The Rail Engineer - Issue 114 - April 2014

Page 1

the rail

engineer by rail engineers for rail engineers

APRIL 2014 - ISSUE 114


The last piece of the jigsaw


Back to Victoria

Our second visit to London Underground Victoria station

Costain - moving into REAL Rail

Growing Costain’s rail engineering business

Sleek Lines

Signal Gantry XTD 3736 On the 11-track viaduct approach

to the east of London Bridge

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the rail engineer • April 2014



A brief history of time

News 6

Signal gantry XTD 3736 was successfully installed on time on the night of Saturday 1 March

Sustainability charter signed, Botley back in business.

The last piece in the jigsaw


This £895 million project, started in 2008, is approaching completion.

18 Sleek lines

Costain - moving into REAL rail


Collin Carr speaks with Gren Edwards, Costain’s director of rail.

Back to Victoria


Chris Parker returns to London Underground Victoria station.

Acoustic sensing


The future for rail monitoring?

St. Pancras - Sheffield Line Speed Improvement


The £70 million scheme is intended to cut eight minutes in either direction.

Sand and ballast don’t mix


Ballast-less track systems are being used around the world.


Mind the gap


Stuart Marsh investigates the new release of ClearRoute 2 software.

The Standedge experience

Safety, Sustainability and Collaboration


Network Rail’s one day conference for its second-tier suppliers.

The working conditions were heroic to say the least!

Higher capacity, heavier lifts


Specialised equipment for track maintenance engineers.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?



Barry Dilks of UKPNS tackles sustainability.

Putney station on track


More than 11 million people used the station in 2012-13.

Innovation conference gets bigger and better


David Shirres reports from RIA’s sixth Technology and Innovation conference.

Trees - beneficial overall


Positive and negative impacts of line side vegetation are considered.


See more at

We’re looking to highlight the latest projects and innovations in



in the June issue of the rail engineer.

Got a fantastic innovation? Working on a great project? Call Nigel on 01530 816 445 NOW!



18-19 June 2014 Long Marston Warwickshire

The Largest Outdoor Rail Event in the UK Network Rail, in association with The Rail Alliance, the rail engineer and Macrail, is proud to present Rail Live 2014: a showcase for railway infrastructure. 2014, which marks the start of Control Period 5 (CP5), will see the whole rail industry continue to embark on one of the longest sustained periods of investment the railway has seen since Victorian tim es. Network Rail will be continuing its focus on safety and delivering value for money through working more closely with suppliers.

In partnership with

the rail engineer • April 2014 Editor Grahame Taylor

Production Editor Nigel Wordsworth

Production and design Adam O’Connor

Engineering writers

Smart locos to smart cables. It’s just smart engineering all round A clamber over a brand new locomotive with its paint barely dry and that’s not even allowed to travel on the national network under its own diesel. That was the prospect facing Stuart Marsh. Could he resist? Of course not! After sitting at the controls with the engine running he enthuses about the Vossloh class 68 locomotives that are being delivered to DRS. It may not be the end of the story as there’s the prospect of class 88 electric locos with diesel capability.

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Part of

Back on a normal train, Stuart then went off to talk to Balfour Beatty about their ClearRoute™ route assessment and clearance calculation software tool. Life has moved on a great deal since rods were poked out of a gauging wagon. It’s all lasers and cocktails of clever algorithms. Ever so often there’s an innovation that really is a game changer….the wheel, the internet, GPS, chain saws and the like. But this month, Clive Kessell introduces us to some very clever fibre optic cables that can sense, locate and interpret vibrations. In the railway world, are we really looking at the demise of track circuits and axle counters? Innovation was exactly what David Shirres heard about at the Railway Industry Association’s sixth annual Technology and Innovation Conference. With a wide spread of technologies including the scary statistic that smartphones are used for an average of 128 minutes a day - the railway industry needs to ‘innovate or die’ as Charles Darwin didn’t say. Collin Carr went to see Gren Edwards, Costain’s director of rail. Remember him from Grant Rail? Now, Costain might be best known for the large infrastructure projects of this world but they are well and truly into railway projects as well. Their portfolio is growing, including being part of the snappily named consortium ABC (Alstom / Babcock / Costain) - simple! Collin Carr is a regular commentator on the Reading station project, but now takes us to the western end where there

are signs of a major structure emerging. This is the viaduct that will grade separate the main line from freight traffic. Hitherto, these trains, which can be 760 metres long, have ground their way across the entire layout so bringing everything to a standstill. Chris Parker is dead right about the almost forgotten main line to the East Midlands. Speed restraints brought about by unsympathetic alignments made for slower speeds than you would expect for a major route. But that has been largely sorted after a major programme of line speed improvements with engineering designed to match rolling stock capabilities. Anyone trying to access the underground at Victoria station will readily appreciate the cramped site. With the looming prospect of the station being shut because of overcrowding more often than it would be open there’s a real imperative to engineer a solution. It’s an overcrowded site for contractors too. Chris Parker tells us of piling rigs being lowered into excavations and of oval shaped tunnels to fit between the obstacles. We’ve a couple of articles centring on ecology and sustainability. Paul Roebuck, an ecologist with The Ecology Consultancy, gives advice and wisdom on the tricky issue of trees. Tricky because, from my experience, public complaints rarely deal with engineering. They’re all about car parking….. and trees. Barry Dilks is project director at UK Power Networks Services


Grahame Taylor

and tackles sustainability. His background? Well, he’s constructed a 120-room dormouse hotel. Nobody booked in. But he has been perplexed by sustainability and gives us his own insight. An interesting statistic: 48% of all Network Rail’s Infrastructure Project’s spend ends up with tier two suppliers. With that in mind, it’s hardly surprising that there was a deal of interest in the tier two suppliers’ conference organised by Network Rail and reported on by Nigel Wordsworth. Eight weeks to design, manufacture and install a signal gantry serving ten tracks along with all the associated substructures. That’s a pretty ambitious target especially given that access was not straightforward or even available until the last minute, ground conditions weren’t known and just a four hour window of opportunity to erect it. It seems to be par for the course for schemes in London, but as Mungo Stacy writes, it’s all to do with Einstein. If you can’t reach a tunnel shaft, how can you repair it? Dig another tunnel. It’s not an option for most locations but it was a solution for Amco, who called on their mining expertise to cut their way between the tunnels at Standedge. As Graeme Bickerdike tells - after he and his camera had dried out - the working conditions were heroic to say the least. As we go to press we’ve just filed a report from the Rail Engineer’s very own Marc Johnson who was able to have a few minutes talking to David Higgins, HS2 Ltd’s new chairman. He was at the launch of HS2 PLUS where the prospect of starting the route to Crewe earlier than originally planned was aired as was the case against upgrading the West Coast route. Twenty years of disruption, that would be a generation’s entire experience of rail travel.



the rail engineer • April 2014

Sustainability charter signed

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly hot topic and, as a reflection of this, 43 executives from Network Rail’s largest suppliers have now signed a Sustainability Charter. All are members of the Commercial Directors Forum (CDF), which has been established to promote, support and influence policy in the rail industry by encouraging collaborative working throughout the supply chain.

In the new Sustainability Charter, members of the CDF agreed to actively support, promote and aspire to advance a range of standards on sustainability. These cover topics such as health, safety

and wellbeing; sustainable employment; ethics and labour standards; communities; energy and carbon; network resilience and adaptation to climate change; and water, waste and pollution. With sustainability now accounting for 5% or the total score when a tender is being assessed, and there being talk that this figure will increase over

time, the topic was very much in the forefront of everyone’s minds. Under the leadership of Andrew English of Skanska, ably supported by Network Rail’s Tertius Beneke, the Sustainability Working Group of the CDF has spent the last year engaging member companies which culminated in the unanimous adoption of this new charter.

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The damage to the line at Botley in Hampshire featured in last month’s issue of The Rail Engineer when the embankments turned into “pudding mix” following heavy rains. After hard work by Network Rail, Osborne and their subcontractors, the line reopened on 15 March. There were three landslips in total, the largest saw an 80 metres long and 15 metres high length of embankment fail. When it was originally constructed in the 1840s, the engineers built the earthworks out of whatever material they could find locally, which was a mixture of clay, sand and silt. The old earthwork was completely dug out and replaced with new material, supported by a 100 metre wall of sheet piles which were sunk into the ground along both sides and tied together with steel rods. Over two kilometres of new road has had to be built to access the sites and more than 1,000 lorry movements transported

the 20,000 tons of new material needed to rebuild the line. A team of 100 engineers worked around the clock to get trains running again on the line which links Fareham with Eastleigh.


the rail engineer • April 2014


Hitachi moves to the UK Hitachi has revealed that it is to move the headquarters of its rail business from Japan to the UK. Hitachi Rail Europe boss Alistair Dormer will become the company’s new global chief executive as the train builder looks to expand its business in Europe. Announcing the news, Hitachi said it plans to grow its workforce from 2,500 to 4,000 people in the next two-and-a-half years and boost its global turnover from €2 billion to €3 billion. The Japanese rolling stock manufacturer is currently building a new facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, to assemble a fleet of new trains for the East Coast and Great Western main lines as part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP).

Alistair Dormer said: “This announcement is a significant sign of intent by Hitachi to grow its business in the rail market and I am excited by the level of trust placed

in me to lead our growing business in this next phase of expansion. Both the UK and Japan remain important as markets for Hitachi Rail, and with our train factory in

the North East of England now under construction, we will work to realise our export potential from the UK, expanding into Europe and emergent markets.”


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the rail engineer • April 2014

It never rains but it pours

Just as the teams from Network Rail and BAM Nuttall were getting to grips with the damage to the main line to Cornwall at Dawlish, there was more drama a mile to the west. Engineers became aware on 4 March that about 20,000 tonnes of a cliff face near Teignmouth, had sheared away and slumped about 20 metres onto the toe of the railway, which sits at the bottom of the cliff at this point.

With the help of Devon & Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, engineers began spraying thousands of litres of water every minute onto the slip to wash away the earth and to encourage the slip to complete its fall to the

railway below. Then, following consultations with Cornwall’s china clay business, a high-pressure water cannon was brought onto site. This proved very effective at turning the red earth of the slip into slurry that ran off into the sea. Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail’s Western Route Director, explained: “With our work at Dawlish nearing completion ahead of schedule, the

Teignmouth site has become the orange army’s new frontline We have made good progress but the coming week will be critical if we are to meet our planned reopening date of 4 April. Everyone is working flat-out and we are determined to clear this new obstacle to enable us to reopen this vital route for the people of Devon and Cornwall.”


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The process to introduce 250 new trains onto London’s deep tube has started. First reported in issue 76 of The Rail Engineer (February 2011), London Underground has now issued a notice with the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) seeking expressions of interest to build the new trains. A formal invitation to tender is expected to be issued in early 2015 Dubbed ‘New Tube for London’, the new trains will include air-cooling for the first time on deep-level sections of the Tube, a challenge thought to be almost impossible to overcome until now. Savings in energy due to regenerative braking systems, lighter weight and more advanced driving operations will reduce the heat input into the tube system, allowing for the air conditioning exhaust to be accommodated. The new trains will be delivered by the turn of the decade and will operate on the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines. They will have faster accelerations and better braking and, when

used with new modern signalling systems, they will allow for a capacity increase varying between an extra 25% on the Central and Bakerloo lines up to as much as 60% on the Piccadilly.


the rail engineer • April 2014


DRS liveried Class 90

Freight operator Direct Rail Services has acquired electric locomotive 90034 on lease from DB Schenker for exclusive use on Virgin Trains ‘Pretendolino’ passenger services operating out of Euston on Mk 3 coaching stock. Virgin Trains will continue to provide the drivers, guards and train staff for these services.

The locomotive has been re-branded into the latest DRS livery at Toton depot and the vinyl decals have been applied by AST Signs Ltd of Penrith, Cumbria.

Amaro Signalling are proud to have successfully completed the installation, testing and commissioning of the signalling system for the New Ipswich Chord. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved for their commitment and dedication.

Virgin branding is to be applied to the locomotive nose ends, Pendolino style. The Class 90 locomotive will be serviced and maintained by DRS fitters at their Crewe Gresty Bridge depot. Class 90 locos have been used on these services previously, being hired from DB Schenker on 30-day diagrams. WB64 works a planned diagram of 1G40 19:03 Euston Birmingham and 1B94 20:50 Birmingham - Euston every Thursday and Friday. At other times, the Class 90 locomotive will be available for Virgin Trains standby duties and for working charter trains. The new deal runs for an initial two year period, with a review after 12 months.



the rail engineer • April 2014

Industry leaders to speak at Infrarail With just a few weeks to go before Infrarail 2014 opens its doors at Earls Court in London from 20 to 22 May, details are largely finalised for the wide-ranging programme of keynote speeches and industry seminars which will be open to all visitors.

Highlights will include keynote speeches by Minister of State for Transport Baroness Kramer, Network Rail’s managing director infrastructure projects Simon Kirby, in his final days before moving to his new assignment with the HS2 project, and the director general of the rail group at the Department for Transport, Clare Moriarty. A programme of industry seminars is being hosted by The Rail Engineer and, in a significant development this year, will feature presentations by managers from leading organisations specifying or implementing major UK rail infrastructure schemes. Senior figures from Amey, Balfour Beatty Rail, Siemens Rail Automation and Signalling Solutions will all be taking part, while other speakers will cover innovations in technology by firms exhibiting at the show. The venue for these seminars - the Knowledge Hub in the main

exhibition hall - will also be the location for a series of project updates by managers from Network Rail, Transport for London and HS2 Ltd. These are intended to provide valuable insights into the latest status of some of the country’s biggest rail infrastructure programmes. In addition, the Knowledge Hub will be the setting for a series of stimulating daily interactive discussion forums known as The Platform. All elements of the programme are open to everyone attending the show, free of charge. Full details can be found on the Infrarail website. Online registration for a free visit to Infrarail is now open. A link on takes you quickly through the simple registration process. Pre-registering to visit the exhibition speeds up entry and avoids a £20 charge payable for non-registered visitors.

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the rail engineer • April 2014

The last piece in the jigsaw R

egular readers will be familiar with the many different individual engineering projects forming the integrated plan to totally transform the station and surrounding railway infrastructure in the Reading area. This £895 million project, which started in 2008, is now approaching completion. There are various bits and pieces of work still underway in the station itself, but the one significant project that will complete the aims and objectives of the scheme is the construction of a 2km railway flyover at the west end of the station. However, let’s start by reviewing the current situation at Reading and the anticipated benefits that will be realised from the successful completion of the overall scheme. At present, more than 50,000 people use Reading Station every day and every day more than 700 trains pass through it. Passenger numbers are increasing and it is estimated that they could be double by 2030. In addition, freight business has increased by 60% with rail freight traffic from Southampton and other ports passing through Reading and having to cross the main lines in the process. These trains can be up to 750 metres in length. As a consequence, Reading is becoming one of the busiest and most important locations in the country. It is also a train operator’s nightmare.

Improved travel experience The Reading project can now boast a nearlycompleted station that is not only designed to accommodate the anticipated increase in passengers but now also provides easy access into the station from both north and south sides of the town, thus achieving an ambition that the local community has aspired to for some time. Also, at the London end of the station, a formerly-redundant tunnel has been totally refurbished and new tracks installed - thus enabling trains to pass from the north to the south side of the station, without crossing any lines, to link up with the route to Gatwick and beyond. This is dramatically improving the travel experience for passengers travelling from the west to the southeast.

In addition, a new train depot has been built on the northwest side of the station. The depot complex is more than 2km in length and includes all the latest facilities. It was built because the existing train depot needed to be demolished to make way for the aforementioned viaduct but, before focussing on that, mention must be made of the major bridge reconstruction just west of the station as well as two new railway bridges, built to dramatically improve road facilities in the area. So, back to the new viaduct. This will be completed in the summer although the infrastructure will be commissioned in December 2014 with trains using the main viaduct from January 2015. It will carry high speed trains (HSTs), that run on the Great Western main line (GWML), over the freight lines and straight into the station. It will also carry Cross Country trains over the freight lines independently of the HSTs, so the different train operators will be able to manoeuvre in and out of the Reading area freely and without impeding each other. This is an operating achievement that has not been addressed since Brunel built the first layout in the 1840s.

the rail engineer • April 2014


The first requirement for building the viaduct was to stabilise the ground ready for the construction of bridge piers, box structures and culverts. Extensive lengths of sheet piling were installed to support the existing running lines and to cater for the varying levels encountered on the site. More than 1008 Continuous Flight Auger (CFA) piles, varying in diameter from 900mm to 1050mm, were also placed, some of which were adjacent to running lines. A careful programme, designed and reviewed hour-byhour, was introduced to maximise efficiency and avoid any disruption to the railway timetable. This worked well and the ground work was completed successfully, although there were periods of terrible weather and site flooding. Clement explained that, during these periods, it was important to inspire the entire workforce to focus on the end goal and the belief that all targets are achievable when they work together as a team, regardless of conditions. Various innovative methods were introduced and, on occasions, the piling had to be carried out within two-metre-diameter tubes which kept the groundwater from gushing up to destabilise the piling mat.


