Rail Engineer - Issue 183 - April 2020

Page 1

by rail engineers for rail engineers

APRIL 2020 – ISSUE 183



Sambit Banerjee, who took over as managing director of Siemens Mobility’s rolling stock and customer services business at the end of last year, talks about his career to date. ZERO CARBON? NOT HERE!


Making bogies from carbon fibre rather than steel will save half a tonne each time. But there are technical challenges to overcome first.

Resignalling the Norwich-Yarmouth-Lowestoft line ready for the new Class 755 bi-mode diesel/electric trains.



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From Top Gear to Thameslink


Maintaining the 385s


Franchises, fatigue management, Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Malcolm Dobell meets new Siemens Mobility rolling stock MD Sambit Banerjee.

David Shirres visits Craigentinny, where Hitachi is maintaining ScotRail’s new Class 385 fleet.



Expansion begins at 40

Totalkare celebrates its 40th anniversary with an expansion into train depot lifting equipment.



Zero carbon? Not here!


Delivering better timetables


Open Train Times


Signalling – faults and interventions


Norwich-Yarmouth-Lowestoft resignalling completed


An analysis of HS2


Train location systems


For those who’ve come across the seas

The University of Birmingham is working on a carbon-fibre bogie design to give improved performance.

Clive Kessell discovers how Network Rail schedules all the extra trains that passengers demand.

Want to know whether trains are running to time? There’s an app for that…

David Bickell reports on the successful conclusion to a major resignalling project.

Have track circuits and even axle counters had their day? What new systems are out there?

MECX has built up a reputation for problem solving. Cable theft? Buried services? Who are you going to call?

A look at the truth behind competing claims for HS2, the pros and cons, Oakervee and Berkeley.

Melbourne Metro is expanding, upgrading and constructing, and needs people to do it…

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020


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A truth half told


hannel 4’s recent documentary “Britain’s train hell” asked why trains are in such a mess and what can be done to fix them. It did a reasonable job of highlighting the dire experience of northern commuters and explaining why they face late overcrowded trains. However, it didn’t provide any realistic short-term solutions nor mention what is being done. This includes recent enhancement projects in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds as well as orders for additional trains, for which over 100 platforms are being extended. Instead, the programme focused on 10 projects that were claimed to be shovel-ready “quick fixes” which would actually take years to deliver. It also proposed that 1,500 operational vehicles, currently in store, should be carrying passengers. There was no mention that these vehicles are surplus due to 7,000+ vehicles that are now entering service. This bizarre omission, in a programme about overcrowded trains, was a deliberate decision. The producers were informed about large numbers of new additional trains, but the programme’s narrative was not concerned with such impending good news. Other than referring to a crazy, secretive rail industry, there was no explanation of why there are so many surplus trains, hence, the point that this “waste of taxpayers’ money” is due to government-led ‘boom and bust’ train procurement was missed. Whilst the documentary was poor on solutions, it did include a fair analysis of why there are overcrowded late trains. It noted the large increase in passenger numbers and how proposals for a better co-ordinated railway in the Williams review had “hit the buffers”. The programme also identified the lack of rail enhancement projects in the Budget, despite government commitments on northern infrastructure investment. It was good to see Huw Merriman, the new chair of the Transport Select Committee (TSC), reinforce this point. One much needed project, and one of the programme’s “quick fixes”, is enhancing capacity through Manchester’s Castlefield corridor, which is one of three areas that Network Rail has declared to be congested

infrastructure. In a recent report, the company concluded that this corridor requires additional infrastructure to run a better-performing timetable. Yet Transport Minister Grant Shapps has advised the TSC that he expects the solution will be better train despatch and control of passengers at Piccadilly station. The long-term solution for commuter lines out of Euston is HS2, which will provide significant additional capacity when phase one opens in 2030. This is not much longer than the “quick fixes” proposed by Channel 4. Yet, as a recent forum demonstrated, HS2 remains a controversial project, perhaps because its benefits have been poorly communicated. Passenger benefits of new trains are highlighted in features about Siemens and Hitachi. Malcolm Dobell describes how Siemens is moving from reactive to condition-based maintenance on the 3,000 UK passenger vehicles it has supplied since 2003. In Glasgow, Hitachi has set up a dedicated office to manage the maintenance of its new class 385 EMUs - the UK’s most reliable new train fleet. Future rolling stock will no doubt benefit from carbon-fibre bogies, which are currently under development. We describe how a full-sized carbon-fibre bogie is currently being tested. As this has potential weight savings of about a tonne per vehicle, it offers significant cost and carbon savings. Improved reliability, operational flexibility and safety is the result of the Wherry lines re-signalling project which was completed in February. David Bickell describes how this has replaced 130-year old mechanical signalling between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and

Lowestoft with computer-based signalling controlled from Colchester. Absolute-block working, which saw 130 years’ service on the Wherry lines, was an early train location system that ensured that signallers knew where trains were. Clive Kessell has been looking at the technologies used to locate trains and considers whether satellite tracking, acoustic sensing and camera images may one day replace track circuits and axle counters. Such location systems need to track 23,500 trains per day travelling over 900,000 track miles with 220,000 station stops. Developing a timetable to run this large number of trains with the minimum of conflict is a complex task, especially, as in the last 18 months, if the number of trains has increased by six per cent. We report on five initiatives to improve timetable compilation, much of which is done manually. If trains run late, it is essential that, wherever they may be, passengers should know what is happening to their train. This is now possible as software houses develop applications for websites and smart phones using the train running data that Network Rail has made freely available. We report on one such application, opentraintimes.com, which provides live train running information, including maps. It seems odd to be writing this editorial whilst trains run empty as the coronavirus brings normal life to a halt, railway engineering may not seem to be an immediate concern at this time, yet, during this crisis, engineering work will continue as trains carry essential freight and personnel. When life returns to normal, railways will have an essential role in helping to rebuild the economy. Until then, we hope our readers DAVID stay safe and well.



Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020





Editor David Shirres david.shirres@railengineer.co.uk

Production Editor Nigel Wordsworth nigel.wordsworth@railengineer.co.uk

Production and design Adam O’Connor adam@rail-media.com Matthew Stokes matt@rail-media.com

Engineering writers bob.wright@railengineer.co.uk clive.kessell@railengineer.co.uk collin.carr@railengineer.co.uk david.bickell@railengineer.co.uk graeme.bickerdike@railengineer.co.uk grahame.taylor@railengineer.co.uk lesley.brown@railengineer.co.uk

Government suspends rail franchise agreements

malcolm.dobell@railengineer.co.uk mark.phillips@railengineer.co.uk paul.darlington@railengineer.co.uk peter.stanton@railengineer.co.uk stuart.marsh@railengineer.co.uk

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Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

