Critical Path Analysis at Network Rail
A Network Rail case study

Page 1: Introduction

Planning a major project is an exciting and challenging activity. This case study focuses on the planning that went into repairing Network Rail's Leven Viaduct situated in Cumbria. Any major engineering project requires planning for:

  • the activities that need to be completed
  • the sequencing of these activities
  • the timing of the start and completion of these activities
  • budgeting of costs involved.

Built in 1857, the Leven Viaduct on the Cumbrian coast has been a vital rail link between the North and South. At almost 500 metres long the viaduct was a major engineering project when first built. Even today its reconstruction presented Network Rail with a huge challenge. Through careful planning the project was completed in 16 weeks half the time originally anticipated.

Decision making

The project was required because heavy seas, corrosive salt water and heavy use meant that the viaduct was wearing out and would become unsafe. There were two main options:

1. repair the viaduct

2. close down the line and re-route all traffic on to an alternative line.

At the heart of the decision-making was the need to look at the costs of the two alternatives.

  • Option 1 was costly estimated at £20 million, plus the ongoing cost of maintaining the line.
  • Option 2 would however overload the West Coast main line. This would lead to delays on a very important route from Glasgow to London.

It therefore made sense to repair the viaduct.

Network Rail | Critical Path Analysis at Network Rail

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