DUFOUR quickly installs footbridge over Versailles train station


Improve quality of life. Address regional inequalities. Build a sustainable city of the future. Those are the lofty goals established by the State and Ile-de-France – a region of 12 million inhabitants – with the ambitious Grand Paris development project.

Modernizing the existing transportation network and constructing a new automatic metro – the Grand Paris Express, lie at the heart of this grand vision. Project work will take place not only in Paris but the outlying metropolitan areas as well, which includes the City of Versailles.

A city of 90,000, many of Versailles’ citizens work in Paris. Tens of thousands of people daily board the train from one of five stations to commute to and from Paris. The Versailles Chantiers train station alone serves nearly 70,000 passengers each day. To accommodate the growing number of passengers using this critical train station hub, the National Society of French Railways (SNCF) – France’s national state-owned railway company –added a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks for easier access to the station from the parking lot as part of The Grand Paris program.

Fast and Precise Superlift 3800 crawler crane
Erecting a footbridge at the Versailles Chantiers may sound simple, but there were several challenges associated with the project. “The station is located in the city center of Versailles, and the project site was very congested,” explains Nicolas Devianne, Chargé d’Affaires for DUFOUR Transport Handling, the lifting contractor. “The project was highly publicized and politicized, so there were a lot of curious people around the jobsite. Also, we lifted the bridge segments only a few weeks after the Paris terrorist attacks of January, so everything was supervised by the police.”

Additionally, the clock was ticking for DUFOUR on this project. Installing the metal footbridge over the tracks meant that the Versailles train station had to be temporarily closed. “For one weekend, the station was completely closed and, during lifting operations, train traffic was also fully stopped from Paris to the south of France, which rarely occurs,” says Devianne. During that weekend, 350 buses had to be arranged to accommodate commuters typically riding the trains originating from the Versailles Chantiers station.

So DUFOUR wisely selected the right lifting equipment that offered easy transport, fast set-up once on site and the ability to quickly and smoothly lift and place the two metal bridge components weighing respectively 80 and 111 tonnes (88 and 122 US t). For Devianne, the Terex® Superlift 3800 lattice boom crawler crane was the obvious choice. “It is a compact, solid crane that is easy to transport,” he says. “Its modular design allows it to be quickly set up, and it’s easy to use.”

In early February, DUFOUR’s crews loaded the Superlift 3800 crane components from a project site in Germany to make the approximately 400-km (250-mi) trip to the Versailles Chantiers station. Thirty-seven trucks were used to transport 275 tonnes (298 US t) of counterweight, 90 m (295 ft) of boom segments, the Superlift structure and carrier components.

“The Superlift 3800 offers fast and efficient mobilization in any market around the world with unique features such as nesting boom segments and no component being wider than 3 m (9.8 ft) for transport,” says Terex Cranes Field Service Technician, David Hemmert. “The Superlift 3800 crane advantages do not stop with transport. Its quick-connection system allows the superstructure to be installed or removed in less than 15 minutes, improving assembly speed, and the Terex award-winning fall protection system provides safety during boom assembly.”

With the aid of a 250-tonne (300-US-t) capacity class Terex® AC 250 all terrain crane, six DUFOUR crew members, including two crane operators, began assembling the crane and Superlift structure once the components arrived at the train station. Terex Cranes’ Hemmert also aided with crane erection and, three short days later, the Superlift 3800 was ready to assist with bridge construction.

“Since this was a time-sensitive project, we requested a Terex field service technician to help with assembly, and Terex immediately accepted,” recalls Devianne. “Mr. Hemmert assisted greatly with crane set up and the entire project.”

The superlift tray and crawler carrier were loaded with 225 tonnes (250 US tons) and 50 tonnes (55 US t) of counterweight respectively to handle bridge segment weight when working at radii in excess of 70m (230 ft). To lift the metal structures in place, the Superlift 3800 crane required 90 m (295 ft) of main boom.

Working in an extremely confined area, crews attached the first metal bridge segment weighing 80 tonnes (88 US t) to the crane’s cables. At a radius of 76m (249 ft), the Superlift 3800 crane hoisted the segment into place for installation. “Even at this extended radius, the Superlift 3800 crane offers a lift capacity of more than 85 tonnes (94 US t) in this configuration, which was more than sufficient for the pick,” mentions Hemmert.

The Superlift 3800 crane then hoisted the heavier, 111-tonne (122-US-t) metal segment into position, working at a 51-m (167-ft) radius. “Some of our company leaders were on the jobsite during the lifts, and they were all impressed with the crane and how smooth and precise it lifted the two metal footbridge segments,” says Devianne.

Within the short weekend timeframe allotted to DUFOUR for footbridge installation, crew members were able to complete both bridge picks, so the Versailles Chantiers train station could reopen on schedule. The station now is back to operating at normal capacity, and commuters have a safer and more direct route to get to the train station from the parking lot.

All are happy with the new footbridge at the train station and the speed at which it was erected. Everyone, that is, except for those who hold strongly to traditional Versailles history. “Versailles is famous for its castle where several French kings once lived, including Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI,” explains François de Mazières, Deputy and Mayor of the City of Versailles. “In City tradition, it is illegal for anything, any construction, any item to stand higher than the castle’s King room. However, this time there was no alternative solution, so it was an extremely exceptional event for the City of Versailles to build a bridge like this.”

For more information on the crane please follow the link: Superlift 3800

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