As train operators face significant drops in their income due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Government has taken emergency measures to support and sustain necessary rail services. The Department for Transport (DfT) has temporarily suspended the operators’ normal franchise agreements and transferred all revenue and cost risk to the government for a limited period, initially six months. The current operators will continue to run services day-to-day for a predetermined management fee. This move is designed to ensure that trains necessary for key workers and essential travel continue to operate. Other passengers are urged not to travel and the number of services has been reduced. Passengers who have bought Advance tickets may apply for a refund, as may season-ticket holders. The railways have already seen up to a 70 per cent drop in passenger numbers. Rail fares revenue has also reduced as people increasingly work from home and adopt social distancing, with total ticket sales down by two-thirds from the equivalent date in 2019. The Government said that it has taken this step to minimise disruption to the rail sector, vital to the wider UK economy, through these difficult times. It feels that allowing operators to enter insolvency would cause significantly more disruption to passengers and higher costs to the taxpayer. The management fee will allow operators to act in the national interest in tackling Covid-19. Fees will be set at a maximum of two per cent of the cost base of the franchise before the Covid-19 pandemic began, intended to incentivise operators to meet reliability, punctuality and other targets. The maximum fee attainable will be far less than recent profits earned by train operators. In the event that an operator does not wish to accept an Emergency Measures Agreement, the Government’s Operator of Last Resort stands ready to step in. The direct contractual relationship that the DfT has with rail operators, which includes operational and financial requirements and incentives that the DfT control, are clearly incompatible with the Covid-19 situation or conducive to the flexibility that the Government will need in coming months. These agreements will freeze all existing responsibilities and liabilities during this period, and the situation will be reviewed in six months’ time - or sooner, if required. Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said: “People deserve certainty that the services they need will run or that their job is not at risk in these unprecedented times. These offers will give operators the confidence and certainty so they can play their part in the national interest.”


Firm prosecuted after two men died In a landmark case, railway regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has prosecuted a firm for the deaths of two railway workers due to fatigue. Zac Payne (20) and his colleague Michael Morris (48) died on 19 June 2013 when a company van, driven by Zac, left the motorway at 5.30am and collided with a parked vehicle. At the time, Zac had been ‘at work’, mainly driving, for 25 hours. Nottingham Crown Court was told that Zac had originally left Doncaster at 4.30am the previous day to undertake work at Alnmouth, Northumberland - a three-hour drive away. When that work didn’t materialise, he waited until midday and then drove another three hours back to Doncaster. On arrival, his employer, Renown Consultants, offered him an overnight welding job in Stevenage. So he left Doncaster again jut after 7pm for the two and a half hour drive to Stevenage. He worked from midnight until just after 3.30am, whence the two men left site for the return journey to Doncaster. They were killed two hours later. The ORR told the court that Mr Payne, who like his colleague was employed on a zero-hours contract, was suffering the effects of fatigue and may have fallen asleep at the wheel or experienced ‘microsleeps,’ which hugely increased the risk of a traffic accident. It was also pointed out that the company’s insurance policy at the time prevented anyone under 25 from driving company vehicles. Apparently, this was ‘routinely flouted’ and Zac was driving at the age of just 20. Ian Prosser, Chief Inspector of Railways, said: “The rail industry

relies on a huge workforce of skilled manual staff, often working at night and on shifts. Fatigue is a real and known risk which reduces alertness and affects performance. Today’s tragic case shows the fatal consequences that can occur when fatigue policies are disregarded.” The company was found guilty of failing to discharge its duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The sentence will be announced at a later date.


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Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




The virus that stopped the world COVID-19 - commonly known as the coronavirus - has changed everything, not least the railway. As whole hosts of people around the country self-isolate and work from home, the number of commuters and other travellers has fallen sharply.

Add to that the need for railway staff to look after themselves too, and the railway companies would struggle to run a full service, even if there were passengers to fill them. It’s a fluid situation, with every day bringing news of another closure or cutback. There is no way that this report can contain comprehensive information on every nuance, but it will do its best.

Network Rail As the industry’s largest employer (around 42,000), Network Rail finds itself in something of a quandary. It has a well-deserved reputation as an understanding employer, yet it needs to keep the railways open so that even the operators’ reduced level of services can run. There have recently been a number of service interruptions caused by infrastructure failures, including weather-related landslips and overhead lines being brought down, and these still need to be repaired as quickly as possible to keep the network running. In addition, a major programme of maintenance and renewals has been planned for the Easter holiday. Blockades and line closures have been booked, supplies procured, machinery hired and labour contracted. To back out of the programme now will have major consequences. On the other hand, the work is predominantly outdoors, steps can be taken to keep workers separated and to make sure they don’t all use common areas at the same time. So should they go ahead? Some of the work is of the type that, once started, can’t be stopped. If an old bridge is demolished, then the new one has to go in or the railway will be broken. So even if the workforce goes down with the virus, the job has to be finished. At the time of writing, Network Rail hasn’t made a final decision. Whatever it decides, someone won’t be happy. Many people may

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

not want to work and would prefer to selfquarantine. Others, particularly those on zero hours contracts who don’t get paid unless they work, will want to get out there, even if there is a risk. It’s hardly surprising that a decision has not yet been announced.

Retailers One area in which Network Rail has acted swiftly is to support the retailers in its stations and the businesses that lease properties such as railway arches. Rent payments due from tenants in the commercial estate portfolio in the first quarter (25 March - 23 June 2020) have been cancelled, providing significant relief for small businesses who are worried about the impact of the virus on their footfall. Retailers in Network Rail’s managed stations have likewise had their base rent payments for the first quarter of the new

financial year (April-June 2020) cancelled. Retailers in stations typically pay a minimum guaranteed (base rent), and a turnover rent based on sales, and this cancellation of the base rent for an entire quarter will help retailers during this tough time. Network Rail has around 100 retailers in its managed stations (20 of Britain’s biggest and busiest such as Waterloo, King’s Cross, Leeds, Bristol Temple Meads, Birmingham New Street, Edinburgh Waverley) and around 1,000 small and medium business tenants.

Train operators The rail operators have agreed with government a reduction in service levels to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus. However, they will continue to run core services, ensuring people remain able to get to work, can travel to access medical


appointments and the flow of goods continues across the UK. This move reflects the decrease in passenger demand as people stop all unnecessary travel and decrease nonessential social contact in line with government advice to help stop the spread of the virus. Running reduced services will also help protect the welfare of frontline railway staff essential for day-to-day operations. There will be a gradual move towards introducing reduced service levels on wide parts of the network over the longer term. To minimise disruption, services will be reduced progressively across the network over a number of days. The operators’ plan will also ensure key freight services can continue to move around the country, allowing vital goods to continue to be shipped where needed.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which operates Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express, is one of the companies that has announced that it will move to a revised train timetable as the rail industry works together to manage and protect services for key workers. Steve White, GTR’s chief operating officer, said: “This is an unprecedented situation for everyone and we - together with the rest of the rail industry - are doing our utmost

to keep an essential service running for key workers who are doing such vital jobs. “The message from the Government is clear - travel only if you have to. The changes we are making should allow us to sustain a timetable for those who absolutely have to travel, such as doctors, nurses and the emergency services. We want to thank them and our own staff who are working so hard to keep trains running.” Rail Delivery Group director Robert Nisbet added: “This is not a decision we take lightly. However, implementing these measures now will mean that we can continue to operate trains over a prolonged period with fewer railway workers, who, like so many others, are to be commended for putting the needs of the country first, and whose safety remains front of mind.”

