment of Abbey Wood station. This project will halve journey times to many central London destinations and will substantially improve transport links in and around the city. Due to the access limitations on site, materials could only be delivered via the track itself. Our team used a specialist road-rail vehicle to overcome this challenge, transporting and unloading the material directly onto the platforms. An AC6 Dense surface course was laid on these new platforms to ensure the durability of the finished surfaces and the works were scheduled over four phases to ensure that there were no delays to the programme. The operatives assigned to this project were highly experienced within the rail sector and delivered a ‘right first time’ solution as a result.

Paddington Station

Toppesfield were contracted to resurface the platforms at Paddington Station as part of Crossrail redevelopment works. These platforms were widened and extended by the main contractor before being passed over to our operatives for the surfacing works. The project was completed during the Christmas shutdown over two shifts. As there was only a four-hour working window per shift, excellent project management and supply chain relationships were required to ensure successful delivery. The access limitations on site meant that materials had to be transported through the station itself, requiring flexible and timely deliveries to maintain progress. This was particularly crucial due to on-the-night changes to the scope of works that needed to be accommodated. Toppesfield were able to allocate twenty operatives per shift to support the safe delivery of materials to the platforms, taking full advantage of their large workforce. Moreover, all staff members required an Achilles accreditation to work on the project, a requirement that could be guaranteed at tender stage due to the exceptional training standards throughout the ToppTeam.

Waterloo Station

Walker Construction contracted Toppesfield to surface the recently extended platforms at Waterloo Station. The lack of direct-level access to these platforms posed a significant logistical challenge when delivering materials to site. To overcome this limitation, Toppesfield’s operatives wheelbarrowed materials to the platforms via lift shafts from delivery points on the street. A weight restriction on the platforms added an additional complication, limiting the size of the machinery that could be used. The team could adapt to this quickly by selecting smaller rollers from Toppesfield’s large fleet of plant, preventing delays for the client. To minimise disruption to the station’s operations, Toppesfield allocated multiple teams of operatives to deliver over a 24-hour working window and was able to complete the works quicker than had originally been intended. The training standards throughout the ToppTeam meant that all the operatives allocated to the project had already been Personal Track Safety trained.