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College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
Assignment Brief
EC4IED Infrastructure Engineering and Interdisciplinary Design Project brief (Referred)
Dr Sam Adu-Amankwah . Preferred contact method is by email.
Assignment Brief/ Coursework Content:
The referred Infrastructure Engineering and Inter-disciplinary Design coursework is a transport infrastructure related report that requires candidates to individually consider possible general solutions to an infrastructural engineering problem and to recommend a preferred option. The problem is such that consideration must be given to the broader aspects of infrastructure design, for example sustainability, environmental impact, economics, and technical feasibility including suitable routes, preliminary structural and geotechnical issues, etc. It is not intended that a detailed design be undertaken at this stage. This project is intended to simulate the sort of problem that will be met in practice, when engineers and project managers must consider the general factors affecting the choice of a solution to a problem and when there is generally not a unique solution.
In practice, engineers, commercial and project managers must communicate with other consultants and with members of the public. This may be in public enquiries, legal proceedings, conferences, and meetings with clients. Therefore, it is necessary that experience is gained in producing written reports and in presentations, and both elements are developed in this report.
Major requirements of the task are defining the brief and deciding the areas that will influence the decision-making process. Some of these will be difficult to quantify, and often it will be necessary to compare very dissimilar factors. The problem definition, selection and comparison stages are essential parts of the feasibility process, and the report should describe the reasoning processes, with evidence where appropriate, for choices made.
The project
Birmingham Airport Ltd, operators of Birmingham Airport are investing £250 million to improve connectivity to the airport. The number of passengers using the airport is forecast to increase from 9.5 million in 2022 to 13 million per year by 2030.
There are concerns about access to the airport, as public transport is limited to buses and trains. However, existing roads serving the airport are congested while the rail network is already stretched and cannot cope with the increased passenger numbers.
To address this, the airport operators and the West Midlands Public Transport Executive are seeking to improve tram links to the airport. One of such routes is expected to connect the south-west of Birmingham to the airport. This will reduce
reliance on the existing roads and rail serving the inner-city Birmingham, and consequently improve air quality in the city.
As a consultant, your employer has been approached to produce a feasibility report for the above-described light rail (tram) scheme. This will connect Stourbridge Junction train station to the airport station. As a constraint, the client does not want the new scheme to cross existing roads at grade (i.e., no level crossings) for safety and operational reasons.
Your task is to:
1. Propose three possible outline routes.
2. Perform an appraisal of the three options to include technical feasibility (alignment, structural, and geotechnical), environmental and financial considerations.
3. Recommend a preferred route with justifications for your conclusions
4. Consideration of the effect of the new route on existing developments, conservations, and eco-systems
Basic data required for the preparation of the report are given below. Requirements for the Feasibility Report are also given below. A map of the area showing the locations of the relevant points (marked with red circle) at Stourbridge Junction and the airport rail terminal. Note, the provision of the map does not imply the solution is limited to the geographical area of the map. More detailed maps can be accessed via or via Google Earth.
Scope of the work
As mentioned above, a key element in considering many engineering problems is in defining the problem and the major factors that will influence the outcome. These will include the following:
• Defining three possible routes to connect the specified points
• Preliminary route alignment design of the three options using relevant topographic data. You may implement this with hand calculations or using a software such as Civil3D. Resources for these are available on the module page
• Preliminary geotechnical evaluation of options focusing on available borehole information for soil classification and design risk identification
• Preliminary structural consideration of options
• Environmental factors relating to the various options
• Preliminary financial appraisal/Cost-benefit analysis of the three options
While the above are important considerations, they are not exhaustive. The choice of route will affect the exact scope of each factor and in some cases factors other than these may have to be considered.
The case for each route and scheme selected must be carefully argued, and alternative possibilities explored. For the purposes of the exercise, you may request consultation meeting with the module leader. Under no circumstances are you to make enquiries with statutory bodies yourself.