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




Schools Although the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, it has asked schools to remain open for those children who absolutely need to attend - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the coronavirus response and cannot be safely cared for at home. Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care and those with safeguarding and welfare needs. Parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors, including food production, security and transport. Workers who will keep rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass, will still be allowed to send their children to school while they work. While the children of transport workers will still be able to attend school, they may receive more childcare than education as the schools will also be operating on a reduced number of staff.

London Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) have urged all other customers to follow the Government’s advice and not make anything but essential journeys. Services will be cut back, but steps are being taken to make sure that the people who are keeping the country running can still get to work and home again afterwards. Around 40 London Underground (LU) stations that do not interchange with other lines will be closed until further notice. There will be no service on the Waterloo & City line and, on Friday and Saturday nights, there will be no all-night ‘Night Tube’ service or the all-night ‘Night Overground’ service that currently runs on the East London line.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

Available staff will be redeployed to ensure the resilience of the regular Tube and Overground services. Late services on the Tube and Overground will continue to run, with trains running late into the night on all days for essential travel only. However, TfL will gradually reduce the frequency of other services across the TfL network to provide a service for critical workers to get to where they need to ensuring that remaining services are not overcrowded. TfL is aiming to run Tube trains every four minutes in Zone 1, with the possibility that this will reduce further. Similarly, London Overground, TfL Rail, the DLR and London Trams will be running fewer services. TfL has also warned that, although these are the services it plans to run, if fewer staff are available then further measures may be needed.

Closed borders The web page of Eurail, which sells international travel passes, was a stark reminder of how the COVID-19 epidemic is affecting international rail travel: » Austria: no international trains to Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic » Belgium: limited transport options, no trains to France » Bulgaria: no international trains to Serbia, Greece, Romania and Turkey » Croatia: no international trains » Czech Republic: no international trains » Denmark: limited international traffic » Estonia: reduced timetable » Finland: reduced schedule for domestic trains » France: lockdown » Germany: only limited trains to the Netherlands » Great Britain: revised timetable Eurostar » Greece: some domestic trains cancelled » Hungary: no international trains to Slovakia, Croatia, Switzerland, Czech

» » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » » »

Republic and Poland Ireland: normal rail traffic Italy: lockdown Latvia: no international trains Lithuania: no international trains to Poland and Latvia Luxembourg: reduced domestic train travel, no international trains Montenegro: no international and domestic trains Netherlands: restricted train travel North Macedonia: restricted timetable Norway: limited domestic trains, no international traffic Poland: no international trains Portugal: no international trains Romania: no international trains to Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria Serbia: no international trains Slovakia: no international trains Slovenia: international and domestic rail traffic halted Spain: lockdown Sweden: restricted domestic and international travel Switzerland: no international trains, domestic trains on restricted schedule Turkey: no international trains

Goalposts The situation is fluid, and government advice and guidelines change every day. By the time you read this, no doubt the situation will be different from when it was written (20 March). Events are being cancelled - partly because organisers don’t want to encourage people to gather and partly because no-one would turn up even if they did. The comment has been made that, with transport cut back, factories and offices closed, food and other supplies in short supply, this crisis is the nearest that the current generation will come to the way their grandparents had to cope with the last war. All Rail Engineer can do is urge its readers to be careful, plan ahead and stay safe. See you on the other side!

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ambit Banerjee took over as managing director of Siemens Mobility’s rolling stock and customer services business on 1 November 2019. Just a couple of months seventh-floor later, Rail Engineer met him in his seventh-fl oor office, fine offi ce, which has a fi ne view of Euston Station, to find fi nd out more about his career to date, his current challenges and his ambitions for the business. qualified Many years ago, a young Sambit Banerjee qualifi ed as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse in India and, following his exams, joined Siemens India at Kolkata in 1992, working in the low/medium voltage switchgear division. This was followed by stints in the office regional sales offi ce in Kolkata before a move to Munich finance for 15 months as a trainee in corporate fi nance and treasury in 1996. On his return to India, Sambit worked as head of corporate accounts for Siemens India at Mumbai. In 2001, he left Siemens and joined The Times of finance India group as vice president of fi nance and he then financial officer became chief fi nancial offi cer of a joint venture between The Times of India and BBC Publications that saw BBC magazines such as Top Gear and Good Food launched in India. “Allowing foreign media into India was very challenging at the time,” he recalled. In 2005, Sambit re-joined Siemens, once again at the company’s Munich headquarters working in corporate finance fi nance and treasury. In 2006, he moved to the UK, becoming responsible for the IT business for North West Europe and, after that, into the logistics and airports business, where he was responsible for the Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 baggage system, Gatwick Airport modernisation and parcels systems for the Royal Mail. His move into rail came in 2013, when he joined the finance rolling stock and customer services business as fi nance director, followed by promotion to his current role of managing director in 2019.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

Management role Sambit is very clear that a major part of his day-today role as managing director is to ensure the health influenced and safety of everyone infl uenced by his company - employees, customers and passengers. He is clearly also passionate about quality and, while stressing the importance of availability, he emphasised the importance of “not pushing out a train if in doubt”. “Trains that don’t break down and look good are key to passenger perception,” he stated, “and, as Siemens Mobility is a key partner of train operators, we accept our share of the responsibility for performance.” He naturally also has an eye to the future. Sambit was delighted that HS2 has received the go-ahead, along with indications of the same for Northern Powerhouse Rail. Whilst he could not talk about rolling stock for HS2, as the tendering process is underway, he could discuss the many products and services that Siemens Mobility can provide to the project, including signalling, electrification, electrifi cation, electrical distribution, power generation and intelligent buildings. So far as the conventional network goes, he is hoping the output of the Williams review will lead to a clear steer on franchising, with enough clarity to allow suppliers to plan ahead.


However, Siemens Mobility’s immediate challenge in the UK is to deliver trains for London Underground’s Piccadilly line - the first trains to be made by Siemens for the tube since the original City and South London Locomotives in 1891! Sambit stressed the importance of delivering these trains on time and working ‘straight out of the box’. Some of these trains will be made in the UK, a first for Siemens in recent times. Sambit paid tribute to his colleagues Finbarr Dowling, who is leading the Goole factory development, and Dave Hooper, who is leading the Piccadilly line project, and also to TfL’s engineers for their work on the design which has led to the first milestone – initial concept design – being achieved on time.