Viaduct construction Clement Kwegyir-Afful is Network Rail’s project manager for civils work on the site. He has been connected with the construction of the viaduct from the beginning, when Network Rail appointed Atkins to design this new structure. Clement was involved with the tendering process and, in November 2012, the letting of the ICE 7th Edition construct-only contract to Balfour Beatty (the contract was later changed to an ICC Target Cost contract). The value of the work was approximately £45 million and the site start date was originally set at 7 January. However, Balfour Beatty could only start in certain areas in April after the completion of stage F, track and S&T removal. William Smith is Balfour Beatty’s Project Director.


the rail engineer • April 2014

As well as the CFA piling, an additional 1851 Vibro concrete column (VCC) piles, each six metres long and 600mm in diameter, were installed at each end of the viaduct to support the reinforced earth ramps. In total there are now 21.5km of CFA piles and 10.5km of VCC piles in the ground supporting the structure of the new viaduct.

Piers fixed and free Atkins designed two types of bridge pier, one a fixed pier two metres wide and the other a free pier 1.2 metres wide. The fixed piers are supported on a 16 pile configuration and the free piers are supported by eight piles. The reinforced concrete fixed and free piers alternate and they are positioned 25 metres apart, ready to support seven precast concrete beams. The design requires these precast concrete beams to be fixed together longitudinally with interlocking reinforced concrete over the fixed piers, thus allowing bending moment forces to be transferred into the columns and for the beams to be freely supported on the free piers with a 60mm gap between the beams. The beams were fabricated and supplied by Shay Murtagh and had to be transported across the Irish sea to Liverpool and then on to site by road. It was important that the beams arrived on time and facing in the right direction given the fixed and free ends involved. Whenever possible, the beams were tandem lifted into position using 200 tonne and 160 tonne crawler cranes provided by Weldex. Where tandem lifting was not possible, a 500 tonne mobile crane was

used to position the beams. This operation was logistically very complex and required considerable effort and skill from the supplier to ensure that all worked well, which it did.

Under/over boxes Whilst the beams were being delivered and positioned, three concrete box structures were being built to accommodate the locations where one track was to pass under another. The Reading west box, where the existing freight line passes under the viaduct travelling toward Didcot, had to be constructed when possessions were made available because the freight line was still in use during construction. The second box is located at the other end of the viaduct where the new freight line passes under the viaduct toward the station and the third box transfers the Cross Country route off the Festival Line viaduct which runs alongside and then underneath the main viaduct. These three box locations are significant structures in their own right with 900mm diameter piles running longitudinally, supporting the box walls. An insitu concrete deck was then constructed over the precast concrete deck beams and finally insitu cantilevered walkways constructed over the deck edge beams ready to receive the ballast and track. Clement was keen to point out that, wherever possible, material excavated from site was being recycled and the demolished material from the old train depot and ancillary buildings was being crushed and regraded. The material was then being used to provide fill for the reinforced earth ramps at either end of the viaduct.

the rail engineer • April 2014



the rail engineer • April 2014

The area close to the demolished depot and the new freight line was a wetland area and, to compensate for the loss of this land, Network Rail agreed with the Environmental Agency that they would construct a reception pond with flood relief culverts constructed underneath the new freight line. Network Rail estimates that, by using combinations of imported fills from 100% recycled sources as well as the reuse of pilearising materials from the works, they will achieve over 90% diversion from landfill. This is, without doubt, a significant achievement.

which has the capacity to generate considerable heat and therefore additional strength. So, using the ‘Match Curing’ technique, electrodes are inserted into the insitu concrete to measure the temperature and the sample cubes are kept in a bath of water maintained at the same temperature. As a consequence, it has been possible to determine accurately the higher strength of the insitu concrete compared to the cube and therefore commence the next phase of work in advance of the programme. This simple initiative has enabled the team to make some significant savings in time.

Time challenge

All deadlines met

Throughout the project there has been a determined effort to complete the work ahead of schedule. Already, the Reading project team has shaved off a total of twelve months off the original timetable which, as Clement pointed out, is mainly down to time saved revamping the civils work. As part of this on-going effort, Clement explained that there is a concrete laboratory on the viaduct site and a technique called ‘Match Curing’ is used to determine the strength of concrete. Normally, sample cubes taken from a batch of concrete are crushed to determine its strength. However, the concrete cube does not necessarily reflect the true strength of the insitu concrete

Clement was keen to reveal that the team has not missed a deadline yet on this project. He believes that, by

working alongside the many different groups of skilled people involved in this project, including Balfour Beatty staff, reinforcement fixers, carpenters and scaffolders from SWORD, URS environmental advisors and crane operators from Weldex, they will continue to deliver on time. At any one time there are more than 400 personnel on site and they all appear to share Clement’s determination to meet the deadlines. The viaduct will be completed by the end of July this year ready for track installation by Network Rail. The Festival Line viaduct and Freight Line will be completed by mid January 2015. So, it looks like the final piece of the Reading project jigsaw will be in place well ahead of time. This is great news and there will be a worthy railway asset in place for generations to come. The layout will also be equipped with the necessary infrastructure required for the next phase of development, the electrification of the GWML. As a footnote, once the tracks are in use over the viaduct, Network Rail will be able to complete the widening of Cow Lane from one lane to two. It will also be lowered by about two metres which will then allow buses to use this route for the first time. Cow Lane is a notorious bottleneck, so motorists as well as rail passengers will be able to appreciate the full benefit of this fascinating project.


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the rail engineer • April 2014

A brief history of time

the rail engineer • April 2014


E Mungo Stacy

instein’s general theory of relativity describes the gravitational effect of large bodies: spacetime curves due to the presence of matter and energy. A similar effect appears to apply to large rail infrastructure programmes. Often these seem to warp into a series of incomprehensibly large attention-grabbing statistics whilst absorbing vast quantities of resources. Take Thameslink. Or rather, not the whole of Thameslink, but just Thameslink Key Output 2. Running over 93 months from 2011 to 2019, this £2.4 billion programme will, amongst other works, reconstruct London Bridge station and provide capacity for 24 trains per hour in each direction through the core route.

At The Rail Engineer, there’s no denying we like to cover the big stuff. But, as rail engineers know, complex programmes are the sum of their constituent projects. And the small parts can have their own difficulties and complexities, and be just as crucial to successful delivery of the overall programme as the major blockades.


the rail engineer • April 2014

One such project was signal gantry XTD 3736. This was successfully installed by Lundy Projects, working for Balfour Beatty Rail, on the night of Saturday 1 March. Whilst a small element in itself, it had critical links to the overall Thameslink programme and was subject to some interesting spacetime effects.

Long-span gantry During Christmas 2014, the major LL09 blockade will reconfigure London Bridge station and commission the six low-level platforms. In order to de-risk the blockade, works to install gantry 3736 were brought forward. This was driven particularly by the weather risk, outside Network Rail’s control, which could force the abandonment of crane lifts. Three of these large gantries are required to be in place by the Christmas blockade, and 3736 is the second. Once the decision was made to accelerate installation, Lundy Projects were given only eight weeks to design, manufacture and install the gantry and associated substructures. Time was therefore extremely tight. The gantry is located on the 11-track viaduct approach to the east of London Bridge station. The tracks already occupy most of the structure width so there was limited room for foundations. Therefore, the gantry spans eight of the tracks with a span of 31 metres. A cantilever over a further two tracks takes the total length to 38 metres spanning 10 tracks. The gantry is a Warren Truss arrangement with two support columns. The design was undertaken by Lundy Projects’ subcontract designer, Aspin Consulting. There was room between tracks 3 and 4 for a regular pad foundation. At the south side there was no room for a new foundation between the tracks and the viaduct parapet wall. Therefore a new foundation had to be created at road level, some 12 metres below the gantry level. This foundation needed to be piled due to the large overturning moments caused by the height of the support leg and the span of the signal gantry. Space was extremely limited for the new foundation. Part of an existing building needed to be removed to make room, and even then there was only a nominal three metres clearance between the viaduct and the remaining building. Time was also short. The building’s tenants, Tower Antiques, only vacated the premises three weeks before the superstructure installation was due. This followed an extremely complicated property negotiation by Network Rail. It also created a key link to the foundation design as it precluded any ground investigation being carried out at the exact location until the tenants had vacated and demolition was complete.

Design and manufacture Lundy Projects was in charge of the overall signal gantry sub- and superstructure conceptual and detail designs. “We had to ensure that high level conceptual designs were realistic and achievable by all multi-disciplined parties involved in delivering this structure,” project manager Jamie Lundy explained. “Material availability, procurement of materials, manufacturing timescales, finishes, design approvals, curing times for concrete and so on all had to be taken into consideration to allow an achievable program to be developed, approved and ultimately implemented in such a short time”.

Within a week from starting the design, Lundy, working closely with Network Rail and Balfour Beatty, produced a conceptual 3D design for both the suband superstructure ready for structural and detailed designs to start. The procurement of materials and in-house manufacturing offered by Lundy commenced concurrently with detailing the signal gantry to ensure delivery timescales were still achievable and met. The gantry incorporates some neat features to facilitate future stages of the wider programme. The gantry has been installed prior to re-signalling, therefore the existing signalling remains operational. The underside of the gantry was therefore set high enough to avoid blocking sightlines to the existing signals. Likewise, the signal platforms are installed in a temporary position higher than their final level. This will allow the signalling contractor to install the signals and cables and undertake soak testing, before lowering the signal heads to their final positions. This will be undertaken using road-rail plant, avoiding the need for large craneage and reducing risk for this stage.


the rail engineer • April 2014

Foundation redesign Aspin Consulting designed both the foundation and the superstructure. Pile installation was carried out by Aspin Foundations while the pilecap installation was contracted to Terrawise. Tom Keating, associate at Aspin Consulting, explained: “The south foundation was not at all straightforward. We were very restricted with the working space and this limited the rigs we could use.” 508mm diameter steel piles, which could be twisted into the ground rather than driven, were proposed to minimise disturbance to the adjacent viaduct. However, ground conditions proved to be worse than expected; it had not been possible to carry out boreholes at the site location due to the antiques building so conditions had been inferred from other investigations.

Consulting redesigned the foundation in two days. Again, close working with Network Rail gave a swift approval of the design. The revised design used 150mm diameter grouted steel piles with closed end casings, which avoided the water ingress problems. These were installed by an in-pile Grundomat air-driven piling hammer. A larger number of the smaller piles were needed, and over four days the 24 piles were driven to set at around seven metres below ground level. With the clock now at T minus 6 days, and Aspin Foundations having completed the foundations, the restricted site was handed over to Terrawise to install the pilecap reinforcement and concrete. The change in pile design meant the pilecap needed to be increased in depth by one metre, and this gave increased complexity around a brick culvert which had previously passed below the pilecap. C50 concrete was used to achieve the early strength required to install the gantry: the pour was completed at T minus 4 days.

Four hour possession

Problems were apparent as the first piles were installed. The recent severe rain had led to a high water table and there were concerns about gravels and fines being removed by pumping, potentially creating voids around the existing foundations. The smaller rigs also had limited power as gravels became trapped between the auger and casing. Piling was abandoned and a new foundation methodology considered. Now with only two and a half weeks to go until the gantry installation, Aspin

The possession on Saturday/Sunday 1/2 March was a planned 4-hour window to install the whole gantry. It was due to start at 02:30 but in the event, access was not available until 04:30 due to problems establishing the worksite. Jon Andrews of Lundy Projects explained: “With a slight delay at the beginning of the possession we had less time than expected. Balfour Beatty were on site as the principal contractor, liaising with the Network Rail site representatives who were in close contact with Network Rail Operations. We reviewed the situation and took a joint decision to proceed, as we were confident that we could install the gantry in the time available if all went to plan”. With time being tight and the nearest road-rail access points being some distance from the site, mobile elevated working platforms could not be used for bolting the main boom to the gantry support legs. Therefore, scaffold access towers were designed and would be used as an alternative solution. Once the possession and line block was granted, the towers were lifted into position on

track ready for the steel erectors. The adjacent Druid Street was closed for 48 hours to allow the three sections of gantry to be assembled at ground level and a 1,000 tonne crane set up. Sarens undertook the contract lift. Signal gantry XTD 3736 was installed on time, safely and the lines handed back within the agreed time scale.

Collaborative working Afterwards, Jamie Lundy reflected on the collaboration which had led to the successful installation: “I believe the hallmark of Lundy is not in the complexity of the projects we deliver, but rather in the simplicity with which we deliver them. This is credit to, not just Lundy Projects, but also to our client and preferred suppliers. Without close and open collaboration with Network Rail, Balfour Beatty and our supply chain the opportunity in bringing the installation of Signal Gantry XTD 3736 forward to de-risk the Christmas 2014 blockade would have been missed”. Andy Hoffman of Aspin Consulting agreed: “Complex projects require experienced innovators; driven individuals with collective motivations and aspirations. Trust, empowerment and personal responsibility is liberating to both individuals and to organisations in succeeding on complex assignments. Lundy and Aspin Group shoulder these fundamental ingredients, which bring successes to such projects.” Chris Ottley of Balfour Beatty Rail added: “Without doubt there were a number of occasions leading up to the possession where the obstacles appeared to be too much and the easier option would have been to delay the installation. Only through a true collaborative approach between all parties and sheer perseverance was this installation possible.” Lundy Project’s contract includes a total of ten signal gantries, which in turn are just one element of Balfour Beatty’s signalling related minor civils contract at London Bridge. This one has been the most challenging gantry installed to date - but then, everything is relative.


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the rail engineer • April 2014


moving into REAL rail

the rail engineer • April 2014




ostain is a well-known name. It must be so as, in the waiting area of the company’s headquarters in Maidenhead, there is a large coffee-table book entitled “Business Superbrands”. Costain’s name is in there.

Most people would associate the Costain name with major, prestigious, one-off projects such as the Thames Barrier (1982), the Channel Tunnel (1993) or the new Hong Kong airport (1996). One might also link the Costain brand with civil engineering associated with the railway environment, but it is fair to say that many would not consider Costain to be a major rail engineering company. However, they would be wrong, and that is why The Rail Engineer went to meet Gren Edwards, Costain’s director of rail, to discover the story behind this significant move into real rail engineering. Gren joined Costain in December 2010. His objective was to grow Costain’s rail engineering business by acquiring the skills required and to use the significant talent that existed within the company’s 5,000-strong workforce. Before joining Costain, Gren had developed a wealth of experience by creating a railway engineering company, Grant Rail, which started as a supplier to other contractors before emerging as a principal contractor for Network Rail and London Underground. When that company was acquired by the Dutch-based business VolkerWessels, he stayed on as CEO of the emerging company VolkerRail. Shortly after joining Costain, Gren appointed Ross MacKenzie as customer director. Ross, an ex-army major, has been with Costain since 2008.

Early railway projects At the time Gren joined Costain, it was already carrying out a number of prestigious and important railway projects. For example, the company had been working for Union Railways since 2001, cutting 18km of twin 8.15 metre diameter tunnels through the densely populated east end of London working in close proximity to other rail tunnels. Costain created a joint venture (JV) with Skanska and Bachy to win this contract’ and they succeeded to deliver the tunnels ahead of programme and within budget. As part of the high speed project, Union Railways needed a prestige London terminus for the new Channel Tunnel service. St Pancras station was chosen but at the time it was in very poor condition. A JV was formed led by Costain and the project went on to be an award winning success and London now has a station of which it can be truly proud. Some time ago, supermarket chain Tesco developed a plan to build a store over a cutting through Gerrards Cross in north London. A contractor was engaged to bridge the cutting by creating a tunnel over it. Unfortunately, the tunnel partially collapsed in 2005, blocking the railway line. In 2006, in collaboration with Network Rail, Tesco approached Costain to find a way to complete the tunnel and allow the store to be built. Costain redesigned the tunnel using wherever possible the materials already on site and built the new store and car park.


the rail engineer • April 2014

Little acorns! Then in 2008, Network Rail appointed the Costain Laing O’Rourke JV to construct the enlarged station at Farringdon as part of the Thameslink and Crossrail schemes. This was a complex programme which combined traditional civil engineering with complex and often detailed trackside work, requiring possession management skills and a significant awareness and appreciation of signalling, power and other operating systems. Costain introduced a novel temporary platform system to protect the track from heavy plant movements. It was deployed quickly at the start of the possession, and easily moved at the end to restore the track to full operational order. Work at Farringdon Station was still in progress when Gren joined Costain and he was keen to point out how pivotal this programme of work was. It enabled Costain to gain credibility as a contractor which fully understands what is involved when working alongside an operational railway. As a consequence, it also offered Costain an opportunity to move from a stop-start rail business to one that has consistent turnover with a continuous flow of work. In order to enable Costain to build credibility with their clients, Network Rail, London Underground, Crossrail and Thameslink, it was agreed that they would need to develop their technical expertise. Therefore, Gren appointed a Professional Head each for Track, Electrification, Rail Civil Engineering and Signalling. Gren emphasised that, even though at present they have not yet ventured into signalling design and installation, they need to have the knowledge and the associated awareness to function effectively in an operational railway environment, hence the post. With these key personnel in place the company could start to offer a quality service to the client that was different. It would not only draw in the newly acquired railway skills but it would also enable Costain to share and transfer the significant skills, lessons learnt and experience that had been gained over the years in Costain from working in Nuclear, Water and Highways.