To be submitted
a) The Report: The report should not be more than 3000 words long. The word limit excludes abstract or executive summary, contents page, drawings/figures, appendices, but does include tables. Any report that exceeds the word count will have the excess removed from the end and the remainder will be marked. This may have a dramatic effect on your mark so keep justifications concise. It should be remembered that appendices are used for material that is relevant to the text but not essential, i.e., the report can be read without referring to the appendices.
The report should consist of the following sections:
• An abstract or executive summary
• Table of Contents • Introduction
• Main Body of the Report including a map, showing the main schemes considered plus other relevant drawings as you deem necessary drawn to an appropriate scale
• A horizontal and vertical alignment drawings (produced at an appropriate scale) of each route option and your recommended route drawn clearly indicated.
• Recommendations together with justifications (taking into account preliminary alignment, geotechnical, structural, environmental impact and financial appraisal) and conclusions.
• References
The report should be written impersonally and typed at one and half spacing, on one side of the sheet. An electronic copy must be submitted, following Aston University’s major coursework procedures. Relevant maps and drawings should be incorporated in the report, numbered, and cross-referenced so that they can be understood. The report should be submitted electronically via Turnitin by 4pm on Thursday 10th August, 2023. Late submission will be penalized as described in the Assessment Handbook.
There are no formal support sessions for the referred coursework., However, you may contact the module leader for clarifications where necessary.
Additional relevant information
1. Price list for financial appraisal
The unit rates given below are approximate and assume average conditions. In practice, there are wide variations in costs, e.g., the price of land depends on plot size, shape, location, and use. The cost of drainage will be greatly affected by the trench depth, soil type, etc. For the purposes of the financial appraisal of this scheme, the following data should be used. Where a rate is not available, candidates are advised to consult the SPONS book for Civil Engineering and Highways and referenced appropriately.
Item Unit rate, £
Land: Agricultural 6,000/ha
Residential 150,000/ha Industrial 255,000/ha
Existing buildings Typical 3 bedroom 190,000 semi-detached house.
Site investigation 200,000/km
Cuttings 21/m3
Embankments Rockfill - imported 60/m3 General fill - from site 21/m3
Drainage Open ditch 75/m
Piped drain 135/m
Tunnels 300/m3
Highway bridge 3,000/m2
Road works Flexible construction 75/m2
Culvert 450/m
Standard railway bridge 6,000/m2 Standard railway viaduct 3,600/m2
Fencing 36/m
Junction with main route including signalling 225,000
Main services Gas 750,000/km
Water 750,000/km
Electricity 750,000/km
Signal ducting Surface 60/m
Footbridge over road 135,000
Level crossing 1500/m2
Retaining wall 2m high 1,500/m
3m high 2,400/m
5m high 5,100/m
Signalling and telecommunication equipment 1,200,000(lump sum)
Regio Citidas 3 vehicle unit 1,500,000
Additional references: Laxton’s Building Price Book;
SPONS book for Civil Engineering and Highways
2. Map showing relevant points on the route
Descriptive details of Assignment:
• Document Title e.g. Firstname_Lastname_EC4IED_Report
• Report to be submitted via the Blackboard
• 3000 Word Count
• Preferred reference style is Harvard referencing
Recommended reading/ online sources:
1. Feasibility studies. 2009. Civil engineering procedure, 6th edition, ICE,19-25
2. Walsh et al. 2011 ICE manual of highway design and management (Chapters 19, 43, 44)
3. Uren, J. and Price, W.F. 2010 Surveying for Engineers, 5th ed. Chapters 1215
Submission Details:
• Submission will be online through Blackboard
Submission Checklist
• Have you completed all aspects of the brief as outlined on page 3?
• Have you included relevant alignment drawings?
• Have you formatted the report correctly?
• Have you included relevant references?
Marking Rubric:
The report will be assessed based on the below criteria:
Item Maximum Mark
Presentation of the report 10
Preliminary alignment design, verification, and drawings 25
Preliminary geotechnical and structural considerations 20
Environmental impact assessment 20
Financial appraisal 10
Selection and justification of preferred option 15

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