UK manufacture Siemens Mobility has ambitious plans for the factory at Goole. The desire to build trains in the UK came from presentations made to the Siemens board in around 2013, building on the success of winning the Thameslink order. Today, this has developed until the aim is now to do a lot more than simply bolt together large subassemblies that have been manufactured elsewhere. As a result, Siemens Mobility is planning to transfer technology to the UK and many UK-based colleagues will move to Vienna to work on early trains before bringing the lessons they learned back to Goole. In response to the challenge that it’s easy to learn skills and processes but much harder to build a culture, Sambit pointed to the very successful transfer of technology and culture from Germany to the Siemens Mobility plant in Poole on the south coast. Creating the right culture is key to success for a localisation project, he said. The plans for Goole extend beyond the train factory – Sambit called it “not just a production facility but a technology park”. He talked about the plan to manufacture traction drives in Goole, to build a supplier park adjacent to the factory and, in partnership with the local authority and the University

of Birmingham, a research and development facility that can help bring research work to market and as a means to recruit local talent. Sambit was particularly proud to recruit the first twelve apprentices for the Goole plant, commenting that these will be life changing opportunities for the apprentices and their families. The twelve will spend their first year in UK depots and then work in Vienna for a year. This is just the start and Siemens Mobility will be working closely with schools and other bodies in the area around Goole to highlight the opportunities. Depending on potential order intake, which includes various UK projects, Sambit anticipates that up to 700 jobs would be created at the peak of production in Goole, with up to another 1,500 jobs in the supply chain. Siemens already has a significant presence in Lincoln, less than 50 miles away. It designs and manufactures industrial gas turbines at its Ruston Works, and a new bogie overhaul facility, set up in 2018 and employing around 40 people, is already overhauling bogies for the Eurostar high-speed trains and will continue with overhauls for Class 700 and Class 350 trains, a significant pipeline of nearly 3,000 bogies.

Dealing with engineering It was interesting to explore how Sambit, with a finance background, deals with engineering issues. He clearly relishes that challenge, explaining that, from his earliest time in the switchgear team in India, he was working closely with the engineers - to understand what they did so that they could work better with each other. He added that the Siemens values system, which includes mutual respect for each other’s skills, really helps; something your writer has experienced first-hand in working with Siemens over many years. The values of an organisation and the respect for each other’s skills and experience comes to the fore in the high-pressure task of assembling a tender for a

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




rolling-stock project and, in this context, Sambit spoke of the projects of which he is most proud. First was winning the TfL Deep Tube contract, which is the third-largest in Siemens’ history. Such a bid requires all parts of the company, in several countries, to work together to produce a tender that complies with the specification, is at a price the customer can afford and will be profitable! The second was working on the baggage handling system at Heathrow Terminal 2, the Queen’s Terminal. Previously, there had been serious problems with another supplier’s system at Terminal 5, which attracted

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

significant adverse publicity for both Heathrow Airport and its then parent BAA. Siemens was particularly keen for there to be no repeat of this. Sambit said that he was aware that the media was looking for even a hint of trouble, but he was relieved that the installation caused no service-affecting problems when the terminal opened.

Forward thinking Looking to the future, Sambit said that it is important to keep the cost of maintenance of existing rolling stock competitive, so as to encourage train operators to keep these fleets in service and not to replace them with new trains. Siemens Mobility has to innovate continuously, moving from reactive or time/distance-based maintenance to condition-based. “The assets need to become digital assets in order to keep costs down and, if Siemens Mobility can’t do it, as masters of innovation, who can?” he queried. New rolling stock is more of a challenge. He said that rolling stock prices are currently at rock bottom, asking: “How can anyone make money? If suppliers are too aggressive in their tenders, supplies might not meet customer aspirations.” There is also the question of the challenge coming from Chinese rolling stock manufacturers. Sambit was clear that European suppliers must meet the Chinese challenge with quality and innovation.


Another area that will need innovation is the de-carbonisation challenge. Siemens Mobility’s global CEO has set a goal of the company being carbon neutral by 2030, and Sambit confirmed that Siemens had already stopped making diesel passenger vehicles. However, he accepted that diesel locomotives were likely to be required on unelectrified freight lines for the foreseeable future. As for passenger trains to be used on non-electrified lines, Sambit revealed that Siemens Mobility is “working on the next generation of battery-electric bimode and hydrogen-electric bi-mode, with potential use on trans-Pennine and in rural Scotland”. He expects to showcase some of these developments at InnoTrans in Berlin this September and hopes that some of these initiatives will find their way to the UK market in the next couple of years.

UK FLEET Siemens Mobility has supplied over 3,000 vehicles to the UK that, with the exception of the small CAF/Siemens Class 332/333 fleets, have all been supplied since 2003. The overwhelming

Manchester and York, a bogie overhaul facility in Lincoln and a production facility under development at Goole, Humberside. There are just four basic designs with several variations: Desiro

majority of these trains are also maintained by Siemens with

DMU, Desiro EMU, Desiro City and High-Speed. The fleet

depots in Southampton, Three Bridges, Hornsey, Northampton,

designations and sizes are as follows:







Desiro DMU





25kV AC Desiro EMU *





25kV AC Desiro EMU





25kV AC Desiro EMU





Multi-voltage High-Speed o

16 17 272


25kV AC Desiro EMU





25kV AC Desiro EMU





750V DC Desiro EMU ^





750V DC Desiro EMU ^





750V DC/25kV AC Desiro City





750V DC/25kV AC Desiro City





750V DC Desiro City ^





25kV AC Desiro City




Total vehicles 3,185

* - First 30 units had dual 750V DC/25kV AC capability

^ - With capability of conversion to 25kV AC


- Eurostar E320 - 15kV & 25kV AC, 1500V & 3000V DC

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




Maintaining THE 385S DAVID SHIRRES


n December, ScotRail accepted into service the last of the 70 Class 385 EMUs that Abellio had ordered from Hitachi in a £475 million contract. This was signed in April 2015, just

before the company took over the ScotRail franchise.

Two 4-car class 385 units on a Glasgow to Edinburgh service.

The completion of this order, together with the introduction of HSTs on Scottish intercity routes, brings the number of passenger coaches operated by ScotRail to 1,016, an increase of 28 per cent since the start of the Abellio franchise. These extra vehicles have enabled ScotRail to use the diesel multiple units (DMUs) they replace to strengthen services and to withdraw its Class 314 EMU fleet that was built in the late 1970s. ScotRail’s Class 385 fleet comprises 46 three-car and 24 four-car units. These operate services between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Falkirk High, Cumbernauld and Shotts as well as the Dunblane/Alloa, North Berwick/ Dunbar, Lanark and Cathcart circles services. The manufacture of the Class 385s and their introduction into service is described in issues 157 (November 2017) and 162 (April 2018).

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

Under the contract, the first train was to be operational in Autumn 2017, with all trains on the main Edinburgh to Glasgow line via Falkirk High operated by Class 385s from December 2017. However, for various reasons, including a much-publicised windscreen problem, the first unit did not enter service until July 2018. Since then the number of diagrams worked by the units were: November 2018 - 10; December 2018 - 32; May 2019 - 58 and after the December 2019 timetable change - 62. This new timetable also saw the widespread use of eight-coach trains on the Edinburgh to Glasgow main line, which was made possible by platform extensions at Glasgow Queen Street station. The eight-coach Class 385 trains have 546 seats. This is 45 per cent more seats than the six-coach Class 170 DMUs that operated this service before the line was electrified. At the time of writing, ScotRail’s Class 385 fleet has accumulated 8.5 million miles running. The fleet ran 727,000 miles in just one four-week period before Christmas.


