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Standing Meeting


Kris Duffy


Kris started in the Rail industry in 2001 as a track worker in a P-way gang in Glasgow (UK), an opportunity arose to further his career by moving to the south of England to work on the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1). 

 Upon completing this project, Kris was offered a role as a track Supervisor leading a gang of track workers carrying out major plain line and S&C track renewals on several West Coast Mainline major upgrade projects in the south Manchester/Cheshire area.

“This was a new and exciting challenge, the previous work I had done on HS1 was greenfield rail construction. The work was predominantly carried out during daylight hours, and any overrun of work did not impact passenger rail services. Working in an urban electrified brownfield site is very different. The works are predominantly conducted on nightshift and must be performed in the time between the last passenger service of one day and the first passenger service of the next day.”

 During these projects, Kris performed several roles, “The original plan was to have four, track construction crews, but at some point, during the project planning, it was decided only three crews would be needed, the Superintendent asked the Supervisors if any of us would like an opportunity to work with the Survey Department, planning and managing the rail safety component of the survey work”. Kris was seconded as a Risk minimalisation (RIMINI) planner for the Survey Department to risk assess, plan, book track time and supervise the survey teams. During this time working with the survey/engineering team, Kris learned to perform the duties of the engineers and surveyors, initially learning the basics of railway engineering and surveying like platform gauging, using Mephisto trolleys and installing Duratherm before moving on to more complex duties such as setting up lasers for track renewal dig depths, sleeper set out, setting out stock rails, switch tips and crossing noses for crossover and turnout renewals as well as carrying out design validation Surveys pre/post tamp surveys and installing control networks. “I had never imagined myself working as an Engineer or a Surveyor. I was lucky to have good Senior Engineers/ Surveyors that had the patience to explain things and check my work in the early days. I enjoyed the camaraderie I had with the guys in the track gangs, but I didn’t miss the work!”

Upon successful completion of the Manchester works, Kris took up a post with a construction survey company carrying out topographic surveys and construction set out in the construction industry as well as working weekends on track renewals when required.  "This job gave me a sound understanding of civil and construction survey and allowed me to gain a thorough comprehension of surveying techniques used out with the rail industry.”

 Following on from this role, Kris moved back into the rail industry, working as a Rail Surveyor for a company delivering a rail project in the Trent Valley area of England. “On this project, I was responsible for ensuring the levels, thicknesses and widths of track formation, capping layer, and bottom ballast met the design tolerances. A subcontractor was engaged to perform these works, so it was important to verify results to ensure that the earthworks were ready for the track structure to be installed. "Once the earthworks were agreed and signed off, The process of setting out sleepers, rail, insulated rail joint locations, switch tips, crossing noses and overhead line stanchion bases and bolt locations commenced. I was also responsible for positioning signal gantries to meet design clearance requirements”.

Upon completing this project, Kris was offered a position as Senior Engineer/ Survey manager for the Manchester City Centre Tram line renewal project. Kris’s responsibilities were to manage a team of eight Engineers and Surveyors, interpret and analyse electronic data with hard copy design data, develop, implement and monitor construction methods on multiple work fronts, liaise with Senior Managers and clients, plan and deliver shutdowns for road crossings, design track geometry at the tie in areas to ensure smooth alignment transition from design to existing track, plan, schedule, and manage contractors, monitor costs and assist with the bill of quantities. “This project was completed on time and below budget, not something you hear too often in a large project! I learned a lot from this role and the people I worked alongside. We had such a strong team spirit. It started at the top with the Project Manager and flowed to the track workers on the ground.”


In March of 2010, with the Manchester project completed, Kris decided to take up a new challenge in Australia. “I was offered a job with a survey company almost immediately on arrival to work as an engineering surveyor for major projects construction jobs. During this period, I worked on several high profile construction projects around Perth and in the North West before returning to the rail industry in 2016.”

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