CHRISTCHURCH, NZ, 13 October 2020 – Infrastructure projects are technically and operationally complex – from design through to construction, and completion – requiring an ongoing understanding of ground and groundwater conditions to inform engineering decisions across the entire project lifecycle.

Global geoscience software company Seequent has become the industry standard for Ground Information Models (GIM), being widely adopted by the world’s leading civil engineering companies working on some of the world’s most significant transportation and infrastructure projects.

Seequent CEO, Shaun Maloney, says: “We’re working with the civil engineering industry to deliver a digital twin of the subsurface, that when combined with the infrastructure designs, creates a true virtual representation of what can be expected on site.

“Our technology is helping progress some of the most emblematic infrastructure projects in the world including the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project in the UK, which has already achieved several key milestones, and London’s Crossrail 2 railway.”

Mott MacDonald’s team of over 80 engineering geologists and geotechnical engineers are using Seequent’s solutions to investigate, analyse, model, and share their geological understanding of expected ground conditions with the wider HS2 project team.

Christopher Brook, Associate, Mott MacDonald, says: “Seequent’s digital innovations allow us to produce higher quality Building Information Modelling (BIM) deliverables, communicate to stakeholders and deliver controlled and robust ground models in 4D. It also helps the onsite ground investigation team to make informed decisions for the project resulting in time and cost savings and risk reduction. This has benefited the Balfour Beatty VINCI joint venture on HS2 Phase 1 and will continue to provide value through the detailed design phase and into construction.”

Multidisciplinary professional services firm Arup was contracted by Transport for London (TfL) to develop a 3D ground model to identify geological hazards along the route, inform early design decisions and provide the project with an invaluable geotechnical risk management tool.

Seequent’s dynamic 3D ground modelling solution, Leapfrog Works, helped Arup to effectively create a digital model of the geology for London’s proposed Crossrail 2 railway to aid the ongoing understanding and communication of ground and groundwater conditions that would impact on engineering decisions.

Arup engineering geologist Charlene Ting, says: “Seequent’s Leapfrog 3D modelling software has transformed the way we present and understand ground risk.” TfL Lead Geotechnical Engineer for Crossrail 2, Mike Black, added, “The quality and level of detail throughout the project speaks for itself. It really has been a step-change to what I have seen previously.”

Maloney says Seequent believes supporting the development of large infrastructure projects is key to keeping people employed, stimulating regeneration, and maintaining the productive capacity of the economy, ultimately enabling recovery in the quickest time possible. “We’re committed to the fast development of our cloud technology platform and engaging a broad community of industry leaders, partners, and other key stakeholders to achieve this.”

High Speed 2 (HS2) rail infrastructure project, UK

High Speed 2 (HS2) is a state-of-the-art, high-speed rail line critical for the UK’s low-carbon transport future scheduled to open in phases between 2029 and 2035.

Phase 1 of the main civil engineering works packages for the design of the West Midlands area (lots N1 and N2) is currently being progressed through a contract delivered by BBV (a joint venture between Balfour Beatty, Vinci, Mott MacDonald and Systra). The design work spanning approximately 90km with over 350 assets (including tunnels, viaducts, overbridges, and underpasses) has recently reached another milestone – a switch from the design phase to construction.

Currently, with over 5500 ground investigation locations in the database and with a further 2000 proposed, the ground investigation for N1 and N2 is providing ‘just in time’ GI information to this project. Across N1 and N2 there are significant technical ground and engineering design challenges, which are complicated by the large multifaceted teams working across many offices, companies, time zones and a variety of stakeholders.

Within Mott MacDonald’s team of over 80 engineering geologists and geotechnical engineers, they are using Seequent’s solutions to investigate, analyse, model, and share their geological understanding of expected ground conditions with the wider project team. Leapfrog Works is being used to create data and geological models and due to the scale and complexity of the long route, many individual Leapfrog models are required. The Seequent Central platform is therefore being used to manage models and also to effectively communicate changes in ground investigation data and other outputs with key stakeholders in near “real-time” allowing risks and opportunities to be understood and value engineering to be undertaken.

Christopher Brook, Associate, Mott MacDonald, says: “Seequent’s digital innovations allow us to produce higher quality Building Information Modelling (BIM) deliverables, communicate to stakeholders and deliver controlled and robust ground models in 4D. It also helps the onsite ground investigation team to make informed decisions for the project resulting in time and cost savings and risk reduction. This has benefited the Balfour Beatty VINCI joint venture on HS2 Phase 1 and will continue to provide value through the detailed design phase and into construction.

“As HS2 transitions from development into the country’s largest-ever construction programme, it’s essential to learn, not just from our own experiences, but also from other major projects.”

Crossrail 2 railway project – UK

Multidisciplinary professional services firm Arup was appointed by Transport for London (TfL) to develop a 3D ground model to identify geological hazards along the route, inform early design decisions and provide the project with an invaluable geotechnical risk management tool.

Seequent’s dynamic 3D ground modelling solution, Leapfrog Works, helped Arup to effectively create a digital model of the geology for London’s proposed Crossrail 2 railway to aid the ongoing understanding and communication of ground and groundwater conditions that would impact on engineering decisions.

Proposed tunnel structures, boreholes and strata surfaces informing the alignment design. Ting & Gilson (2020), Developing the 3D Project Stratigraphic Model for Crossrail 2.

The proposed railway will link the national rail networks in Surrey and Hertfordshire via approximately 30 km of an underground tunnel. Avoiding or mitigating the risks that any potential hazards pose is critical to allow for robust and realistic estimates of the project programme and cost.

Stuart Millis, Arup’s Associate Director in Infrastructure Hong Kong comments, “Leapfrog Works enabled us to visualise the geological base model and other formats of geological data in 3D, undertake refinements to the model and effectively communicate uncertainty and spatial variation in geology. We were able to feed the geological surfaces into our data-driven approach to design decisions, which supports our drive towards digital automation of engineering design. Being able to have this data-driven workflow in place so early on the project has been valuable and was appreciated by us and Transport for London.”

The new railway will improve access to and from London across the wider south-east region of the UK and significantly reduce congestion on existing Tube and National Rail services. Crossrail 2 will support 200,000 jobs, spur the development of 200,000 new homes across the region and increase London’s rail capacity by 10%, complementing other major national transport projects, such as High Speed 2.
Crossrail 2 is at the very early stages of planning. TfL intends to seek permission from the UK Government to build Crossrail 2 to start construction later in the 2020s, with the new line opening to the public in the 2030s.

Work on developing the Project Stratigraphic Model for Crossrail 2 was initiated in early 2018. An extract from The British Geological Survey’s (BGS) 1:50,000 scale 3D model of the London Basin was adopted as the baseline Stratigraphic Model. Leapfrog Works was used to integrate additional information available in the form of additional boreholes, higher-resolution digital terrain models, historical and recent publications on the construction of the London Underground and other major infrastructure projects, such as Thames Water Ring Main, Crossrail, Thames Tideway and others.

Ting, C., Gilson, B., Black, M. 2020. Developing the 3D geological model for Crossrail 2, London, United Kingdom

View more information on how Seequent’s Leapfrog Works and other solutions helped understand and communicate ground conditions for the HS2 project and the proposed Crossrail 2 railway.