The contract between Hitachi and Abellio also included a 10-year contract for the maintenance of these units. This is managed at Hitachi’s central planning contract office in Glasgow and undertaken at the company’s Craigentinny train maintenance centre, which also does maintenance work on LNER’s Azuma fleet. Whilst it is not unusual for new train contracts to include maintenance agreements, this is the first time that ScotRail has relied on another company to maintain its trains. Furthermore, as is the case with all new trains, the Class 385s have numerous sensors and are software controlled. For these reasons Rail Engineer was glad of the opportunity to visit both Hitachi’s Glasgow office and its Craigentinny depot to see how the class 385 units are maintained. Host for these visits was Tim Olton, Hitachi’s general manager for Scotland, who advised that the company established itself in Scotland in April 2016 and now has 300 people supporting its Scottish train operations, of which around 40 are based in Glasgow and across Scotland’s central belt. Tim explained that the central planning contract office was essential to maintain close contact with ScotRail’s head office for there to be effective collaboration in the delivery of the train service agreement.

Hitachi Glasgow Our tour started at the Glasgow office. Here we meet Stephen Williams, who is responsible for control room and outstations, and Craig Morrison, the fleet performance and planning manager responsible for the central planning cell. Reporting to Stephen are six maintenance controllers and 25 riding inspectors.

The maintenance controllers are co-located with ScotRail’s maintenance control in the West of Scotland signalling centre at Springburn, close to Glasgow city centre. They can speak directly to the train crews, resolving any issues as quickly as possible in order to limit delays to the service. The 25 riding inspectors check the trains in service and undertake repairs around the clock at ScotRail’s berthing locations. Craig has a team of six fleet planners who plan maintenance examinations, fleet checks and modifications at Craigentinny depot and ScotRail’s berthing locations. He also has two contract performance technicians who manage delay attribution and fleet performance, including the management of in-service defects and the monitoring of repeat defects. The work of the Glasgow office is supported by two key systems - SOROS and HFMT. SOROS is a web-based fleet maintenance planning tool, designed to optimise control and coordination of operations, maintenance and safety management activities, developed by Danburykline. The Hitachi Fleet Monitoring Tool (HFMT) uses condition and fault information data transmitted from the train management system (TMS). This is an autonomous, decentralised, integrated system that has a 100-Mbit/s ethernet backbone and controls traction, braking, passenger information and air conditioning, as well as providing functions such as selective

Hitachi’s Glasgow central planning contract office.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




Class 385 and HST at Craigentinny.

TransPennine Nova 1 unit at Craigentinny.

door opening and driver advisory systems. It is designed to reduce the amount of wiring, consolidate on board equipment and provide extensive fault detection and automatic testing. The information obtained from the HFMT is used to proactively manage performance of the fleet by providing real-time information on system health and notification of train faults. It also provides remote fault finding and defect analysis. As an example, this ensures that units with incipient faults are not unnecessarily removed from service. This is possible as HFMT provides information about such things as gearbox oil levels and water tank levels. It also sends an alert in certain situations such as an emergency brake application and the activation of a pantograph automatic dropping device. Relevant information from HFMT is also passed on to Network Rail. This includes adhesion hot spots, as indication from frequent wheel slide protection activation, and OLE over-voltage. Weekly meetings are held with drivers and train crew to provide them with advice and information about technical incidents. Tim advised that the rapport that has developed between the technical riding technicians and train crew has proved particularly useful by, for example, reducing the number of coupling/uncoupling incidents.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

Hitachi took over the operation of Craigentinny depot from LNER in November 2018. At the time, the depot had its full fleet of LNER’s 15 diesel HSTs to maintain and also serviced the company’s IC225 trainsets as well as the occasional Hitachi-built Azuma, which had not yet entered service. The depot also had contracts to maintain Voyager units for CrossCountry trains, Class 73 locomotives for Caledonian Sleeper and Class 350 EMUs for TransPennine Express. It had also started to maintain Class 385 units, of which about 30 were in service at this time. The variety of work undertaken by the depot is explained in issue 139 (May 2016). At the time of my visit, the depot was about to lose its last HSTs. Two sets had been rebranded, ready to be sent to East Midlands Railway, and two power cars had been repainted in British Rail colours ready for their last LNER passenger service, a four-day “Let’s go around again” farewell special. With almost half LNER’s Azuma fleet operational, the depot also had an increasing number of Class 800/801s to service. Another change was that it was also about to lose its TransPennine Class 350 units, although the depot was just starting to maintain the new Nova 1 units which are Hitachi-built Class 802s. These units operate a new TransPennine service on the East Coast main line from Edinburgh and Newcastle. Tim advised that one result of all these changes was that, other than some Class 73 maintenance, the depot no longer maintains HST power cars and locomotives. As a result, much of the depot repair shop space where this work was done is now not required. This provided an opportunity to establish a new technical training facility for the Hitachi-built Class 385, 800, 801 and 802 units, which share many common components.

ROLLING STOCK & DEPOTS Class 385 maintenance Class 385 engineering manager, Alasdair MacPherson, advised that the depot has 270 skilled maintenance engineers and fitters who are all qualified to work on every fleet. He considers that the Class 385s are a great step forward from the Voyagers and Class 350s even though the new ScotRail units require a different approach - the first step when fault finding is to plug in a laptop. The training required an integration overview with modules for every system including the TMS, doors and toilets. For a technician with no railway experience, around six months training is required. Alasdair advised that Class 385 maintenance is undertaken by a balanced examination system which ensures the amount of work in each examination is about the same. This requires an examination to be undertaken every 20,000 miles or 40 days, whichever comes first. These exams are denoted XN where N is the exam sequence number. The last examination is X36. Given the amount of information available from the TMS, we discussed the feasibility of introducing a condition-based monitoring maintenance regime rather than the conventional fixed examinations. Tim commented that Hitachi is open to this idea and that TMS data is being used to review maintenance intervals. However, for now, the emphasis is on using tried and tested techniques to ensure reliability. Alasdair makes the point that train component maintenance periodicities will always be a compromise, as the work has to be done when the train is in a depot. Furthermore, any changes to the maintenance regime must be approved in accordance with the ROGS regulations (Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems (Safety) Regulations 2006, updated 2011 and 2013). At the Millerhill servicing depot, there is a condition monitoring station supplied by MRX Technologies which is due to be commissioned in January. When this is operational, it will enable the Glasgow project office to further refine its maintenance plans with information the monitoring station provides on the wear of pantograph carbons, brake and disc pads as well as wheel profiles.