Emerging business strategy Ross MacKenzie then explained the broader strategy that they adopted. Traditional railway work such as that at Farringdon, St Pancras, Gerrards Cross and, as principal contractor, at Reading and London Bridge stations is always going to be an important part of their portfolio. However, to create consistency of work flow, the company needed to win contracts that are more closely associated with the operational railway. This it has managed to do by successfully tendering for the five-year, multi-discipline, Network Rail framework contract for buildings, civils and enhancements for the Southern Region (Kent).

Alongside this initiative, Costain has been awarded Network Rail’s north-east infrastructure and stations project, which involves remodelling a significant number of stations on the northeastern part of the emerging Crossrail network. In addition, there are significant upgrades of track and associated electrification and signal integration. This is a diverse package of work to be completed over the next 3 years.

Complementary skills In parallel to this, the Costain team’s strategy also focuses on areas of work where the diverse range of skills required favoured a JV approach. This was particularly appropriate if Costain wanted to feature in Network Rail’s electrification programme and, after three years of behind the scenes discussion and negotiation, ABC Electrification emerged (Alstom / Babcock / Costain), a reputable power-house of complementary skills and experience. To date, ABC has won contracts for the electrification of the London North West (South) route (£435 million), Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Programme (£75 million) and, just recently, the Welsh Valley Lines (£450 million). Alongside this significant package is the previously-awarded West Coast main line power upgrade phase 3B work worth £50 million. To round off the strategy, the Costain team started to look at multi-disciplinary systems, focussing specifically on the fit out programme for all the Crossrail tunnels. Another joint venture has emerged, known as ATC (Alstom, TSO, and Costain). This JV has the combined skills to install track, overhead line and power supply equipment and it has been awarded three Crossrail contracts valued at £300 million.

Develop solutions As Gren pointed out, it makes for a fascinating story which is a testament to the talent that

exists within the company. He believes that one must have the ability to listen to what the client really wants and then develop solutions, often to challenging problems, to deliver what is required. Clearly, the order book shows that Costain’s various clients do think that Costain has the ability to find solutions to challenging problems and they do think that Costain is a company that fully understands the challenges which an operational railway environment can throw up. To put this into numerate terms, the turnover for rail related business within Costain in 2010 was about £30 million per annum, with significant peaks and troughs. Today, the turnover is £300 million per annum, which is sustainable, and there is a forward order book of around £1.4 billion. The figures speak for themselves, and now nobody can deny that Costain is a ‘real’ rail company.

Major contract in east London and Essex

More success as Network Rail recently announced that it has awarded a £150 million contract to Costain for the majority of Crossrail works planned on the north-east surface section of the Crossrail route, between Stratford in east London and Shenfield in Essex. The contract includes the design and build of major station improvements at Romford and Ilford as well as improvements at stations including Forest Gate, Goodmayes, Harold Wood, Gidea Park, Chadwell Heath and Brentwood. The detailed design phase is now getting underway and main works will take place between later this year and extending to 2017. Also, major infrastructure improvements will be delivered including the upgrade of existing tracks and overhead electrification equipment as well as extra train stabling capacity and turnback facilities.

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the rail engineer • April 2014


Back to

Victoria T

he redevelopment of London Underground Victoria station was first covered in January 2013 (issue 99). In that report, the comment was made that The Rail Engineer would revisit the project to keep track of how work was going. So arrangements were made to meet with Keith Ramsay, section manager - south ticket hall, at the project offices at 25 Terminus Place. He was only too pleased to give an update on the progress that has been made by the Taylor Woodrow / BAM Nuttall joint venture.

Background The project is focussed primarily on providing more space and better Victoria Line access for the very large and rapidly increasing numbers of customers seeking to use the station each day. It is already regularly necessary to control access to the station

for safety reasons during peak periods due to congestion, which sometimes requires holding customers outside the entrances. It was predicted that by 2020, if nothing had been done, the station would have been closed more often than open. In addition, there is no step free access to any of the LUL platforms at the station at present. The project addresses these issues in a number of ways. The first is to open up access to both ends of each Victoria Line platform, there currently being access only to the southern end of each. Next is the construction of an entirely new ticket hall to the north of the station, providing a new large circulation area at the head of the new northern accesses. The existing south ticket hall is too cramped for today’s needs, and so this is being doubled in size. Nine new escalators and eight new lifts are being provided. An emergency access shaft is being built, with lifts and stairs to provide separate access for the emergency services and for emergency evacuation purposes. The existing stairs to the

main line station are being widened and new lifts are to be provided here too.

Work in progress Transport & Works Act authority for the scheme was granted in late 2009, and work began on site on the Mott MacDonald designed scheme in May 2011. The Taylor Woodrow / BAM Nuttall JV contract is a significant part of the overall £700 million programme and the new works are due to be completed and opened to the public in full in 2018. Some 400 people are currently working on the site, about half are employees of the JV and the remainder of sub-contractors which include Cementation Skanska (piling), Keller (jet grouting), T Clarke (electrical installations) and Bailey Rail (mechanical installations). Around the station site, the enabling works for the project have been demanding in themselves. The area involved is large and is one of the most intensively occupied areas of London. The usual service diversions were complex. Then there

the rail engineer • April 2014

is the King’s Scholars’ Pond Sewer close by the site of the new evacuation shaft. Carrying the former River Tyburn, this is a large, old and sensitive structure. New switch rooms for the station needed to go in and be commissioned too. The north ticket hall is going below ground at the junction of Bressenden Place and Victoria Street. The new access to street level will be from Cardinal Place. Constructing it has meant moving the Bressenden Place highway bodily eastwards, partly onto the roof slab over the new works.

Water, water everywhere Excavations are mostly in sands and gravels as the London Clay beds here are below the required level of most of the new works. Ground water levels are high; indeed the existing station remains open only by means of the continuous removal by pumping of huge volumes of water. The new ticket hall structures will be watertight, but that means that they have to be tied down by piles to prevent them floating when groundwater levels are high. All this water has its uses though - it is proposed to be used in a cooling system for the station as it is significantly colder than the ambient temperature in the tunnels. Because of the generally wet conditions, the ground is first prepared using jet grouting. This entails the insertion of plastic sleeves in a carefully designed pattern. A drill sleeve is

inserted into each one in turn through which the grouting is deployed under high pressure. The grout and pressure are both carefully selected to ensure that the groundwater in the soil is displaced and replaced by the grout, creating a roughly cylindrical zone of strengthened soil. The design of the grouting pattern ensures that each column joins with its neighbours to form an impermeable barrier of material through which tunnelling or excavation may proceed easily without water penetrating into the works. Getting the necessary pattern of grout tubes into a congested site like this one is tricky. Above the zone to be grouted is a mass of utilities and services which must not be damaged or disturbed. On this site, extensive use has been made of 3D computer modelling (the BIM of which we hear much nowadays, and for which this project won a BCI Award in 2012) to map the positions of these obstructions, model the grouting positions and visualise the expected


grout penetration. By this means, it has been possible to avoid conflicts and see where there might be gaps in the effectiveness of the grouting and avoid these occurring.

Piles of challenges For the ticket halls, the method of construction is to install secant piled walls around the perimeter of each worksite and excavate the new voids ‘top down’. By creating these perimeter walls down into the underlying London clay, the water is cut off from entering the excavations. The necessary internal columns within the site are driven from the top by piling rig, as are the plunge columns intended to support the planned over-site developments. Casting the roof slabs of the new ticket halls will prop the tops of the piles. As excavations below this proceed, lower props will be required, but casting the floor slabs level by level as the correct depth is reached will meet that need.


the rail engineer • April 2014

The introduction of Skanska’s piling rig and handling crane for the secant walls into the site of the south ticket hall extension was tricky. This site is quite small, and the ramp required if the rig was to be driven down into the hole on its own crawler tracks would almost have filled it. In addition, it was estimated that around 280 vehicle movements, equivalent to approximately 3.6 tonnes of carbon and 4,500 litres of fuel, would have been required to get the rig into and out of the site this way, since the ramp would have needed removing once the rig was in place so as to allow it to do its work. That would have meant building and removing the ramp twice. The JV has worked with heavy lifting and transportation specialist Mammoet before, so approached that company for options . The proposal was for a lifting gantry that employed two 100-tonne strand jacks to lift the rig. Once lifted, the rig could be moved laterally by means of carriages running along the gantry beams. This permitted the rig to be lowered into the excavation and for its subsequent removal after Skanska had completed the eight week piling task.

Moving Bressenden Place The site for the new north ticket hall is larger so Mammoet’s gantry wasn’t required, but there was a different complication here instead. In this case, as already mentioned, there was a road over the top, Bressenden Place. This meant that the ticket hall structure had to be constructed in two parts so that the road could be shifted laterally onto the first completed section before work could commence on the second. The road move from east to west was undertaken over one weekend.

An innovation of this project was the form of protection installed over the roof slabs of the new ticket halls. Instead of the tiles usually installed on top of the waterproofing, the JV proposed a new system which was agreed by the client. After the application of sprayed ‘Pitchmastic’ waterproofing, a 100mm thick layer of red fibrous concrete was added. This is more economical to install and arguably gives better protection against damage by future excavation.

Hand tunnelling The new emergency access shaft goes down past the King’s Scholars’ Pond Sewer to connect to the existing Victoria Line platform tunnels, bottoming out in between the two of them. The shaft passes so close to the tunnels that its cross-section has to change from circular above them to a narrower elliptical shape as it passes between them. Even so, the cast iron tunnels segments were exposed in places as the shaft was excavated. There was much concern about this exposure because these sections of each of the tunnels were lined with experimental unbolted cast iron segments when the Victoria Line was built in the 1960s. Due to the care taken by the construction team, close monitoring of the tunnels detected

movements of no more than 3mm, so the trains inside were able to continue to run undisturbed throughout the works. The shaft was dug in one metre lifts, and each of these was lined with sprayed concrete before the next could commence. The connections into the station tunnels of the Victoria Line necessitated digging and lining a 15 metre long passageway from the shaft base parallel to and in between the station tunnels, then a cross-passage to complete the actual connections into them. All of this was hand mined, exposing the tunnel linings either side of the main passageway, and requiring these to be propped temporarily until the permanent works were placed. In this job alone some 1,000 tonnes of clay were excavated while 114 tonnes of steel and 250 tonnes of concrete were placed during 40,000 man hours of work.

More jet grouting Extensive tunnelling is required for access passages and escalator tunnels, and jet grouting was judged to be the best way to allow this to be done safely in the conditions, with the water table only seven metres below ground level. Over 2,000 jet grout columns are being installed by sub-contractor Keller to create a safe zone for the tunnelling to pass through.

the rail engineer • April 2014

award in 2013 for this use of the jet grouting technique. The tunnels, generally six metres in diameter, are being dug through the jet grouted zones and given a primary lining of sprayed concrete impregnated with steel fibres which is applied by robotic equipment. After the installation of a waterproofing layer, an in-situ concrete secondary lining will be applied.

Being neighbourly

This, the largest jet grouting project in the UK to date, is nearly complete. The grouting plan was designed in 3D software and the actual results are monitored closely and are similarly modelled in 3D to produce an accurate as-built record. Probing into the grouted area is undertaken to detect ungrouted permeable zones so that, if any are found, they may be rectified. The project won a ‘Ground Engineering’

The site is very congested and surrounded by heavily used roads, footpaths and, of course, railways. The theatres have matinees as well as the usual evening performances and are particularly sensitive to noise and vibrations while they are taking place. This all means very careful attention to planning and sequencing of the works themselves and the associated movements into and out of the sites. The project team is very proud of its good record in terms of relationships with neighbours,


environmental performance and in respect of health, safety and welfare. The JV partners each have safety and quality programmes and co-operate to ensure that the JV delivers on all of these on this project. BAM Nuttall’s strap-line ‘Don’t walk by’ has been taken to heart across the JV in the pursuance of safety, and Taylor Woodrow’s ‘Defect Free’ programme ensures that quality is delivered. The project itself also runs a safety and quality programme called ‘Beyond Zero’ and an extensive community liaison programme provides regular information to locals and travellers on the trains and buses using the area. The project has won a number of awards for safety and quality as well as National Skills Academy awards in 2012 and 2013. In October 2012, the project reached a million man hours without a RIDDOR reportable accident, and went on to achieve 1.4 million hours (285 days) before the first reportable incident.


the rail engineer • April 2014

Acoustic sensing

the future for rail monitoring? CLIVE KESSELL


he advent of fibre optics some 30 years ago revolutionised telecommunications transmission technology. Since then, other applications of light source emission have emerged which could have a similar impact on aspects of everyday life. One such by-product is the measurement of acoustic energy, which sounds complex but, in real terms, is simply the recognition of noise and vibration near to a fibre optic cable. This is now used in a variety of industries worldwide for event detection. It first came to the notice of the UK rail sector in 2010 when a train was derailed in Scotland after hitting a boulder that had rolled on to the line in the Pass of Brander between Glasgow and Oban. The existing detection system, comprising of a mechanical system of trip wires, had failed to detect the incident and the Network Rail Glasgow team looked around for better ways of detecting falling boulders and other objects. A test site was established to see whether a fibre cable would pick up such a situation with promising results. An article describing the test appeared in the March 2012 edition of The Rail Engineer. Since then the technology, which is now called distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) has moved on apace and The Rail Engineer recently visited OptaSense at its research and development facility in Winfrith, Dorset, to meet with the team headed by chief technical officer Dr David Hill and learn more.

The breakthrough has been the ability to use an optical fibre as the sensing device. An injected light source sees a marginal change in refractive index at the point of disturbance, thus causing a change in the reflected signal from that point. The time for the light to travel back to the source enables the distance of the disturbance from the origin to be calculated. Since fibre optic cables are now commonplace alongside railway tracks and roads, it may not be necessary to lay a dedicated cable but merely allocate a spare fibre in an existing cable. The positioning of the fibre relative to the likely interference source is not critical but there are optimum places where it will perform best. For a railway line, burial about 10cm down near to the sleeper end will enable detection of even the smallest incursion on to the track while having two fibres, one each side of the track, is perfection. Unless a dedicated cable is to be laid, however, these situations will not be the norm. An existing cable laid in a concrete trough, a buried pipe, or directly in the ground, will still pick up acoustic energy from close by events. Clearly, a passing train will give a very strong signal and any rock fall will equally give a clear indication of something happening. A track gang working with shovels to dig holes or pack ballast will be picked up, as will someone using a hacksaw to cut cables in the route. With experience, every type of occurrence creates its own recognisable pattern which can then be ‘decoded’ at the monitoring point.

System development

So what is acoustic sensing? The right-hand screen shows the test route at Winfrith.

Every time even something as small as a human footstep is taken, a small amount of energy is transmitted into the ground. If a sensing mechanism is placed near to the event, the vibration will be picked up and can be transmitted to some form of monitoring equipment where the event can be analysed for type, strength and location.

Having established the technical principle, turning this into a practical way of realising the potential is a project in itself. OptaSense, a company within the QinetiQ group, started business in 2008 initially with just a handful of employees. It has now grown to over 160 people. QinetiQ brought together decades of sonar signal processing expertise and capability from the QinetiQ group with a new fibre optic distributed acoustic sensing technique from an external company called Sensoptics. The combined capability became OptaSense and is now the world’s

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leading distributed optical sensing company with research, development and manufacturing based in the UK and the majority of its products exported around the world. The OptaSense DAS system injects a 1550 nanometre wavelength pulse of light into the fibre 2,500 times a second. The fibre length operated by a single device is typically 40 km and is a single-ended system. DAS works on the principle that no fibre is perfect and throughout the length of the cable, there will be minor perturbations that cause small reflections of light that in the quiescent state show up as tiny peaks on a computer screen at the measuring end. The unique pattern of these peaks allows the fibre to be graduated into sample points. These can vary between every 1- 15 metres, although typically the measurement section is 10 metres. Over a 40km length, some 4000 measurements of the fibre can be interpreted which pinpoint any event along the cable with considerable accuracy.

Practical realisation So far, so good - but interpreting events needs to be taken a step further. Along a 40km length some events will happen on a very regular basis; road vehicles passing over or under the track on a bridge, a level crossing for either road or foot users, an access walkway alongside the track, and such like. To prevent alarms being raised every time a routine event happens, the alarm for that 10 metre zone can be disabled and it would be the customer’s choice as to whether every occurrence was recorded.


Another differentiator will be the type of acoustic energy detected and the pattern recognition that this generates. Thus someone digging a hole will be seen as different to someone using a hacksaw. The customer might choose to alarm for one but not the other, based on their threat profile. Being able to present events in a manner that can be easily interpreted at the control point is a crucial element of the system. With so much data being collected and stored, it would be tempting to over-provide information to the controller, thus causing bewilderment and confusion as to what is exactly taking place. OptaSense has therefore put considerable effort into making the monitoring screen user friendly and providing operators with Decision Ready Data™.