Improving reliability The bathtub curve shows the reliability of a fleet throughout its life and identifies three stages of failure: infant, constant and wear out. During the Class 385’s infant failure stage, there

had been initial problems with the units involving the TMS, brakes, door setup and speed control unit, all of which have been largely resolved, mainly through software fixes. TMS updates can be done within a couple of hours at most. These do not require units to come to Craigentinny as technicians can do this at stabling points. However, the speed control unit had to be returned to the manufacturer for its software update. Alasdair explained that maintenance challenges include evening out the maintenance workload as the fleet is introduced and understanding the intricacies of the IFE electric door system. Another problem is the different mileages accumulated by the three-car and four-car fleets. This is because the four-car units are primarily used on the main Edinburgh to Glasgow expresses where, each hour, they shuttle between the two cities. Prior to December, this service was a seven-car consist (a three and a four car-unit). However, as many of the threecar unit diagrams are also on lower-mileage stopping services, the three-car fleet has a lower mileage. At the time of my visit, the respective average mileage of the three and four car units was 306 and 572 miles per day. This mileage disparity increased with the December timetable, which saw the Edinburgh to Glasgow service primarily formed of two fourcar Class 385 units coupled together to form an eight-car train. During my visit, there were six units out of service: two were having X6 and X13 examinations, three needed tyre-turning and one was at Edinburgh Waverley with a TMS fault. In period 10, the Class 385 fleet achieved a record 89,438 miles per technical incident (MTIN) compared with 60,160 in the previous period. As Alasdair pointed out, “the top end of the bathtub curve has now bottomed out�.

385 007 undergoes an X13 examination at Craigentinny. The roof access platform was built to enable Class 385s to be maintained at the depot.

MRX monitoring station at Millerhill depot.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




E xpansion BEGINS AT


fortieth birthday is always something to celebrate. It’s a milestone, whether it’s for a person, a company or a product. In this case, it’s a product. The company, Walter Somers Material Handling, was formed in 1953, but it wasn’t until 1980 that the firm, by then known as SomersHandling, introduced its first mobile column lift – the model RG with a lifting capacity of 4,000 to 6,500kg. That same company, now named Totalkare to reflect its dedication to aftermarket service as well as its highquality product portfolio, is still supplying mobile column lifts to the commercial vehicle market as well as now supplying railway depots. To celebrate the birthday of its lifting-jack business, Totalkare is giving itself a birthday present, by investing £750,000 into the business and pressing the button on a five-year expansion plan that will see it target more business in the rail sector.

Planning ahead “It is the right time to lay the foundations for our next four decades,” explained David Hall, who joined Totalkare just 18 months ago, leading a

management buy-out of the Halesowen-based firm. In that short space of time, the likeable Midlander has overseen a 25 per cent increase in sales and the introduction of new testing solutions into the product portfolio for the first time ever. “The business will always be based on the founding principles of customer care and being experts in our field and we wanted to build on this philosophy by putting a marker in the sand for the next stage of our development. “We have already started the process of implementing a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) system that will give us lots of internal and external efficiency improvements and this will pave the way for our

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

relocation to a new purpose built-site in the Midlands. There is also investment being channelled into enhanced service management software to further improve our service capabilities.” The lifting and testing specialist, who has been involved in the sector for more than 25 years, continued: “In total, this is a significant spend for us and we are in the final stages of negotiations on a great location that is

40 close to our current home in Halesowen. “It’s a necessary move to give us the ability to optimise the workflow on the shop floor and increase our capacity to hold stock of mobile column lifts, railway lifting jacks and new testing products.”

Excellent reputation The company is respected throughout the UK for being an industry-leader in the supply, service and

ROLLING STOCK & DEPOTS maintenance of two and four post lifts, mobile column lifts and forklifter ramp systems. Many of its clients have benefitted from its lifting solutions for 40 years, a customer base that covers some of the biggest names in the bus and coach, commercial vehicle and heavy haulage sectors. Last year, Totalkare signed a deal with Italy-based manufacturer Emanuel to supply a range of railway lifting jacks with capacities up to 50,000kg that also conform to Machine Directive 2006/42/CE and European standard EN1493. Easily customised, they can be used to lift any rolling stock - from wagons and carriages through to complete trains - providing a safe, flexible and comfortable position for operatives to carry out maintenance, repairs and servicing. David explained: “We have been working with Emanuel

for five years, supplying its heavy-duty four-post lifts into the bus and coach and commercial-vehicle sectors. “Following a number of conversations, we saw the opportunity to take its manufacturing expertise into the rail sector, where they have similar requirements to provide a safe and fast means of keeping rolling stock operational.” David, who is joined by Mike Lord, James Radford and Peter Geobey in the new-look leadership team, continued: “There’s a reason our customers have been with us for many years and that stems from the quality of the product and this flows through the aftercare experience. “We really do care, a mentality that you would normally find in a family-run business. This makes a real difference and we have built on this culture by investing in new technology and by strengthening our service

David Hall. offer with additional engineers now operating all over the country, ably supported by product specialists. The plan is to continue our recruitment drive to grow this team by an additional 20 per cent over the next 12 months.

“It’s a full lifecycle from purchasing the Totalkare product and regular servicing to preventative maintenance, planned refurbishment and swift repairs to ensure we minimise workshop downtime.”


With 40 years’ experience in heavy duty lifting solutions, Totalkare combines world class products with industry leading support to facilitate effective maintenance and repair, keeping you on track for success.


Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020



ROLLING STOCK & DEPOTS Global connections Hitachi Rail, a fully integrated, global provider of rail solutions across rolling stock, signalling services and turnkey solutions, is the latest company to benefit from the Totalkare experience. Its assembly plant at Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham, employs 700 people and has recently introduced eight new 15,000kg railway lifting jacks that will give it flexibility for future projects. Initially, the jacks will be used to lift metro-style carriages during the manufacturing process. “We’ve manufactured these lifting jacks in line with Hitachi Rail’s bespoke requirements, with specific attention paid towards the size of the outriggers, height of the anvil and the lifting capacity of each product,” explained area sales manager Adam Bowser.

“This install will be supported through our comprehensive Afterkare service package, which includes two visits per year.” Wayne Abbott, manufacturing engineer for Hitachi Rail, commented: “We have an existing relationship with Totalkare’s European manufacturing partner Emanuel, having previously used their lifting jacks in Italy. “Totalkare was the only supplier who could tailor a solution specifically to our requirement and we’re keen to make the most of the additional flexibility it will provide at our Newton Aycliffe facility.”

Moving forward With numerous birthday celebrations planned for 2020, it’s only right to give David Hall the final word on what the year has in store for Totalkare.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

“Like I said before, it’s about laying foundations for the next five years, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t set ourselves ambitious targets. 25 per cent growth is expected again over the next twelve months. “Personally, I’m really keen to push our online training platform more and increase adoption of technology that can make our workshops

safer and help to minimise the number of accidents. “R&D continues at pace and we are already planning the introduction of another new range of products and increasing the capabilities of our existing ones. We’ve got to stay ahead of the competition - great products with excellent service, that’s the Totalkare way.”


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Zero Carbon? NOT HERE!


uring the IMechE’s Railway Challenge in 2019, the judges were hugely impressed with the composite bogie and springs demonstrated on the Poznan University of Technology’s 10¼-inch locomotive. They were so impressed that they awarded a special certificate for this innovation (Issue 177). Roll on eight months and your writer was attending the 16th annual Vehicle/ Track System Interface Committee seminar where Professor Gerard Fernando from the University of Birmingham presented his team’s work on a carbon-fibre bogie. Prof Fernando is Professor of Polymer Engineering and head of the sensors and composites group in the University’s School of Metallurgy and Materials. His collaborators included Dr Tom Sun and Mr Tao Ma. This was no miniature bogie, but a full size one based on the design of the Alstom bogie used on the class 180

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

CARBON-FIBRE BOGIE FRAME Centre Pivot / Traction Centre Air-sprint Mount

Secondary Lateral Bump Stop Transom

Side Frame Radial Arm / Swing Arm Bush Bracket

Primary vertical damper bracket (including lift-stop and hard-stop)

diesel-mechanical multiple unit. The aim of the project is to demonstrate a prototype that can withstand the rigours of 125mph operation with a life similar to a steel bogie and with much less mass. It is an RSSB-funded collaborative project involving ELG Carbon Fibre, Magma Structures, Alstom and the

AntiRoll Bar Bracket

Primary Vertical Damper

University of Birmingham. The ‘HAROLD’ full size test rig at the University of Huddersfield (issue 145) will be employed for testing. The bogie frame - a typical H section - was designed and manufactured by Magma Structures in collaboration with the RSSB and other members of the


consortium. It was constructed out of new and recycled carbon fibres in a fire-retardant epoxy resin (supplied and developed by Gurit). The robotic build techniques used will also help to reduce mass manufacturing costs. The design was constrained by the geometry of the existing class 180 bogie and, in order to manage the attachment and reuse of identical existing equipment, the primary brackets were fabricated in steel to interface exactly with the Alstom-supplied existing major components (radial arms, damper brackets, primary and secondary spring systems). The composite used in the construction has been tested to the requirements of the Euronorm for rolling stock fire safety, EN45545-2, at Hazard

level 2 although, in fact, achieved a higher level 3. The former is the usual requirement for mainline operation. A major achievement is that the mass of the frame as built is 350kg, compared to the steel equivalent of 936kg. By the time the metal fittings were installed and paint applied, the mass had increased to 940kg compared with the steel equivalent of 1468kg, a reduction of over half a tonne per bogie. Gerard explained that the use of the metal components simplified the interfacing with the existing bogie

equipment and the carbody, but a bogie designed with carbon fibre construction in mind would be even lighter and would use much less steel.

Optical fibres, sensors and sensing. Quite unexpectedly in a vehicle-track interface seminar, Gerard turned to the science of using optical fibres as strain and temperature gauges; these being the sensors used for testing the carbon fibre bogie, in addition to conventional surface-mounted electrical-resistance strain gauges.



• • • • •


mechan.co.uk info@mechan.co.uk +44 (0)114 257 0563

Davy Industrial Park Prince of Wales Road Sheffield S9 4EX

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




He explained how an optical fibre 125 micrometres in diameter (250 micrometres with a coating) can be used for this purpose. In very simple terms, a fibre is modified to create Fibre Bragg Gratings (FBG) in the fibre, effectively creating a number of semi-reflective mirrors over short but equal intervals – itself a highly technical process. When light is shone through a Fibre Bragg Grating, part of the signal is reflected, a small amount of the signal at

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

each semi-reflective mirror (see below). The original reflected wavelengths (without the influence of strain) from each Bragg grating are compared with the reflected wavelengths when the structure is loaded. If the Fibre Bragg Grating is subject to strain, the spacing between the semi-reflective mirrors is either slightly increased (tension) or reduced (compression). This change, combined with the effective refractive index and the period of the FBG, results in a shift in the reflected central Bragg wavelength.

The size of the wavelength change indicates the magnitude of the strain. However, the same effect occurs with change of temperature and temperature effect is over 10 times the strain effect, so a method is required to correct for temperature. Gerard described the methods used to compensate for temperature where the Bragg grating is located close to the endface of a cleaved optical fibre. The fibre with the grating is housed in a capillary tube where one end is fused to the optical fibre, well away from the grating, and the opposite end is sealed (see right). Thus, the Bragg grating is primarily only responsive to temperature. It is not just a matter of sticking a few strain gauges to the bogie and connecting them to the instrumentation either. The right optical fibre has to be selected; in this case bend-insensitive fibres from FiberCore UK. These are optical fibres where the diameter of the core consists of 9.5 micrometre fibres with 4.5 mm long Fibre Bragg Gratings. In addition, the Fibre Bragg Gratings have to be properly bonded to the bogie so as to behave as a homogeneous part of the structure. Gerard described the requirements for that bonding system, including efficient strain transfer, being able to accommodate localised variations in the surface topology of the composite, retaining the spatial orientation of the Fibre Bragg Gratings, being able to massproduce autoclaved sensor patches and


Further steps

vacuum-bag bonding of the patches to the composite bogie. Several different bonding techniques and bonding agents were tried before the final choice.

The next stage is to carry out static and dynamic testing, including work on the University of Huddersfield’s HAROLD dynamic wheel-rail interface test rig. In parallel, the project team will be working with RSSB and others on appropriate standards that can be used to assess and authorise the bogie for on-track operation. Looking to the future, the original consortium, along with the NCC, are seeking further funding to build another two bogies that can be track tested on the rail to provide more real-life data and endorsement of the lightweight bogie,

including its use of composite recycled material, in the construction of rolling stock. Following this, given a clean design sheet, the consortium is confident that it can contribute to advancing a new-generation bogie which should demonstrate big cost and carbon savings by reducing rolling mass, incorporating more compliance in the structure (to substantially reduce track access charges) and using recycled materials. With grateful thanks to Professor Gerard Fernando for his assistance in preparing this article.

Extend maintenance intervals with SKF Insight Rail For train operators, the main challenge is to keep trains running without costly interruptions. With SKF Insight Rail, a wireless and self-powered monitoring solution for passenger rail train bogies, you can now anticipate problems and extend maintenance intervals with confidence. Install on existing rolling stock in 2 minutes Measure close to the source for reliable results Notifications in your service organization’s dashboard or in the SKF app Find out more at skf.com/skfinsightrail

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Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020






he need to create more capacity on the UK rail network has been reported many times. Clever signalling systems to allow closer headways, longer trains with longer platforms, even more infrastructure - these are all part of this objective and, slowly but surely, things are beginning to happen.

However, increasing capacity is one thing, developing a timetable to fit in all the extra trains with a minimum of conflict is something else, all too easy to overlook. The London & SE section of the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE) had a recent talk on Delivering Better Timetables, given by Kris Alexander, the programmes and support services director of capacity planning within Network Rail. It proved to be fascinating.