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the rail engineer • April 2014

A variety of data options is available, and the choice will depend on the type of control point being used. In a Traffic Management or Rail Control Centre, where the operations staff have other duties to perform, it might just be a simple alarm that triggers an interrogation by a member of the technical support staff. In other implementations, the system is integrated into the process control systems directly and activates prescribed actions e.g. changing signals or sending a preset message. What is important is that an event can be accurately detected, classified and located in real time. This information is presented in a decision-ready format to allow the appropriate response, for example the dispatch of a team to investigate onsite or a police call out. To demonstrate the capability, OptaSense has run out a 3km length of buried fibre optic cable around its Winfrith facility, part of which is runs alongside the Poole to Weymouth rail line just to the west of Wool Station. This cable is linked to a typical monitoring station setup complete with CCTV. In a demonstration of the remote monitoring capability, two-way radio was used to instruct a person outside to perform a number of threat scenarios such as cable theft. The results were all immediately visible in the monitoring station.. The proximity of the site to the southern boundary of the Poole - Weymouth rail line means the passage and health of trains passing along this line can be monitored. OptaSense believes it would be perfectly possible to link the system into a spare fibre of the FTN cable and thus monitor events on the line over a 40km distance.

DAS technology could replace a number of conventional trackside sensors thereby reducing the cost associated with track monitoring. Under the collaboration, a total of 25 different test scenarios are being investigated including SIL4 applications (safety integrity level 4 - the most dependable level of European Functional Safety Standards).

Future potential

Experience to date Display showing the OptaSense system acting as an axle-counter.

Systems have been installed to protect over 13,000km of asset worldwide, most of which is oil and gas pipelines but the technology is currently monitoring on approximately 500Km of rail line and 100km of roads. In the rail sector, systems are currently deployed on Deutsche Bahn (Germany), ÖBB (Austria), and two major US railroads. Other projects include underground metro lines, European high speed lines, African rail lines as well as Australian rail freight lines associated with the mining industry. Most interestingly, DB and OptaSense recently announced a collaboration to evaluate whether

Customers who have experience of the OptaSense systems are enthusiastic about potential uses beyond the current ones of train or vehicle movement, rock fall, cable theft, wheel flats and presence of people. There are aspirations to move up the SIL ladder with perceived applications being: »» Hot axle box detection by noticing a different sound of one axle compared to others; »» Train integrity by continually counting axles as the train progresses; »» Monitoring the operation of point machines or level crossing barrier motors by detecting changes in machinery noise to detect potential failure; »» Improving user-worked crossing safety by giving time before the train arrives; »» Train positioning information as a feed into signalling systems. All long linear asset industries know the trade-off between the desire to monitor the whole length of an asset (rail, road, pipeline and border) and the prohibitive cost that this would entail using conventional technology. OptaSense has a vision to build the Earth’s Nervous System™ where these assets - the arteries of global commerce - are protected and managed. This vision appears to be both achievable and affordable.

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the rail engineer • April 2014


t’s often said in engineering circles that, if something looks right, then it is right. When Direct Rail Services (DRS) recently showcased the first of their new 15-strong fleet of Class 68 dieselelectric locomotives the sun shone and everything about 68002 ‘Intrepid’ looked very right indeed. That DRS are proud of the new locomotive was very obvious, and so they should be. Hailed as a ‘new generation’ locomotive, DRS says, ‘The new locomotive is set to deliver a significant performance benefit for both DRS and its clients.’ No kidding - this DRS venture is positively heroic!

UKLight The Class 68 simply exudes excellence, resplendent in an updated version of the DRS ‘compass’ livery. Its design is derived from the existing Vossloh ‘EuroLight’ four-axle locomotive which offers high power output and a low axle loading. DRS has worked closely in partnership with Beacon Rail Leasing Ltd in order to develop the concept of this new locomotive with Vossloh. EuroLight uses components from the 2022 tonne axle load Vossloh Euro locomotive

series, with weight reduction being achieved by switching to a lighter engine of the C175 series from Caterpillar Inc (CAT®) and a lighter alternator set and traction equipment from ABB Group. In producing the Class 68, the EuroLight design had in turn to be adapted to fit the UK’s more restricted loading gauge. This UK version, which Vossloh calls UKLight, also offers a higher top speed - increased from 140km/h to 160 - and fuel capacity increased from 4,000 to 5,000 litres. It has an axle loading of 21.4 tonnes. Manufacture of the locomotives is being undertaken by Vossloh España at its Valencia works - the same factory that built the Class 67 locomotives in 1999 when it was part of the GEC-Alstom group. The value of the Class 68 contract is around €45 million.

Stuart Marsh

CAT Positioned almost exactly at the centre point of the locomotive, the CAT C175-16 ACERT™ diesel engine is a derivative of Caterpillar’s very successful C175 series of 16-cylinder and 20-cylinder engines, used commonly in generator sets and heavy earth moving equipment. The C175 has been installed in locomotives elsewhere, notably the Progress Rail PR43C in the USA. This is, however, its first application in a British locomotive. The C175-16 is a medium-speed four-stroke engine with a 175mm bore and 220mm stroke, giving a displacement of 84.7 litres and producing 3,755hp (2,800bkW) at 1,740rpm. It uses electronically controlled common rail fuel injection, which allows the injection events to be tuned precisely according to the demands

the rail engineer • April 2014

placed on the engine. For instance, it is possible to provide multiple injection events, both before and after the main injection event on each power stroke. This injection strategy is varied depending upon many factors, including load, speed, engine temperature, air temperature and fuel temperature. The engine has four turbochargers with twin stage after-cooling. The CAT engines meet European Stage IIIA emission standards, and can be modified to meet 2012 IIIB emission standards by replacing the exhaust silencer with a diesel particulate filter. However, because of the UK’s restricted loading gauge, this would involve considerable re-design work if it were to be applied to the Class 68. Essential considerations for the Class 68 design were fuel consumption and ease of servicing/maintenance. It is claimed by DRS that the 4-stroke fuel-efficient CAT C17516 should offer a significant fuel saving (on a per horsepower basis) over an EMD 2-stroke power unit, as used in the Class 66. A figure of 7.07% has been quoted, but in practice it will be very difficult, and some would say unfair, to directly compare two engines running at different powers, loads and speeds in locomotives that have different design concepts. Engine servicing can be undertaken trackside, with intervals of 1,000 hours for minor services (oil change) and 18,000 hours for major servicing (top end overhaul). Finning UK Ltd is the only UK dealer for CAT equipment and will supply warranty support and parts, although DRS fitters are being trained by Vossloh. A purpose-built shed facility is being constructed by DRS at its Crewe Gresty Bridge depot to accommodate test and warranty engineers from Vossloh, ABB and Caterpillar. It will also house a dedicated stores facility for Class 68 spares and consumables. In order to reduce fuel consumption even further, the diesel engine is fitted with automatic

stop start technology. In service, the engine will shut down after a period of inactivity, for instance at a signal stop, although there is a manual override facility. This system has what DRS terms ‘day and night guard functionality’ - the engine will re-start if the coolant temperature falls below a pre-set threshold. This feature can be augmented by connecting the locomotive to a 415V 3-phase depot supply that will maintain coolant temperature, cab heating and demisters.

AC-DC-AC Caterpillar has worked closely with ABB in order to reduce the weight of the locomotive for UK use. The ABB alternator has been specifically designed for use with the C175 engine and is bolted directly to it. Some components of the engine/alternator set have been cast in aluminium rather than steel in order to save weight. The Class 68 diesel engine itself weighs 11 tonnes as opposed to 12 tonnes for the standard C175 engine. A five-


point flexible mounting system has been adopted for the engine/alternator unit. There are four mounting isolators at the front mounting point, and one rubber isolator on each of the four rear mounting points. ABB’s traction system makes use of a WGX560 6-pole 3-phase brushless alternator that is directly coupled to the engine. The alternator supplies two traction packages (ABB Boardline CC1500 DE Compact Converters) each having a rectifier to create an intermediate DC supply. This DC system is required for electric train supply (ETS) and for dynamic braking. The drive electronics (AC800 PEC) incorporates adhesion control (anti slip), backed up by automatic sanding. There are two traction inverters and one auxiliary inverter per traction package, thus giving one traction inverter per traction motor. A traction fault condition will result in power being diverted to the other three traction motors.

Bogies In common with the Vossloh EuroLight locomotives, a Bo-Bo wheel arrangement has been adopted for the Class 68. The bogies are the same as those used on the RENFE Class 334 (Vossloh Euro 3000) high speed diesel electric locomotives in Spain. Primary and secondary suspension is by means of coil springs. The ABB 4FRA6063 AC traction motors use squirrel-cage (brushless) technology and each has a rating of 600 kW at 4400 rpm. In order to reduce the unsprung mass, the traction motors are frame mounted and have flexible quill drives. DRS claims that, because of the state of the art adhesion control and braking systems, the 2-axle bogie arrangement will out-perform the threeaxle bogies of the Class 66. Braking on the Class 68 is achieved by a seamless blend of rheostatic and disc air brakes.


the rail engineer • April 2014

Testing Locomotive 68002 was shipped to Southampton docks during January 2014 and was then transported by road to Carlisle Kingmoor depot. Dynamic trials between Carlisle and Crewe began in February as part of an ongoing acceptance process.

fitted to all fifteen members of the DRS fleet for prescriptive performance analysis, as well as hard fault reporting. Locomotives 68003 and 68004 were expected to be completed in Valencia by mid-March. They were then scheduled for shipment to Liverpool docks and haulage by rail to Crewe. DRS would not be drawn on the anticipated timescale for UK acceptance of the Class 68. Completion date for the build contract remains uncertain too, but all fifteen locomotives are expected to be in the UK by late summer 2014.

Into service

At the time of writing, the locomotive had yet to move under its own power on a UK main line. However, since December 2013, number 68001 has been undergoing extensive dynamic testing at the Velim testing circuit in the Czech Republic. At the same time, telemetry from two EuroLight locomotives in service in Germany and Italy was being examined closely. The Class 68 locomotives are fitted with two sets of telemetry equipment, one being exclusively for the CAT diesel engine. This equipment will be

The potential offered by Class 68 to DRS is enormous. It needs to be of course, considering the capital outlay. These locomotives are a true mixed traffic design, combining a 100mph capability with an approximate 300kN tractive effort. The fleet will need to work seven days per week, so it is anticipated that they will be used on a wide variety of applications. They are ideally suited to high speed container traffic and passenger charter trains, but their high top speed will also make them useful for standby rescue duties. Two Class 68s can be worked in multiple, but they are unable to work in multiple with other locomotive types. They have been given RA7 route availability. The 100mph performance offers the potential for new high-speed freight services. DRS also remains hopeful of expanding its passenger operation, which is currently focused on the charter train

market. Neil McNicholas, managing director of Direct Rail Services, has said: “This is another important milestone in the strategic development of Direct Rail Services. The Class 68 locomotives are set to further extend DRS’ capabilities and give our clients an even faster and more efficient service. The Class 68 is just the first component of a wider DRS fleet strategy designed to ensure that we can offer our clients the most efficient and flexible service well into the future.”

Electric version That strategy includes an electric version of the Class 68, to be designated Class 88. Again in partnership with Beacon Rail, DRS placed an order with Vossloh last September for ten Class 88 locomotives. These will be a direct development of the Class 68, but with 25kV electric and diesel-electric modes. They will have a 4MW rating using ABB AC traction equipment plus a 950hp Caterpillar C27 diesel engine for use where there is no overhead line

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the rail engineer • April 2014

Length over buffers Bogies centres Width Height Weight Minimum curve Brake force Max speed Wheel diameter Traction system Alternator Traction motors ETS ETH index Engine Compression ration Aspiration Power Tractive effort Loco brake

20.50 metres 11.83 metres 2.69 metres 3.82 metres 86 tonnes 80 metres 62.5 tonnes 100 mph (160 kph) 1100mm AC/AC transimission with four ABB Boardline CC1500 traction inverters ABB WGX560pb6 Four ABB 4FRA6063 (600kW) 500 kW 60 Caterpillar C175-16-ACERT, 84.7 litre 16 cylinder 16.7:1 Turbocharged 2-stage after-cooled 3755 hp (2800 bkW) at 1740 rpm 317 kN (starting) Disc (electro-pneumatic) and Dynamic (electrical) 2.1 MW

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equipment. This provides more than so-called ‘last mile’ (i.e. shunting) capability. The Class 88 is a true ‘dual mode’ locomotive that has been designed to haul a train using diesel power alone. Indeed, the starting tractive effort is similar in electrical and diesel propulsion modes. The Class 88 will share many of the features of the Class 68, including the bodyshell, braking system, bogies, traction equipment and control software. Again, these locomotives will be of the mixed traffic type. Delivery of the first Class 88 is expected in late 2015, with completion of the contract by spring 2016.

the rail engineer • April 2014


Expansion DRS has an option to order further Class 68 locomotives, but no decision on this has yet been made public. Under EU emissions rulings, just 26 further new-build Stage IIIA rated locomotives are allowed before the 31 December 2014 deadline 16 for anywhere in Europe, plus 10 more for the UK. There is however no restriction on replacement Stage IIIA power units for existing locomotives. The space required for the additional equipment needed to convert the C175-16 engine to Stage IIIB compliance means that the class 68 would require substantial redesign work. A decision from DRS on whether to purchase further Class 68s will therefore be required soon.

With the benefits that the Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives will bring, the success story of Direct Rail Services is set to enter a bold new phase. It’s a story that began humbly in 1995 with just five second hand Class 20 locomotives. Today DRS is a profitable and dynamic business that is achieving

sustained growth. By acquiring new, state of the art locomotive fleets, DRS clearly seeks to consolidate itself at the forefront of rail operations within the UK. It’s not just about technical capability - successful companies also understand the value of image and style ... and Class 68 has bags of it!

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the rail engineer • April 2014


the rail engineer • April 2014


Marc Johnson


ir David Higgins has said he wants to accelerate the construction of HS2 and see Britain be more ambitious with its high-speed rail plans. In his first public outing as HS2 Ltd’s new chairman, Higgins outlined a handful of recommendations for the £42.6 billion project - the most substantial of which was to take the line up to Crewe by 2027 and complete Phase Two by 2030. As well as arriving in Crewe six years earlier than originally planned, the HS2 PLUS report recommended building a new hub interchange in the city as opposed to the current plan to connect it via a branch line off the main route. By building the 43-mile section north of Birmingham earlier, Higgins believes he can deliver the benefits of the line to the region sooner and start to set right the country’s economic imbalance.

North - not just individual cities, but the region as a whole, but only if we have the ambition to think of the big picture. So far the focus has tended to be on individual places and individual stations. I think we need to think broader than that.” How HS2 should connect with HS1 and the rest of the European high-speed rail network was also covered in the report. Higgins recommended the government scrap the current £700 million link, describing it as too much of a compromise because of the impact it would have on freight capacity on the West Coast main line, the future growth of the North London line and the people of Camden.

National benefit

Possible changes at Euston The report also waded into the Euston debate, suggesting that the best option would be to lower the entire terminal, rebuild the Euston Arch and redevelop the station into something that could rival St Pancras and King’s Cross. Addressing a meeting in Manchester recently, Higgins discussed the feasibility of the so-called Euston Cross concept which envisages a new subsurface HS2 line constructed with an east-west platform connecting the terminal with St Pancras and King’s Cross. Higgins said that new stations at Crewe and Euston should also be backed up by having a major interchange at Old Oak Common - a project that could be a catalyst for regeneration, doing what Stratford did for East London. Presenting the report, Higgins said: “Phase One of High Speed Two needs to address the capacity challenge. Phase Two must address connectivity and therefore must be integrated with existing and future transport services and also looking to maximise the value added to the local and national economy. HS2 has the potential to transform the

Another central aim of the report was to address questions about how HS2 will benefit the UK as a whole. Higgins said the project needed to work with the Government, Network Rail and local transport authorities to better integrate high-speed rail with the conventional rail network, creating better transport links not just north-south but east-west from Hull to Liverpool and between Manchester and Leeds. Speaking to The Rail Engineer about how this could be done without losing the benefits of the high-speed system, Higgins said: “Well that’s a real challenge and we’ve got to look at how that works. “Much of that is how the big interchanges work, so you have an interchange that connects conventional rail and tram into high speed rather than having everything going onto the high-speed line.” Talking about the need for HS2 overall, he added: “What we have done is give the alternative to upgrading the West Coast if you don’t do High Speed Two. The figures show you never get anywhere near 18 train paths, you have about 20 years of disruption and it will cost £20 billion plus.”

Lower cost In November 2013, Higgins was asked to produce a report that would look at ways to not only deliver HS2 quicker than planned but also cheaper. Currently, the Phase One budget stands at £21.4 billion, with an additional £21.2 billion set aside for Phase Two and a further £3 billion for rolling stock. The report supported the current cost estimates and suggested that it would be “irresponsible” to reduce the contingency that has been built into the budget. However, the former Network Rail chief

executive sent a clear message to the government - the earlier a decision is made, the cheaper it will be. “The simple truth at the heart of this, as any project, is that there is a direct connection between certainty, time and cost,” said Higgins. “The more certainty there is about the timescale, the more possible it is to control cost through economies of scale.” Following the official launch event in Manchester on 17 March, Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin issued a statement backing the recommendations. Comments also flooded in from the industry, with the majority supporting the principles underlining the recommendations. Dr Colin Brown, director of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), said: “HS2 is a vital project for increasing transport capacity and improving connectivity in the North. A properly integrated and efficient transport system is critical to creating a balanced economy and accelerating the construction of the northern section of the project, as Higgins suggests, would mean we could help bridge the North South economic divide more quickly. “Engineering risks are not the cost drivers for the project, confidence and forward planning are key to keeping the costs down and it is down to Government to ensure we get the legislation right to make the HS2 project happen.” Paul Plummer, Network Rail group strategy director, commented: “The step-change in capacity that HS2 enables across the network as a whole will transform the service on existing lines, creating the space we need to meet growing demand and deliver new and better connections. “The timetables that might operate are by no means fixed and we will soon announce a programme of engagement with passengers and stakeholders, both inside and outside the industry, to seek their views on what should be prioritised as we start to plan future services.”


of Safety: Over the past few years there has been a significant push to improve the safety record within the rail industry. This has often meant significant change both in design and process. All areas of the industry felt that this often caused confusion due to the amount of change that happened at one time: • Which policy to implement? • Have I missed anything? • Which part applies to my organisation? Over the coming year, we will see more change as the industry streamlines processes through collaboration in a bid to cut through red tape and ultimately make sense of safety. Making sense of safety is a key challenge in 2014 for the industry, whether that be through learning from other industries, through product and process design or through industry collaboration.


28th April 2014 Royal College of Physicians Regent’s Park, London


Deputy Chief Executive


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Dr Ian Gaskin

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Pino de Rosa

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Roan Willmore

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Seamus Scallon

Safety Director UK Rail



Registration Register for the event, then enjoy a coffee and pastries as you network and meet fellow colleagues.


Welcome from our host, Colin Wheeler.


SESSION 1: SETTING THE SCENE Video: Dead Serious About Safety Ken Burrage, Chairman, IRSE Licening Scheme


What are the problems? Carolyn Griffiths, Chief Inspector, RAIB


2013: The ORR Health and Safety Report Sue Johnston, Deputy Director - Railway Safety, ORR (Office of Rail Regulation)


KEYNOTE Mel Ewell, Chief Executive, Amey


Q&A with Speakers Panel


Coffee Break


SESSION 2: CONTROLLING SAFETY RISKS Managing Passenger behaviour David Statham, Managing Director, First Capital Connect


Mission Room Dr Bryan Denby, Managing Director, Mission Room


Interfaces Steve Featherstone, Programme Director Track, Network Rail


Systems Allan Spence, Director, Safety Strategy, Network Rail


Design for safety Darren Selman, H&S Manager, Assurance, Crossrail


Q&A with Controlling Safety Risks Panel


Lunch A wonderful fork buffet; networking and time to get your blood pressure tested ready for the afternoon session.


SESSION 3: OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH Staff welfare John Abbott, Director of National Programmes, RSSB


Fatigue Stuart Spriggs, HSQE Director, VolkerRail


Q&A with Occupational Health Panel


Coffee Break


SESSION 4: LEARNING LESSONS Learning lessons from the top Pino de Rosa, Managing Director, Bridgeway Consulting Limited


Finding the root cause using Tripod Beta Ken Maddox, Tripod Beta: practitioner, trainer and assessor, EPEX (Engineering Petroleum Extraction Limited)


Q&A with Learning Lessons Panel


Outcomes from the day Panel discussion with some of the members of the Advisory Board


Summary and close Colin Wheeler closes the Summit.


the rail engineer • April 2014

St Pancras - Sheffield Line Speed Improvement Project CHRIS PARKER


any people, including the author, have long argued that the East Midlands has suffered for too long with a second rate main rail line. In fact, that has been the case ever since the demise of the majority of the Great Central line at the time of Dr Beeching. The Great Central was the only British main line built to continental gauge, and was constructed from the outset as a main line railway. Its alignment was designed for what were, for the time, high speeds. There were separate tracks on much of the route to keep freight and stopping traffic out of the way of express trains.

Planning and collaboration

Making the best of it For whatever reason, Beeching decided to destroy most of this route, retaining instead the twisty, tight Midland Railway main line (MML). Why was this the chosen option? It can’t have been about making the railways more efficient and effective. Whatever the reasons, the option to reinstate the Great Central line is now confined to the ‘too difficult’ category. Too much of the alignment has been sold and built upon or ploughed up for any realistic chance of a revival. The East Midlands therefore has to make the best of what it has, at least until the arrival of HS2. That means making the best of the MML. Network Rail and the other stakeholders in the line, particularly East Midlands Trains, have been collaborating to try to make the line rather more of a silk purse than a sow’s ear. A plan was developed as part of Network Rail’s Control Period 4 (CP4) commitment and The Rail Engineer recently visited the East Midlands Control Centre in Derby to meet scheme sponsor Kevin Newman and look at the achievements and challenges of the project. The £70 million scheme is intended to cut eight minutes in either direction from the journey time for Class 222 Meridian sets running between Sheffield and London St Pancras. Five minutes of this target is being delivered through infrastructure works along the route. The remaining three are coming from reductions in the timetabled engineering allowances on the route, which are being made available by other transformational programmes on the part of Network Rail.

The project has used the so called ‘third way’ approach to line speed improvement that was the basis of much of the similar work done on the West Coast main line. This involves detailed examination of the theoretical and actual track geometry on each line to determine the most cost effective practicable increase in speed attainable on each section of line (if any). The ruling speed of the line was already 125 mph, but relatively little track was actually running at this speed before the project commenced. Planning and execution of the works depended heavily upon collaborative efforts between Network Rail, East Midlands Trains and other stakeholders. For example, there would be no point in increasing the permissible speed at any given place to a speed higher than that practically achievable by the trains. Depending on the circumstances, this might be constrained by the accelerative capabilities of the sets, or by their braking characteristics. There would be no point in a line speed that trains couldn’t reach by accelerating away from a regular station stop or permanent speed restriction, nor would it be useful to extend a high speed beyond the point at which trains would always need to start braking for a similar stop or restriction.

Implementation has been made easier by collaboration between Network Rail and the train operators. East Midlands Trains, in particular, has been collaborating closely with Network Rail over the various works around Nottingham, and this involvement and assistance has been equally vital in the MML project.


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the rail engineer • April 2014

The missing section was East Midlands Parkway/Sharnbrook, which was originally due to complete on 7 December 2013. However, it was foreseen that there was going to be an issue with track condition between Kettering and Loughborough. Such were the track conditions over this stretch that it was decided that it would be impossible in practice to drive to the increased line speed in between the required condition-of-track speed restrictions. The decision was therefore made to defer the completion of the affected section until March 2014, to permit the necessary track renewals to be completed. This was a joint decision as Network Rail had flagged up the situation early and discussions with the train operator determined the way forward. Network Rail held a series of roadshows for train drivers and other staff to explain to them why the situation arose, what was being done about it and the timescales involved. By the time that the project is complete, some 80 track miles on the Up line and 79 on the Down will have seen speed increases. Typically, the increase is between 5 and 15 mph. 24 miles of the Up and 32 of the Down will be available for 125 mph. 117 miles of track will have been improved in some way, 20 of these by track renewal. Several key sets of points, including those at Loughborough North, will have been renewed or refurbished. 189 signalling installations will have been affected in some way, including the installation of 17 new banner repeaters and the installation of conditional double red signalling at key junctions south of Bedford. The overhead lines south of Bedford have been adjusted at around 90 structures and some 11 miles of OLE has been slewed. A total of 29 level crossings will have been entirely eliminated, 21 by closing them completely and eight by replacing them with new bridges.

Four phase commissioning The original plan was to substantially complete the whole of the project in time for the last national timetable change on 8 December 2013, commissioning the new works in four phases. The first of these, Derby to Chesterfield, was completed on time on 16 November 2013. Elstree to Sharnbrook was due to complete, and did so a week later, on 23 November. East Midlands Parkway to Derby also finished on time on 30 November 2013.

Due to this delay to the one section of the project’s works, East Midlands Trains’ performance under the PPI measure suffered some days. With lower speeds than planned on the affected route section, it was difficult to recover from other problems on the route. There was also some impact on the train operator’s ‘right time’ performance measure. Despite that, East Midlands Trains continued to work co-operatively with Network Rail, for example by assisting in finding the infrastructure operator the necessary access opportunities for the work. Though they would ideally have liked an instant solution to the situation, they understood that this was not practical, and so they helped expedite matters where they could. Aside from the condition-of-track renewals required between Kettering and Loughborough, there were some S&C renewals (including Flitwick for example) still not complete at the time of the introduction of the new timetable. A number of track realignments could not proceed until completion of planned bridge reconstructions in preparation for the forthcoming electrification of the route. Whilst there were significant timetable improvements, the full benefits of the project were not input into the December 2013 timetable change, but will enable further enhancements in the future. In the interim, it is heartening to see this further evidence of mature, collaborative working between Network Rail and East Midlands Trains on another major project. Recognition must also be given to the other players in the project. Carillion, Network Rail’s major framework contractor, undertook signalling and some track works alongside Network Rail Projects. AMCO was the bridgeworks contractor, while Atkins and Babcock were respectively responsible for the signalling and track designs. Signal testing was by TICS.

A pioneering partnership

The joint venture between Carillion Rail and Powerlines will deliver the National Electrification Programme projects for Midland Mainline and Scotland North East. To ensure we have the skilled people for these important programmes we are training the workforce of the future at a network of state-of-the-art training centres across the UK.


the rail engineer • April 2014

Sand and ballast don’t mix A

lthough ballasted track remains the conventional method of constructing railway lines, the system is susceptible to ballast contamination in desert and wet areas as well as high-wear in heavy use applications. This can lead to high maintenance costs and, sometimes, even track failure. Since the 1950s, ballast-less track systems have evolved for specialized applications such as high-speed rail and tunnels, but at a significant initial cost premium. What is needed is an affordable solution for areas with poor ground conditions for which conventional ballasted track is not suited.

Ballasted or ballast-less? Conventional ballasted track consists of cross-lying timber, steel or concrete sleepers on a ballast bed of crushed quarry stone which in turn lies on a wide earthworks formation. Essentially, it is a bridging system whereby sleepers resident on resilient ballast are bridged by rails that are strong (heavy) enough to accommodate the bending stress required by the train’s axle load specification. Ballasted track is expensive to maintain given that it contaminates easily, requires access to quarries and ballast supply trains and has to be cleaned and renewed using specialised machinery. All of these can present significant challenges to those responsible for railway construction and maintenance in developing countries and in areas of difficult terrain. Different ballast-less track systems are available and being used around the world, mostly in the category of track slab systems. These include systems with discreet rail support, such as a hand-laid reinforced concrete slab with baseplates; RHEDA2000 - where standard sleepers are cast into a continuous slab; Sonneville Low Vibration Track (LVT) and the Japanese reinforced concrete roadbed system (RCRS) that uses precast concrete slabs. Ballast-less track systems with continuous rail support include Paved Concrete Track - PACT and Embedded Rail Structure (ERS) where the rails are embedded in an elastic boot, cast into a continuous concrete slab.

the rail engineer • April 2014


In use today

Longitudinal support The technological debate between continuous vs. bridged support of rails has some of its origins in Brunel’s “Baulk Road” system installed in the 1800s on the Great Western Railway in the UK. In these systems, each rail is supported along its entire length by a baulk or longitudinal sleeper. Gauge is maintained by the use of tie-rods between the two baulks. The T-Track system, privately developed in South Africa since 1989, is a ballast-less track system that competes on an equal footing with conventional ballasted track on initial and major upgrade costs, whilst maintaining the substantial cost advantage of ballast-less track. It is an integrated track system comprising both the track substructure, characterised by narrower layer works (compared to conventional ballasted track) and the track superstructure, characterised by a modular articulated beam-track arrangement.

Track modules The basis of the T-Track system is the track module. This consists of a pair of reinforced concrete beams which are wet-cast into geotextile bags and separated by gauge bars. Stirrups take conventional rail fasteners (Pandrol, Vossloh, Unit Rail) and continuous pads along the length of both beams provide a resilient base for the rail itself. The modules sit directly on a prepared formation that is narrower than that required for ballasted track and are grouted into place. The design and stiffness of the modules and the formation is carefully calculated using finite element analysis to obtain the optimum performance and support for the track modules. There are three basic designs of module. Tubular Modular Track (TMT) is used on straight and curved sections. Modules are precast using the same mould. Modular Tubular Turnouts (MTT) are precast in sections using a double-sided mould to

accommodate left and right-hand turns. Modular Tubular Level Crossings (MTLx) - these are an adaptation of TMT using precast inserts which fill the void between the beams to establish the level crossing. All three types are available for standard gauge (1,435mm) and narrow gauge (1,067mm and 1,000mm) although other designs are perfectly feasible. MTTS are designed for UIC and voestapline VAE designs for 1:9, 1:12: 1:20 secant and tangential turnout sets, and will soon be availiable for the range of Vossloh turnouts.

System design The T-Track structure is designed using a conservative 2D model to an ultimate limit state (including fatigue). This is verified against a 3D model concurrently during formation design. The serviceability limit state is set at soil deformation. 3D tie beam design and analysis is verified by hand calculation. Design considerations include the required axle load and speed, rail size and the underlying soil stiffness. The rail-track with the formation is modelled, with three dimensional (3D) finite element models (FEM), to determine the stresses and deflections (behaviour) of the track structure. The FEMs are solved with a transient dynamic solver, with the linear elastic material properties with damping coefficients for the system with moving load applications. The FEM has been calibrated extensively over a number of years for heavy haul operations by the Transnet Freight Rail Track Test Centre in South Africa, as well as the University of Pretoria using measurements from instruments such as pressure plates/ cells at the interface between formation layers and multi-depth deflectrometers (MDDs), typically at three stations, with three holes per station and six MDDs per hole.

T-Track exhibits a low initial cost and overall lowest total cost of ownership when compared to other track systems. Project cost compares favourably with ballasted track, but has lower maintenance cost, exhibiting a doubling in rail and turnout life and an improvement in weld life. The impact of Tubular Modular Track on project cost is significantly less than slab-track, as it requires a narrower formation as ballasted track. Tubular Modular Track project costs decrease with increasing use over the length of track, as less transitions are required and economies of scale in manufacturing and installation logistics increase. The ballast-less T-Track system represents a major cost breakthrough for use as a generally affordable rail track solution. It has developed a strong multi-disciplinary value proposition to displace conventional ballasted track and slab track systems in many cases. And it is not new, unproven technology. 600km are in use in the mining industry while the first surface track was laid for freight traffic in 1990. Since then there have been many successful applications in South Africa, USA and Canada with some installations conveying in excess of 80 million gross tonnes per annum with axle loads of up to 32 tonnes. Turnouts have been in operation at Ermelo Coal Yard since 2000 without any significant maintenance and have now carried more than 950 million gross tonnes. Ideal in sandy environments, the first T-Track was installed in Saudi Arabia in 2008. Not only does it remain perfectly resilient, it has maintained its original geometry within 2mm tollerance. Today, having endured some 125 billion gross tonne kilometres in extreme conditions over many years, this technology is now fully proven and certified for operations. With its lowest cost of ownership and scalability into large projects this technology could well revolutionise the way rail track, especially on freight lines and in difficult terrain, is constructed in future. Jim.O’


the rail engineer • April 2014

Stuart Marsh


t probably goes without saying that it’s not a good idea for trains to get too close to infrastructure along the railway, let alone to other trains. In days gone by, calculating clearances was a case of wielding a tape measure ... and it didn’t always work. Some might recall an incident when King Class locomotive 6024 ‘King Edward I’ lost its safety valves when they struck Bishops Bridge, Paddington after the track had been lifted. It was a long time ago, but yes, I’m afraid your writer is old enough to remember this. Nowadays, it’s all rather different of course, with regularly-updated laser-scanning and modern surveying techniques being the norm. But how can all that data be managed effectively?

Plethora of data On today’s high performance network with the TOCs pushing for increased capacity by means of larger and faster vehicles, the calculation of clearances between rail vehicles, other rail vehicles and infrastructure has never been more crucial. It sounds simple, but it isn’t, as the kinematic envelope of a moving rail vehicle can be quite different to its static envelope. Balfour Beatty Rail is just releasing a new version of its ClearRoute™ route assessment and clearance calculation software tool which neatly brings together a national infrastructure gauging database and a national vehicle database. Marketed as ClearRoute™2, the new software carries out gauging processes by comparing any permutation of structure gauging, measured infrastructure, static vehicle profiles and dynamic vehicle profiles. The results are then automatically compared with the applicable standards in order to define clearances. This new package provides greater functionality, improved operating speed and a greatly improved and more intuitive user interface.

Vehicle dynamics Databases built into ClearRoute 2 contain profiles and performance data for the majority of rail vehicles that run within the UK. The way in which a rail vehicle behaves when in motion can be complex and this depends not only on the vehicle but also on the track and the interaction between the two.

Vehicle models contain the information required to accurately calculate a vehicle swept envelope at a particular infrastructure location. This includes vehicle geometry, cross sections and predicted movement data tables. Predicting the movements due to suspension flexibility is done using dynamic simulation software for example Vampire® from DeltaRail. Track parameters are also important, including the radius of curvature, the degree of cant and the track ‘fixity’ (the degree of movement in the trackbetween maintenance cycles). Balfour Beatty Rail manages the vehicle library and releases updates on a three-monthly basis.

Infrastructure ClearRoute 2 contains an additional database of infrastructure information which is based on structure measurements and the associated track geometry and track spacing. The data may be gathered by manual means, by portable laser gauging such as LaserSweep™, or by infrastructure recording vehicles including the Network Rail structure gauging train (SGT) which carries Balfour Beatty Rail laser triangulation equipment.

the rail engineer • April 2014

Typically, infrastructure scans are produced at fivemetre intervals along the track, providing distance measurements for bridges, tunnels, platforms and other lineside structures. The scans are correlated with the Engineer’s Line Reference (ELR) as published in the Sectional Appendix. Information on the cant and curvature of the track, both horizontally and vertically, is included and, where there are two or more adjacent tracks, the six-foot datum is also inputted. The national gauging database is managed by a team of people working at the Balfour Beatty Rail offices in Matlock on behalf of Network Rail. It is updated every two months and historical data can be traced back over a ten year period.

Stepping and clearance runs “Please mind the gap.” Everyone has heard that announcement many times relating to the gap between the platform and the train step. To ensure that this clearance gap is appropriate for passengers departing the vehicle, ClearRoute 2 has the ability to produce a stepping distance run that will calculate the stepping distance between the vehicle footstep and the platform edge for all vehicle profiles. The allowable static X, Y and Z distances are defined in the UK railway group standards.

Infrastructure clearances are concerned with the distance between the kinematic vehicle envelope and fixed lineside structures. Tools within ClearRoute 2, utilising the infrastructure and vehicle databases, can be used to analyse and edit blocks of data that are applicable to any rail route and the types of vehicles that will run on it. Vehicle and gauge models held within these databases may be selected individually or as a group for performing an assessment of clearances - a clearance run - as an automated process. This provides an ideal model for understanding new train concepts from a clearance perspective. Active suspension (as on tilting trains) and vehicle articulation have also been successfully modelled. Because the software is used in safety critical applications, worse case scenarios are calculated when assessing vehicle behaviour and an accuracy tolerance is added to the gauging measurements obtained from infrastructure surveys.

Passing Run Similar rules apply when calculating the passing clearances of sets of vehicles on adjacent tracks - known as a passing run. It’s not just the spacing of the tracks relative to the six-

foot datum that’s important, as here again track geometry, cant, vehicle profile, speed and loading are critical - not forgetting vehicle tilt and track fixity. Factors such as the height of the air bag suspension are also considered, including the effect of an air bag failure. Any combination of vehicle types can be tested for passing clearance and infringement of the group standard.

New opportunities The new ClearRoute 2 software can be used to gain an understanding of track improvements and track geometry changes. The ability to perform desk-top studies of route and rolling stock capability within minutes provides a powerful tool that can be used in civil engineering design processes that need to consider clearances. The UK rail network tends to be rather tight on clearances when compared to the railways in other countries. Working within the constraints of the UK infrastructure can be difficult, but an opportunity provided by the new software is the creation of an accurate understanding of true clearance requirements. This allows gauge enhancements to be calculated only where they are truly necessary. The process has been used for instance in the introduction of a fleet of high speed tilting trains on the West Coast main line - a restrictive and curvaceous route. It has also allowed containerised freight to be run on routes where this was not previously possible. On the London Underground system it has been a key element in the acceptance of new, higher capacity rolling stock. By using ClearRoute™ during the early stages of vehicle design, risks associated with route acceptance can be minimised.

Training Balfour Beatty provides training at several levels together with a scheme of operator certification. A one-day gauging course can provide an understanding of gauging, vehicle dynamics and clearances. A further 2½ day course provides competency and certification for the use of ClearRoute 2 in safety critical applications. The first release of ClearRoute 2, with Network Rail engineering acceptance, occurred in mid-February 2014. A Lite version enables clearance analysis relative to group standards. Additional modules can be purchased to create customised versions of the software. Further releases, providing enhanced functionality, are expected in June and December 2014.



the rail engineer • April 2014




orget IEP, NET and HS2. Give ERTMS a miss. These high-gloss ventures might catch the eye but they have no soul, submerged in binary code. What this magazine really needs - apart from a glossary - is a piece on MVL3/40-SFT2/3/7, dripping with history from every mortar joint. We’re talking here about structures; substantial structures, taller than St Paul’s. Thousands of passengers rattle past daily, just feet away, yet they never see them and never will. Intrigued? Grab a torch and slip into something rubber. Ahead of us stands the portal to a sodden labyrinth wherein gangs of men toil. That’s right - dirty work, with proper tools and everything. Theirs is an absorbing tale of… ahem… downpipes and duff brickwork. I’m trying too hard, aren’t I?

the rail engineer • April 2014


Standedge The


Classic misdirection Standedge Tunnel penetrates the Pennines between Diggle in Greater Manchester and Marsden, West Yorkshire. But just describing the place as a tunnel doesn’t really do it justice. This is a truly unique piece of infrastructure comprising four bores, all over three miles long and connected to each other by dozens of adits and passageways. Its history goes back 220 years to the development of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, authorised by Parliament on 4 April 1794 and engineered by Benjamin Outram. Still the country’s longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel, construction was plagued by difficulty, mostly arising from poor working practices and a dearth of funds. Two contractors suffered financial ruin; activity ceased for long periods. Although the surface sections of canal were in use by 1798, it was another 13 years before Lively Lady became the first boat to officially navigate the tunnel. To draw water from the workings and provide a drain for the water engines used to hoist spoil, 14 moorland construction shafts were initially progressed; adits and others shafts were then connected to them. But these

No.7 shaft is spanned by suspension beams from which cables hang for the work platform. Beyond, steam rises from one of the canal tunnel shafts. temporary works proved expensive and something of a distraction. Eight of the shafts were ultimately abandoned and tunnelling thereafter was concentrated largely at the two ends. Leaving much to be desired was the setting out over the hill. Shafts were displaced from their intended position both laterally and longitudinally, in one case by 40 yards. The elevation at the Diggle end was several feet too high, demanding costly remedial works. Nicholas Brown, the company’s surveyor, was dismissed whilst Outram resigned in 1801. Five years later, Thomas Telford formulated a plan to save the floundering project. He found that two approaching sections of tunnel were out of alignment by as much as 26 feet and only when the excavations were finally joined together in 1809 was an accurate length for the tunnel established: 5,477 yards.

(Inset) The full-height connection between the 1849 and 1871 tunnels, known as “the cathedral”.


the rail engineer • April 2014



(Above) The adits were driven in 0.5m advances by a mini-digger and breaker. (Top) Paul Thompson checks the radio comms in No.7 shaft’s completed adit.

The railway cometh With its limited load-carrying capacity and the absence of a towpath through the tunnel, the waterway never successfully competed with the Rochdale Canal a few miles further north. The tunnel did however prove its worth when work began on the Huddersfield & Manchester Railway in 1846, running parallel with it on the south side. Thirteen adits were pushed outwards from the canal tunnel, allowing the single-track bore to be driven from their ends. A fleet of boats ferried spoil out and materials in, an approach which brought construction to a conclusion in a little over two years. The nearby Woodhead Tunnel - fulfilled in part by the same contractor, Thomas Nicholson - had been progressed from five shafts and took more than seven years to complete despite being slightly shorter. As enterprises go, this was a great industrial spectacle. At its peak, 1,953 navvies were involved, mining and lining the tunnel from 36 working faces at a rate reaching 85 yards per week. One account records that “300 yards of the tunnel had to be worked out of a solid stone, extremely hard, being literally without a seam or crack, and is left without either wall or a sustaining arch. The general strata consists of strong posts of millstone grit, and in some places of hard sandstone and beds of shale.”

Nine men did not survive to see the tunnel finished; one had his skull split in two by a rock falling down a shaft from one of the skips. Meanwhile Nicholson and six others had to launch themselves against the sidewall to escape a collision between an engine and the horse-drawn wagon they were travelling in which met head-on in the darkness. Costing £201,608 (about £17.7 million in today’s money), the tunnel was formally opened on 13th July 1849. Trains were accompanied through by a pilot man or pilot engine, their re-emergence being transmitted to the other end by Henry Highton’s patent telegraph system. The portal was designed with two entrances, underlining the intention to construct a second bore. That eventuality came to pass in the spring of 1868 when contractor Thomas Nelson successfully tendered for the job. Again, spoil was removed by boat, hauled by four powerful steam tugs, the canal being linked to the new bore by 21 adits passing under Nicholson’s tunnel. The programme suffered from workforce unrest, with both miners and bricklayers separately striking in protest at payment terms and shift length. No fatalities had been reported by the time of its opening in February 1871, discounting miner David Harper who fell into the canal as he staggered back to his lodgings from the Navigation Inn.

Dark horse With capacity still constrained, the London & North Western Railway embarked on a four-tracking project through Standedge in 1890. This demanded construction of the two-track tunnel used today by TransPennine services. The L&NWR progressed the work itself under chief engineer AA MacGregor, accommodating the 1,800 men involved

the rail engineer • April 2014



L&NWR BORE (1894)









A section through Standedge Tunnel, reproduced from a 1925 LMS illustration.


in the Diggle paper mills and 54 wooden huts assembled at the eastern end. Although navvies were not particularly welcome in Marsden, several hundred locals did gather on 7 May 1892 to enjoy a parade of 40 works horses. The tunnel’s heading - seven feet square - was again driven from 13 adits, this time connected to the 1849 bore. To expedite progress with the excavation, 40 breakups were then opened and around 120 tons of gelignite consumed. The bricks - 25 million of them - were fired locally except for an outer face of Staffordshire brindles. Given the honour of placing the first two were MacGregor’s wife and 10-year-old son who were conveyed on a wagon to the tunnel’s midpoint for the ceremony. Can you imagine the paperwork? With the end in sight, a 26-foot length - mined and propped ready for lining - collapsed in April 1894, blocking the tunnel for a week. Major Yorke, the Government inspector, deemed the tunnel fit for purpose on 1 August. Opening triggered temporary closure of the single-track bores for repair, whilst remedial work continued on the canal tunnel which had suffered considerable damage as a result of the blasting operations. Closure came to the Huddersfield Narrow in 1944, commercial traffic having evaporated, although the Ailsa Craig managed to complete a passage of it four years later. A £30 million restoration brought the canal’s reopening in 2001, much of the money being invested in the tunnel which had collapsed in places. The Nicholson and Nelson bores last saw trains in the late Sixties and today are used for maintenance access. Located at their midpoint is a place to make U-turns - a full-height connection known colloquially as “the cathedral” due to its vaulted roof.

Clear the air The canal and single-track bores benefit from natural ventilation via shafts at Cote, Flint and Pule Hill. Additionally, water sprays were used to create an artificial circulation of air through the adjacent Down Cast and Up Cast shafts at Redbrook whereby a system of doors and gratings - operated by the platelayers - regulated the flow through a subway to where it was needed. Ventilating the operational tunnel are three shafts at Brunn Clough (known as No.2 shaft, 443 feet deep, now capped), Redbrook (No.3 shaft, 495 feet deep, capped) and Flint (No.7 shaft, 515 feet deep, not capped). Being railway owned, these are the focus of the ongoing intervention, their brickwork having deteriorated over many

Andy Westwood (above) and Andy Phillips (top) make progress with the repointing work in No.2 shaft.


the rail engineer • April 2014


(Above) Andy Clarke pulls the curtain back to reveal the deluge in No.7 shaft. (Inset) Helpfully quantifying the volume of water here is a downpipe discharging its contents at the bottom of the shaft.

years through incessant water ingress. Initial activity has focussed on works to capture around 70% of this water, involving the clearing or renewal of ring dams and their associated downpipes (some of which were original, made from timber), the water then being discharged into the canal. Additional weep holes have also been inserted. Once the lining dries out, it can then be cleaned of its mineral deposits and repaired. All this should make life more palatable for those who have to enter in future. “By

“By far the wettest shaft I have ever examined” is a notable quote from Flint’s 2008 detailed exam.”

far the wettest shaft I have ever examined” is a notable quote from Flint’s 2008 detailed exam. Whilst the work is not particularly difficult, it is high volume. About 1,000m² of No.2 shaft’s brickwork needs relining or pressure pointing with a specialist mortar; the figure is 2,600m² for No.3 shaft - effectively the whole thing. The key to all this - and the issue that causes most headaches - is access. When the team arrived on site in September, shafts 3 and 7 opened only into the operational tunnel which is used round-the-clock by Manchester Airport services. Had the project relied on short Saturday night Rules of the Route possessions, the work would have taken years to fulfil given the mobilisation time involved with each incursion. That timescale was untenable in light of the impending North Trans-Pennine Electrification scheme. Removing the shaft caps and descending from the surface would have brought severe restrictions due to the area’s designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Mitigation for the resulting public safety risks would have demanded 24/7 security patrols. But Network Rail and Amco Rail, its principal contractor, collaboratively came up with a solution, digging down to the latter’s mining roots.


the rail engineer • April 2014

With the 1849 bore already used for access, the logical approach was to connect it to shafts 3 and 7 by driving new adits. To establish a starting point, an initial core was drilled outwards from the shaft; thereafter they worked the other way, opening out the ground with a mini digger and breaker, then installing rock bolts, plates and stainless steel mesh to secure the ground before the next 0.5m advance. Progress was slow - a function of the geology - but methodical. Once through, work platforms had to be assembled in each of the shafts to enable the workforce to reach every part of the lining. Clad in glamorous PVC, I emerged into the downpour at the base of shaft 7 to be confronted by…a spaceship apparently, surreally floating a few feet off the ground, having descended from the heavens. Contracted to provide these modular structures is the impeccably named Apollo Cradles. Each is powered by four electric motors, enabling the platform to climb wires attached to suspension beams across the top of the shaft, threaded through cores in the cap and then dropped down to anchors at the bottom. Complicating life further in shafts 2 and 3 are crash decks comprising two layers of bullhead

rail, through which openings have had to be cut so the platforms can be constructed above them. In shaft 3, the rails are at an unhelpful height of 16 metres and have themselves required remedial works in order to make them secure. By necessity, Haki stair towers have been deployed to reach their underside but these have in turn brought difficulty with the winching of platform components.


You’ve ’ad it

Hats off What at first might appear to be a mundane job is actually anything but. If you overlook its scale and spectacular setting, yes, the substantive work is routine. But for every obstacle that’s been surmounted, another looms ahead. Amco has risen to each challenge and continues to make headway, somewhat against the odds. For those labouring in the deluge, modern foul weather gear affords better protection than the navvies who sunk these shafts 120 years ago could ever have dreamt of. The conditions though are probably as close as anyone comes now to those experienced in the Victorian era. And yet these men always have a smile for you or a warming cuppa. I have nothing but admiration…big time.


One of the motors for No.2 shaft’s platform are rigged above the bullhead rail crash deck.

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the rail engineer • April 2014

Safety, Sustainability and Collaboration I

n collaboration with Network Rail, Babcock, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain and Skanska, Amey recently hosted a one-day conference for the industry’s infrastructure projects second-tier suppliers. Around 80 companies were represented at the event which was organised by Amey and held at the Heritage Motor Museum at Gaydon.

James Gorry spoke on the consequences of a lifechanging accident.


The conference is part of the company’s continuing programme of encouraging better supplier engagement. It followed a launch event held last year in Wolverhampton in conjunction with Carillion and builds on the work undertaken over the last couple of years with Tier One suppliers and the formation of the Commercial Directors Forum (CDF).

CP5 is coming Although Network Rail was well represented, the day was primarily an opportunity for the large Tier One suppliers to talk and engage with their suppliers. Delegates were welcomed by Lee Jones, Amey’s director of operations for rail and metro. After its acquisition of Enterprise last year, Amey now has 21,000 employees and an annual turnover of between two and three billion pounds. Rail is a very important element of that, so Lee was pleased to be hosting this day for his and the industry’s suppliers. To get the ball rolling, Stephen Blakey, commercial projects director for Network Rail Infrastructure Projects, looked forward to control period five (CP5) - the financial period which will run from April 2014 to March 2019. He also was the first person to mention all three of the recurring themes of the day - safety, sustainability and collaboration. Stephen stated that Network Rail is committed to the target of eliminating all workforce fatalities by the end of CP5. An improvement in statistics was not what the company wanted, only 0% would be acceptable.

There would be other challenges too, a 24% efficiency increase over CP4 has been demanded by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) and that would only be met by better planning and making fewer mistakes. To do that, Network Rail needs better integration with its suppliers.

The tier one view Commercial directors for the major tier ones then took the stage. Bobby Forbes (Babcock) talked about better collaboration and the benefits from obtaining approval

the rail engineer • April 2014

Tertius Beneke, Network Rail’s expert on sustainability.


to BS11000 - the standard for collaborative working. He also talked a little about PRISM, Network Rail’s supplier performance rating scheme. Carillion’s Paul Paddock outlined the work that the CDF has been doing. He called it “a great opportunity to influence from the inside” and said that it was much better being on the inside trying to influence policies rather than on the outside complaining. Collaboration was part of his presentation too. With one fifth of all alliances statistically going wrong, the work of the Dispute Avoidance and People working groups was very important, but Paul made a plea that tier two companies should also get themselves involved in that process. Balfour Beatty Rail’s Nigel Claxton gave an overview of collaborative contracting over the last year. He also introduced the topic of framework agreements, particularly those with a committed threshold rather than the earlier zero-value type. This gives much better visibility of the workload, and that needs passing through to the tier two supply chain. Adrian Groves of Amey returned to the topic of safety, endorsing the eleven lifesaving rules and showing a video of an impassioned Mel Ewell, the company’s chief executive, answering a question on the subject. Payment terms, and adherence to them, are always a thorny question. Andy Dixon of Costain drew the short straw to lead this discussion. He said that one can’t expect collaboration (that word again) if people aren’t being paid. CDF’s Fair Payment Charter, project bank accounts and target cost contracts all have an impact and these topics were thoroughly explored. A poll amongst the audience revealed that while 96% of tier twos knew of the fair payment charter, only 71% felt they were being paid fairly and 54% declared that they were being paid on time, so there is clearly still work to be done. An analysis project by a group of young practitioners drawn from CDF members, collectively referred to as the TTTs (Tomorrow’s Talent Today), confirmed that with hard facts. More discussion on the opportunities in CP5, and Network Rail’s strategic drive to encourage coordinated engagement across its supply chain, followed. Topics that had been raised at the first tier two conference in Wolverhampton were reviewed, and Stephen Blakey made the interesting comment that these were the same topics as those brought up by the tier ones two years earlier, so all suppliers seem to have the same problems and aspirations.


Change is coming Skanska commercial director Andrew English gets very enthusiastic on the topic of sustainability. This showed in both his presentation and that of Network Rail’s Tertius Beneke. With sustainability issues now accounting for 5% of the score during tender evaluation, and that percentage likely to increase, all suppliers have to take the subject very seriously. A rare visit to the podium by a tier two supplier, Cal Bailey of NG Bailey, built on this as he stressed that all suppliers should work responsibly and sustainably. It will be a difficult journey and, as all customers want something slightly different, it won’t be easy - but it needs to be done. New Network Rail commercial director Martin Arter summed up the events of the day so far, and then discussion returned once again to safety. James Gorry, an Irish contractor who had suffered a life-changing accident, made a personal and moving presentation on the consequences of ending up confined to a wheelchair. Noone should be put in the position that he finds himself and zero major accidents should mean just that. With Network Rail intending to place more than 60% of all its tier one contract orders for CP5 by this summer, and 48% of all Infrastructure Project’s spend ending up with tier two suppliers, there is a lot to play for. There will be more of these tier two conferences, and Stephen Blakey intends that, next time, tier two contractors should do more of the talking.


the rail engineer • April 2014

Higher capacity

heavier lifts


ith the seven day railway now a reality, and access times becoming correspondingly shorter and more difficult to arrange, track maintenance engineers need some specialised equipment in their toolboxes. To repair short lengths of track quickly, obstructionless hydraulic jacks are essential. Either operated directly under the rail if space permits, or using an offset toe if not, these low profile jacks can lift track by about 90mm. Their low overall height means that they will not obstruct passing vehicles. They can also be used with very little ballast preparation, keeping access time down.

Changing demand One of the market leaders in the field is the range of Zwicky™ jacks from Arbil Rail. Marcus Taylor, the company’s commercial sales and service manager, has noticed that it is becoming increasingly common place to encounter requirements for heavier capacity obstructionless track jacks. “With the increased reliability and economy within the rail passenger and freight network, we are beginning to see a change in trends regarding the percentage of our products being used for rail track maintenance network developments and maintenance. Particularly within Europe, we have seen sharp increases in sales, largely in Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Italy and also sales as far afield as Australia.”

To cover this, Arbil Rail is developing several new models. Engineering manager Brian Timmington explained that the popular 8 tonne head / 5 tonne toe model was being uprated to have an 8 tonne toe lift capacity. “The new jacks are being constructed using the same footprint as the existing 805 track jack, making them exactly the same height as their counterparts while still remaining obstructionless. The toe to head height of the new jack is just 140mm. “To maintain the highest safety standards, all of our Zwicky range of jacks come fitted with an overload safety valve set at 105% and are tested to 25% above rated capacity and the 808 will be no exception. The new jack will remain obstructionless for rails of 42kg/m and over.”

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Zwicky increasing capacity..... Zwicky™ Hydraulic Track Jacks have been faithfully serving maintenance teams around the world for over 75 years. Now with new increased capacities, Zwicky™ jacks remain British made and still represent the most complete range of obstructionless jacks available anywhere. To contact the team about trialling the new jack capacities call Arbil Rail on 0845 600 4332.

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the rail engineer • April 2014

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? BARRY DILKS


lot has been written about sustainability from a corporate point of view. However, as a mature individual, and one that has held senior positions for a number of years in a variety of industries, sustainability in the environment is a new concept and one that, at the beginning, I struggled with. Having delivered a number of substantial projects, I am well aware of environmental issues. I have experienced delays and unplanned expenditure protecting wild orchids, great crested newts and slow worms. I have had to engage a would-be Swampy - camped outside a badger set to establish if it was in use. I even built a 120-room doormouse hotel that ran for 30 metres parallel to the railway so we could assess the potential impact on wildlife. Sadly, the facility was closed down when not a single booking materialised after three months. These were all necessary steps in today’s environmental culture as a combined commitment to protect our wild life and the environment. But sustainability …. what on earth is this all about??

Corporate policy I decided to investigate the UK Power Networks Services (UKPN Services) corporate position and, not surprisingly, discovered that we

have processes, procedures and guidelines supporting this initiative. We recognise Responsible Procurement, Protection of the Environment, Waste Management, Pollution Control and Conservation, but it was clear that using the word ‘Sustainability’ meant more than that. So I engaged with the Network Rail Thameslink Programme Environmental team who were in the process of drafting an Environmental and Sustainability Statement with a vision of linking it to a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). I left that initial meeting with a headache and, I will be the first to admit, a concern that I still did not fully understand what was clearly a hot topic. It was time for some new blood and a young mind set which could establish a sensible approach and provide clarity and guidance to the delivery team and, just as importantly, me! We recruited a young environmentalist, Maria Siakovelli, and she was given the task of understanding Network Rail’s

expectations, map those against our corporate undertakings and provide a gap analysis. The good news was that the gap analysis demonstrated that our corporate view and Network Rail’s expectations were in general aligned. Phew, that was a stroke of luck - or was it?

Reporting and monitoring Having established that we (UKPN Services and Network Rail) are aligned in strategy according to Network Rail, the rail industry and government expectations, what do we do next? Like many other companies, we are pretty poor at reporting all the good things that we do and how we do it, collating data and then ascertaining whether we can be more effective through the analysis of such reporting. Working with the Thameslink Programme and Network Rail’s environmental and sustainability team, Maria established a number of KPIs that would be the subject of continuous monitoring and reported as a dashboard with statistics and trends. Being young, with lots of passion and bags of energy, Maria took a view that we could do more with minimal investment but it would require effort and buy-in from the project and construction teams.

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It was Maria’s passion that made me sit up and listen. Not being a natural tree hugger, and having been busy delivering construction projects all my life, I sceptically viewed the concept as a risk to our delivery schedule. I was initially quite vocal regarding the ‘supposed’ benefits. What difference can we make? We do not execute huge civil-type programmes - we are a highly competent electrical contractor, working generally on small footprints, so how on earth could we make a difference?

Leading by example What Maria told me was: “A small contribution can make a huge collective difference.” She sat me down, debated the issue, challenged my views, brought me out of my box and took me for a walk in the potentially greener world. Maria convinced me that we needed to encourage everyone to think sustainability within the environment so they had a better understanding. We had to lead by example and tell everyone what we were doing as a company, why we were doing it and the benefits our contributions could make to the greater scheme. Hmmmm… Knowing that typical construction crews simply want to get the job done to a high degree of quality (in a safe manner of course), I remained a little sceptical. So Maria produced an initial dashboard of what we were already doing as best practice in project management terms. She cited the usual activities such as segregating waste, recycling waste rather than sending it to landfill, utilising temporary electrical connections for welfare units rather than diesel powered generators, managing delivery logistics better, and the like. The initial report provided statistics of actual compared against ‘what if’, and the results were quite staggering. She modelled the results against the overall number of sites we were scheduled to deliver and demonstrated we could make a difference to our environmental impact if we compiled statistics across several projects and the company overall. OK, I was convinced. I still wasn’t exactly what you would call a tree hugger, but I have to say the statistics certainly got my attention.

Challenging Maria But I threw Maria a curve ball and challenged her again by stating that, in everything we do, we must always ensure that expenditure and effort bring short and long term benefits. I asked her to tell me what we could do, what investment was required and how quickly would that benefit be realised. Maria initially concentrated on ‘what can we do today that can bring immediate benefits with little or no financial investment other than time and effort?’ She set out a strategy of educate, plan, encourage feedback from the bottom up, capture data, educate some more, plan again (think outside the norm), report back on what we have done and then educate everyone again on the impact and benefits provided. And so Maria started the education process with the project team and site crews. She stressed the benefits of what we were doing using the data from historical

works and overlaying future work sites. The feedback was refreshing. Everyone thought it was a good thing to do and even provided suggestions to consider some other savings such as - why do we have empty vehicles? What about ECO cabins? Why do we scrap so much? When we start on a new site, we initially level the construction area, remove the waste and then fill with appropriate foundations - say type 1 for construction. We looked at this process for one site, namely Ifield in West Sussex. Typically we would arrange for a tipper with a grab facility that would set off from Godstone empty, pick up the site spoil and return to base. That spoil would then be segregated, the recyclable material sent to Gatwick recycling and the remainder despatched to Smallfield landfill centre. Once the site was ready, the same company would deliver type 1 to site and return to base empty.



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We discussed this internally and decided to establish if we could spill and fill using the same tipper. Although this proved a little challenging to the construction crew as the site was extremely tight with little room to pile the spoil, they agreed that, with some extra logistical site management effort, it would be possible. So we engaged with our supplier and made the following change to our plans. First of all, the spoil was stockpiled on-site until a part of the site was ready to accept type 1. Then we took the spoil directly to the Gatwick recycling centre which has the facility to segregate the type of spoil we delivered (generally 95% recyclable) and stockpile the landfill until they had enough to deliver to the landfill economically (giving cost and environmental benefits). Due to the constraints of Ifield, we had to undertake this activity several times as we were limited on the amount of spoil that could safely be stockpiled at any time. Although this required additional planning and some careful site management, the results were extremely encouraging and should be considered for all sites.

A family of four, living in an average home, will use 18,000 kWh of gas and 4,800kWh of electricity per year.

Reducing carbon We identified the type of tipper the supplier was using (FORS compliant even though the site is outside the M25 boundary) so we could obtain typical vehicle carbon data from the government web site. As part of this process, we discovered that, if we took the registration number of the vehicles used so that we could assign actual carbon data for a licensed vehicle to our spread sheet rather than typical values for the type of vehicle, the difference could be as much as 20%. So taking the typical data and applying this to the vehicle movements, had we continued with our usual procedures we would have left a carbon footprint of 73.4 kg of CO2 emissions for each delivery, totalling 381.01kg for the five trips. With the revised plans, this was reduced to 43.56kg and 231.80kg respectively. That’s a whopping saving of 149.22kg of CO2 emissions - a 39% reduction for this activity alone. To put this into some form of perspective, government statistics show that a family of four (two adults and two children), living in an average home, will use 18,000 kWh of gas and 4,800kWh of electricity per year. This represents 3.65 tonnes of CO2 emissions for gas and 2.53 tonnes for electricity, a combined total of 6.18 tonnes per annum or 16.93kg per day. Therefore, the 149.22 kg CO2 emission saving for one site alone is the equivalent of a family of four living in an average home using gas and electricity for just over ONE WEEK (8.8days). Considering the above, a further analysis was undertaken for another regular activity. The majority of cable used on the Thameslink programme is free-issued - distributed from the Network Rail National Distribution Service centre at Cricklewood and delivered to each one of our sites through a call-off system. We therfore made arrangements for all available cable for the four sites to be constructed during 2013 to be stockpiled at one of our supplier’s compounds at Belvedere in the south of England and for them to undertake local deliveries to each of our sites.

the rail engineer • April 2014

Taking into account the journey to each of the four sites and the number of journeys required to each site from Cricklewood, the total distance amounted to 1,460 miles, or 1,230 kg of CO2 emission. We then calculated the journey from Cricklewood to Belvedere and then to each of the four sites and that amounted to 1118 miles - 841kg of CO2 emissions. This represents a further saving of 389kg of CO2 emissions which, based on the data detailed in the previous paragraph, represents a family of four in an average house using gas and electricity for 22 days. When combining both activities it equates to one complete month. The above examples clearly demonstrate that good practice can and does make a difference, no matter how small we think those benefits are and that such considerations must be considered for all future construction activities. So now, as part of our site surveys and construction kick-off meetings, we consider and discuss issues such as deliveries, site waste, landfill, recycling, welfare

units, construction materials and what type of concrete we use. We plan for local deliveries to reduce our carbon footprint and we have implemented a log so we can trend, manage and report the savings made. We are also taking this knowledge forward on future projects so this data can be considered during the detailed design stages. I am convinced we could make additional savings by challenging the norm and considering sustainability in the environment much earlier on in the project lifecycle. The two simple exercises detailed above represented a combined total of 538kg of CO2 emission savings. This supports the vision that every little helps and companies such as UKPNS can make a huge difference in a collective manner. But I also recognise that, both at a project level and at corporate level, we need to get better at collecting data, reporting the statistics and learning from those findings This will provide even more benefits in the future. So, can you teach an old dog new tricks? Well, I have been convinced

that simple but effective actions, undertaken as best practice, do make a difference. Maria has demonstrated that, no matter how small we may consider individual savings to be, they can and will make a difference. If we all pull together, then collectively we can have a huge impact on a global scale. Barry Dilks is project director at UK Power Networks Services




the rail engineer • April 2014

utney Station is one of the busiest suburban commuter stations in London, with 18 trains per hour passing through it at off-peak times alone. More than 11 million people used the station in 2012-13, making it busier than the stations of several large cities.

The station opened when the Nine Elms to Richmond line came into service on 27 July 1846, and was rebuilt in 1885-6 when the tracks were quadrupled. 130 years later, Spencer Rail began work on an £8 million improvement programme in October 2012. The redevelopment, scheduled for completion by Spring 2014, is being funded under the Department for Transport’s Access for All initiative.

the rail engineer • April 2014

Putney station on track



the rail engineer • April 2014

Challenging access Since the start of the project, Spencer Rail has been working on site to install three new lifts, expand the concourse area, build new ticket gates and install new toilets. Now, as the project nears completion, Spencer Rail has carried out one of the most significant parts of the project. A temporary footbridge with staircases, which was installed to maintain access to all platforms throughout the works, was removed three weeks ahead of schedule. After serving passengers for 55 weeks, the bridge was removed early despite delays at the start of the project due to access problems. Project director Neil Stuart said: “This was without doubt an immense achievement and a crucial milestone on the way to a vastly improved Putney Station. “Construction access to the station was restricted by surrounding residential properties and the volume of passengers using the station is high, which presented our

rail team with a logistical headache. The team therefore installed the bridge manually, without the use of any large machinery. “The Putney project is one of the most logistically challenging Access for All schemes that we have faced but we are now well on course to complete the works in the coming weeks.

“We have worked on a number of Access for All programmes across the country and this is another project we will be able to look back on fondly. However, there are still some works to complete before we leave the site and the team will be working hard to ensure we do not run over our deadline.”

Disassembling the bridge Work began to deconstruct the bridge at 02:00 on Sunday 23 February and was completed in time for the Monday morning rush hour. Alex McDermott, senior project manager at Spencer Rail, said: “It is the end of an era at Putney Station. “As those who know the station will be only too well aware, this was not the location for a set-piece spectacular, where the construction team brings in a huge crane and local residents gaze in wonder as the span is lifted away in a matter of minutes. “Putney Station is surrounded by private property so bringing in large plant is out of the question. The routine, now familiar to this team is hard, manual effort - and lots of it.” The teams, which included more than 70 people, arrived on site ready to start at 02:00 but were delayed due to having no access to the track at that time. However, temporary scaffolding was erected on the first pair of tracks at 06:00 and the first span was down and tracks clear by 08:30, putting work back on schedule. The teams worked through the day to take down the second span and most of the staircases, with passenger walking routes being diverted to the new stairs. Platforms were repaved and new lights were also fitted as part of the work.

New lifts and staircases The primary objective of the works is to provide step-free access from the ticket office and concourse to the platforms at Putney Station for all passengers, in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. A secondary benefit of the scheme will be the increased concourse area, which will alleviate congestion at the gate-line.

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What’s left to do?

As part of the work, a dispersal bridge has been installed which spans all tracks and includes three new lift shafts and staircases. A 16-person lift now goes to each platform - platforms two and three will share the same lift. In addition, there are alterations to communications and passenger information systems and extensive new lighting, and there will be two new public toilets and one for staff. The concourse now has a masonry and glazed façade and all structures are covered by metal profiled sheet roofing. It will be increased in size by removing the existing rear wall (the east face) and extending the floor space by approximately 14

metres to the rear of the building. This will make room for the gate-line to be moved away from the front entrance, thereby improving passenger flow at busy periods. There have been significant alterations at platform level as well. On Platform 1, the old platform canopy was demolished in order to make room for the new staircase. The existing platform building and canopy on Platforms 2 and 3 were partially demolished as part of the works, as were the existing staircase and rooms beneath on Platform 4. The new lift motor room has been located under the new staircase.

With the project team working towards a completion date of 16 May, Spencer Rail is now putting the finishing touches to the station. There is still a lot to do, including the completion of floor and wall finishes (mainly tiling) and the roof cladding. The lifts have to be commissioned, as do the new lighting, toilets and CCTV. The previous customer information screens and PA system has to be reinstated. Structurally, arches between the ticket office and the concourse will be opened up by removing several piers and the temporary access ramp will be removed so that the canopies and platform surfaces can be made good. With the new bridge open and the temporary one removed, life is getting back to normal for travellers from Putney. All the work has been carried out without any additional closures other than those already planned for the whole line so, apart from having to use a temporary footbridge and make a few detours, passengers haven’t been unduly inconvenienced. Step-free access will be fully in place by the middle of May and the team from Spencer Rail will be satisfied with a job well done.


the rail engineer • April 2014

Innovation conference gets bigger and better


ith more than 200 delegates from over 90 organisations and 33 display stands, the Railway Industry Association’s sixth annual Technology and Innovation Conference on 18 and 19 March was a much bigger event than last year.

Introducing the conference RIA’s technical director Francis How reflected on the past twelve months being eventful for rail innovation with the formation of the Transport Systems Catapult. With some justification he felt that RIA had played a significant role in placing innovation at the forefront of the UK rail industry’s agenda.


Red, green, yellow or blue

Intelligent mobility

Delegates soon found that this year’s conference was to be more people-focused. Jonne Ceserani of Power & Grace led a number of highly interactive sessions for everyone to find out whether they had Red, Green, Yellow or Blue personalities. The serious side to this was that successful innovation needs collaboration from all types of people who need to be open to each other’s ideas. For example your writer had always considered that rail capacity was constrained by signalling systems but was persuaded that train braking also needs to be addressed. Speaking to The Rail Engineer, Francis How advised that RIA felt this to be an important part of the programme as the way people act can be a significant barrier to innovation. During this session those present were reminded that it was wrong to consider that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution concerned survival of the fittest. Illustrating the importance of innovation, he actually said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Towards Intelligent Mobility is the aim of the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) as was recently explained in The Rail Engineer (issue 111, January 2014). Its chief executive, Steve Yianni, explained how the TSC is encouraging a collaborative approach to developing integrated transport systems so as to meet the challenges of population growth, congestion and increased energy costs. Most of the TSC’s current projects will use the improvements in digital connectivity that was the subject of a presentation by Mike Short of Telefonica. As an example of the exponential growth in data transmission, Mike advised that the data transmitted in one year’s operation of Telefonica’s 4G network was equivalent to the previous eight years of 3G operation. The big increase in the use of smartphones will result in 80% of the UK population having one by the year end. Such phones are currently used for an average of 128 minutes per day. Those who use such devices are also getting younger, as Mike illustrated by reference to a popular YouTube clip “A magazine is an iPad that does not work” showing a

the rail engineer • April 2014

one year old trying to get a magazine to do the things an iPad does. All these factors have huge implications and opportunities for the rail industry.

Innovation in Franchising Peter Wilkinson, director of rail franchising for the Department for Transport (DfT), believes that rail franchising has been a success. Passenger numbers have doubled since privatisation and 60% more freight is carried. He also felt that few, if any, railways operated so well in such a dense mixed traffic network. Nevertheless, he recognised that rail franchising had to change. For example, a major shift in the DfT’s thinking was that it now recognised that passengers had to come first.

The DfT also now believes that franchising has to foster innovation. As a result, the DfT is making it clear to bidders that quality and innovation is required. This requires new rolling stock as extending the life of the existing stock is not a clever strategy. Peter also felt that the railway was considered to be operating at full capacity only because of self-imposed constraints for which innovation is also required. He announced that the DfT has created a £50 million Innovation in Franchising fund. This will be available over the next three years for projects covering the East Coast, Trans Pennine and Northern franchises. It will fund innovative projects in these franchises that have a difficult business case or which may not deliver a commercial return during the franchise period.

Sharing experience David Johnson of DGauge shared his experience of developing an innovative product: a dynamic pantograph gauging technique that allowed restricted clearance tunnels to be electrified without excessive cost. His presentation considered the seven tripcocks of innovation to be: the innovative source; the business case; where does it fit; how does it relate to standards; what approvals are needed; what risk does it import and quadruple the time. Describing innovation from a rolling stock leasing company’s perspective, Mark Hicks of Angel Trains described the short and long-term tensions between franchise period and operational life of assets. In doing so, he made the distinction between incremental innovation (LED headlamps) and driverless trains and, like many speakers, stressed the need for collaboration.




the rail engineer • April 2014

The pods at Terminal 5 For those using Heathrow, the pods at Terminal 5 offer a glimpse of the future today. Since May 2011, they have carried 950,000 people over two million kilometres of driverless operation at reliability level of over 99%. These pods carry up to four people and are part of a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system that provides on-demand transport with an average 10-15 second waiting time direct to the required destination. Describing the system, David Marron of Ultra Global PRT explained how it could distribute people around busy congested environments at less cost with less disruption. The pods are battery powered and laser guided in a dedicated guideway. A central control manages the driverless system that can have four second headways, enabling it to carry around 2,500 people per hour. David emphasised that, with this capacity, PRT systems are not intended to compete with light rail. Instead they offer ‘last mile connectivity’ at a cost of around 40% of the typical £20 million per mile for light rail infrastructure.

The chairman’s view With his extensive experience at Ford Motors in product development and R&D, it is not surprising that Network Rail’s chairman, Richard Parry-Jones, had some fresh insights to offer the conference. His presentation also echoed previous speakers such as the importance of starting with the customer and that there is “no room for work that is not collaborative”. He felt that Network Rail faced four technical key issues: electrification catch-up; digital asset management; automatic traffic control and the signalling revolution for which it needed to learn lessons from other industries. For example, there are “many factory concepts that belong on the railway.” The industry also needed to imagine a future with free and infinite digital processing and transmission. He could understand why railway engineers were

nervous about the impact of new technology but felt this risk could be controlled with a robust technology introduction process. On the subject of workforce safety, he considered that this had to be improved and that there were safety solutions in the oil, gas and mining industries that Network Rail should adopt.

Looking back, moving forward David Clarke of the FutureRailway team announced that there would soon be one less acronym to contend with. EIT is to be dropped as his Engineering Innovation Team merges into FutureRail, a programme with a virtual team from Network Rail and RSSB which is working with industry to deliver the Rail Technical Strategy. It has direct funding of £125 million in CP5 which, with industrial match funding, gives £250 million. The UK supply chain, which generates business worth £7 billion per annum, only exports 10% compared with 60% and 70% for the automotive and aeronautical sectors. FutureRailway aims to get the supply chain to meet the industry’s demand for innovation and as a result also increase opportunities for export into a global rail market worth £100 billion in 2010 and growing at 2.7% per annum. To date, FutureRail had provided innovation funding of £30 million, matched by an equal sum from industry. This had been used for various competitions attracting a total of 300 entries, 75 days of testing at specialist facilities and demonstrators such as the independently powered EMU. In addition, support had been provided for DfT’s innovation in franchising.

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Currently FutureRail has five live competitions, details of which can be found on its website. David also encouraged delegates to support the Young Railway Professionals’ event Next Generation Rail on 11-13 June.

The conference award As at previous conferences, a key feature was the RIA/ RSSB Innovation Award for which there were four finalists. Brecknell Willis presented their active pantograph proposal which is intended to reduce service disruption, allow high speeds with existing overhead equipment and provide real time monitoring of OLE. FLE structures described its idea for an OLE cantilever arm made from non-conductive material, thus eliminating the need for an insulator. A previous winner, Park Signalling, introduced a proposal for remote condition monitoring (RCM) of signalling equipment not enabled for RCM which is most of that installed on the network. This involved transmitting LED indications on printed circuit boards to a remote technician’s terminal, eliminating the need to visit the location concerned in order to diagnose faults. Reliable Data Systems presented its proposal for a video train positioning system which analysed a video of track in front of the train to determine distance travelled. It can also determine the train’s location which can then be displayed on a track map. Anson Jack of RSSB was glad to note that the delegate’s vote matched the view of the judges which was that this year’s RIA/RSSB Innovation Award, worth £300,000, should go to Brecknell Willis. As a result, the winner expects to produce a prototype of its active pantograph in 24 months’ time. A further prize was the Mystery Shopper award for the best stand. This went to Thales for their display featuring advanced technologies yet to be used in the rail environment. These included precise positioning information which provides the exact location of individuals in hazardous environments. This works through walls and obstructions and its ‘Through-Wall’ radar technology can even detect the gentle breathing of someone sleeping in a room!

Innovate or die As was made clear at this event, innovation is the only way that the railway can meet its 21st century challenges. So it is good to learn of worthwhile initiatives at the annual RIA conference which is now a ‘must attend’ event for anyone with an interest in this field. Through its conferences and unlocking innovation scheme, RIA is fulfilling a vital role to promote rail innovation. Yet there remains much to be done. Informal discussions with suppliers revealed that commercial pressures remain a significant barrier to innovation. However, the oft-used word ‘collaboration’ indicates that this problem is recognised. A number of speakers challenged the premise that the railway was full and felt that those in the industry need to come up with radical solutions to the capacity problem. The conference was certainly an education. Charles Darwin’s comment in his Origin of the Species can be paraphrased as ‘innovate or die’. With the competition now testing road trains of convoyed cars and driverless cars, this is a clear message for the rail industry. For more information, check out:

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he average train commuter travelling to and from work each day will look out on a blur of houses, back gardens, embankments and trees. In fact they will see lots and lots of trees, they form a large part of the 30,000 hectares of lineside vegetation along 20,000 miles of track across Network Rail-owned land alone. Trees on embankments are ever present in the world of railways, and have many positive benefits. They play an important role for the environment and are extremely valuable for wildlife. The importance of lineside vegetation has been recognised by local authorities around the country, where a number of lineside tracts have been designated for their biodiversity value.

green space, are home to a wide diversity of species. Birds nesting in the woodlands include tawny owl and great and lesser spotted woodpeckers. Slow-worms and common lizards are both present and can usually be found under logs beneath the canopy of the trees. Stag beetles, which are characteristic of this part of London, also roam amongst these woods. PHOTO: RICHARD DORRELL

Trees - beneficial overall


A row of poplar trees provides screening.

Variety of species Over 1,000 hectares of lineside land in London have been identified as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) more than 40 such sites in total. On my personal commute home I travel past the Forest Hill to New Cross Gate Railway Cutting SINC. Woodland and scrub of various types cover the majority of the cutting. The woodland has a tree canopy of sycamore and ash, plus an occasional oak. Less frequent trees and shrubs include hazel, blackthorn, sessile oak, yew, and silver birch. It is a pleasure to watch the trees’ characteristics change through the seasons on a journey that also takes in some very urban views such as Millwall football stadium and Canary Wharf. The mix of habitats on the cutting, and its links to other

Along with accommodating habitat for wildlife, trees on embankments provide multiple environmental benefits. They reduce the ‘heat island’ effect, lowering temperatures in built-up urban environments. Wooded areas, such as the Forest Hill to New Cross Gate cutting, improve health and wellbeing for local communities through provision of green space for people to enjoy. They also act as a focal point for community and education projects with regular volunteering activities. Railway embankments may also support rare or veteran species of the trees themselves. For example, further afield, the bank just above the railway at Moulsecoomb (near Brighton) was planted in 1964 as an elm wood known as the Crespin Way Arboretum where a ‘champion’ veteran elm known as Ulmus ‘202’ (a dutch hybrid) exists.

the rail engineer • April 2014



Functional benefits

Having discussed many of the positive attributes of trees on railway embankments, the negative impacts of lineside vegetation should also be considered. Delays and health and safety issues caused by trees are two big problems for train companies and commuters up and down the country. Trees can obscure signals, fall on to the tracks or overhead power lines, and stop workers from getting to safety when trains are passing. Autumn leaves on the tracks are hazardous for trains and can cause damage as well as delays. Particularly problematic trees are those like sycamore, lime, sweet and horse chestnut, with large flat leaves which tend to stick on the lines. Individual larger tree specimens in particular are also a health and safety concern and may also destabilise the earth on embankments.

As well as some of the more obvious environmental benefits described, trees on embankments have practical attributes that perform a function on the working railways. In the winter of 2014 you couldn’t switch on the news without coming across an item about flooding, or a landslide caused by heavy rain. Trees can help reduce the risk of landslide, and therefore delays to the rail network, by stabilising the earth and mitigating soil erosion. Whilst trees are not normally considered as a first choice when thinking about flood defence, they can contribute towards increased run-off infiltration into the ground. Studies by the Woodland Trust have shown that planting tree belts across slopes led to increased infiltration of water into the soil. This is the result of improved soil structure and the effect of tree roots. For many people railways are considered unsightly, noisy and an intrusion on the landscape. Trees can help ameliorate these impacts by screening views and reducing noise and air pollution. For large-scale projects the planting of trees helps screen the visual impacts of schemes. On a more local level, trees help block views of railway lines from thousands of houses around the country. They are integral to the railway for this purpose and many communities feel strongly about the careful management of these ecological and amenity assets. In 2010, hundreds of trees which lined a railway embankment in Barnsley were removed and local residents felt the removal of these features ‘ruined’ the view from their gardens, ‘trebled’ the noise levels, and ‘devalued’ their homes. Both Network Rail and Transport for London (TfL) are well-versed in addressing these problems. They produce and follow a number of standards, policies and manuals, ranging from wider strategies and objectives to measurable actions and checklists for staff. Examples of which include TfL’s Health, Safety and Environmental Policy and Network Rail’s Company Standard for Vegetation. The aim of these standards is to encourage biodiversity and create or maintain ‘green corridors’, whilst ensuring trees do not become a hazard to the safe operation of the railway. It is clear that if trees are well-managed, balancing the requirements of all interest groups on the railway, they can be successfully retained, and new areas planted. Guidelines should be followed with care and with greater communication between relevant stakeholder groups. Where possible, veteran trees should be retained and protected along with local wildlife. Significant consideration should be given to using the ‘right tree in the right place’. For example, planting trees with smaller leaves such as birch, to prevent leaves on the line becoming a problem, or using evergreen trees for year round screening. By considering all these factors the environmental benefits will be maximised and the average day-to-day commuter can continue to enjoy the pleasant views from the train window that trees help to provide. Paul Roebuck is an ecologist with The Ecology Consultancy

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the rail engineer • April 2014



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Closing date for applications: April 25, 2014

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Managing director Mendip Rail Merehead, near Frome, Somerset We are seeking an experienced managing director for Mendip Rail, a joint venture rail freight business operated by Hanson and Aggregate Industries. You will oversee the transportation of over five million tonnes of aggregates a year, manage the locomotive fleet and lead a multi-disciplinary management team to ensure the company’s procurement, finance and business development plans are delivered. With excellent leadership and communication skills and experience in commercial and operational activities within the rail industry, you will manage budgets, volume and cost control across the business, as well as have a leading role in the selection of key partners and suppliers. Working with stakeholders, engineering groups, freight companies and Network Rail, you will also ensure that all activity and operations are in line with company regulations and carried out to the highest health, safety, and environmental standards. These must also comply with the standards set out by Network Rail.

For more information about Hanson, or to apply on line, visit: We are an equal opportunities employer. Please ensure that you are legally able to work in the UK before applying for this role.

Applicants must have relevant industry experience and be educated to degree level within an engineering discipline, or equivalent. Successful applicants will be offered a competitive salary, bonus, health cover and contributory pension. To apply, please send your CV and covering letter to: Becky Murphy, Human Resources, Hanson UK, Hanson House, 14 Castle Hill, Maidenhead SL6 4JJ, or email:


the rail engineer • April 2014


Electrical Engineer Greater Manchester, £Competitive Metrolink operated by RATP Dev, is looking for a committed

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