Some basic statistics The relationship between timetabling, signalling and command & control is crucial. Network Rail provides paths for 23,500 trains per day, carrying 4.8 million passengers over 900,000 track miles,

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

passing more than 1.5 million signals (hopefully at green) with 220,000 station stops. The plan is for all trains to arrive exactly on time - to the minute. Travel patterns are also changing. For the December 2015 timetable change, some 10,000 changes were requested. For May 2019, that number grew to 45,000. The number of trains per weekday has increased by 6.4 per cent in the last 18 months, excluding freight, empty stock movements and non-franchised operators. At weekends, Saturdays has seen an eight per cent increase and Sundays 12 per cent in the same period. The current timetable performance is around 94 per cent of trains arriving within a minute of right time, but that general statistic can hide some services which are

much worse than this. Incidents are critical as they represent the biggest risk for achieving right time arrivals. The timetable is not just about passenger train services - it also has to encompass freight and non-franchised operations. A ‘good timetable’ might be judged by the following factors: » Most trains arriving right time; » Regular timetabled or clock-face departures; » Easy recovery from any disruption; » Providing services that impact on economic growth; » Maximising the assets, primarily crew and rolling stock. Many of these mean different things to different people.





Timetable compilation and constraints It takes a long time to assemble a timetable and the process involves consultation with a multitude of interested parties. The current system works to the following schedule: » Commence consultation on TPRs (Train Planning Rules) and EAS (Engineering Access Statements) - 64 weeks out; » Issue Notice of Change - 55 weeks out; » TPRs and EASs published - 44 weeks out; » Train Operator bids scheduled - 40 weeks out; » Network Rail offers LTP (Long Term Plan) to Train Operators - 26 weeks out; » Train Operators make bid for a STP (Short Term Plan) - 18 weeks out; » Network Rail offers a STP - 14 weeks out; » Information sent to Traveller Publications

- 12 weeks out; » Timetable implemented - week 0. If all this looks complicated and time consuming, you are right. It can be adversarial and, at best, is inefficient. Much of the compilation work is still carried out manually.

Challenges in the immediate future Five areas of improvements have been identified to ease the amount of human effort involved and to create a more robust end product. Challenge 1 is to automate the production of the timetable and to take account of line speeds, signalling diagrams, stock diagrams, TRUST (train reporting using system TOPS) and TPRs, all of which exist as separate data systems

but without effective linkage. A typical example would be validating the data for a junction. Challenge 2 is to unify the Train Planning Rules and associated values. Currently, there is no agreed methodology for calculating the rules and it takes, as an example, 15 documents to timetable a train from Southampton to Trafford Park. Included within this work will be the inclusion of timing allowances for minimum headways plus measures to minimise the propagation of delays when they occur to other services. Challenge 3 is to improve timetable performance modelling. This is a data-hungry process which requires considerable manual intervention, with much of the data being uncontrolled

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020



and inaccessible. Timetable modelling is not well aligned with other industry planning processes and is not properly understood by the client - the train companies. It does not have a complete suite of tools and the industry has let go much of the skill set that existed 10 years ago. Building-back expertise will be part of the challenge. Challenge 4 relates to Digital Railway technologies, where a project is underway to define a new set of timetable requirements. These will include: i) timings to have an accuracy down to one second, ii) increasing the number of timing points across the railway, iii) ensuring that timetable planning rules are commensurate with the introduction of ETCS, iv) having a common infrastructure model across the industry, and v) creating a zero-defect timetable. Challenge 5 relates to improving timetable planning data to enable improved analysis and optioneering. The current Sectional Appendix is unstructured and is not digitised, with the result that elements may be wrong. Signal Control tables have to be manually transferred into the timetabling process in the production of Station Simplifiers

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

issued to station staff. Elements such as signalling plans, track layout variations and electrification work all impact on timetable production but few engineers recognise this fact and, even if they do, how to input the element of change is not properly understood.

Improvement programme There is general recognition that a significant advancement in timetable production is urgently needed and £100 million has been allocated for this work to be taken forward. Much of it will take time, with some work building on past projects that have already yielded benefits but which can be improved further. The main thrusts will be: » To produce a Timetable Technical Strategy. Already in development, involving a complex drawing together

of all factors (around 50) into a single integrated data system, this is a major task and may take ten years to complete. » To produce a method for determining the effect of engineering work. Known as an Access Planning Programme, this will be vital to improve the knowledge and impact of engineering work and associated timetable disruption. Cost is estimated to be £13.5 million. » To continue the work of producing an Integrated Train Planning System (iTPS). Initially introduced in 2010, it has proved very valuable in automating conflict-detection situations and has produced machine-generated planning values. £16 million is allocated to introduce upgraded versions and to enhance the capability. An example will be assessing the impact of long trains stopping at short platforms.

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» As indicated earlier, to produce a Timetable Performance Modelling Programme to improve understanding of the impact of proposed changes and include a machine reading capability that will be capable of alignment with train schedule, crew and stock modelling inputs. Cost is estimated at £18.7 million. » To create a Timetable Data Improvement Programme costed at £8 million. The aim is the extraction of more value from the data so that this can be shared with stakeholders, both within the rail industry and externally to the travel trade market and social media.

Other interfaces Since this talk was delivered to a signal engineering audience, it was perhaps inevitable that a plea was made for the engineering data to be modified from its present unstructured forms into a single consumable format. People do not realise that such data can impact on timetable performance but, when timings become critical to the second, knowing everything about the signalling can be very relevant. The timetablers need to know about speed limits, gradients, tunnel bores, curvature, signal overlaps, signal control panel operation, even interlocking types, all of which should have a common data format that can be easily accessed.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

Also critical are Traffic Management Systems (TMS) and Automatic Route Setting (ARS). TMS should, ideally, be provided with a perfect timetable, but this is still a long way off. When first considered back in 2014, it was thought that purchasing proven systems, already in use on other railways where advantages were being realised in optimising real time train pathing decisions if disruption were to occur, would produce a quick win. That concept has proved illusory and it has been difficult to implement the trial systems at Cardiff and Romford.

Resonate's Luminate product, in use on the GW main line, has proven to be the most beneficial so far, but it has taken a lot of work to get to the present position. On the Thameslink central core, the Hitachi TMS system is uploaded with timetable data each day, so that it can constantly review train movements against the planned operation. When late running is detected, the system calculates a revised train path that will keep disruption to a minimum and offers it to the signallers. However, for this to be fully effective, the timetable data for almost


the entire Thameslink area has to be entered, so that constant monitoring of real time running can be achieved. As can be imagined, the amount of data involved is huge and the successful transfer is itself a challenge. Similarly, whilst ARS has been available in its basic form since the 1980s, the decision-making data has only been used in a localised area without the bigger picture of events being considered. Clearly, if more accurate timetabling and train running is to be achieved, ARS and timetable data will need to be fully integrated.

advantage of the Class 800 fleet introduction. In both cases, experienced operators were already in place and were not under any particular financial pressures. Recent government announcements about possible re-opening of lines closed under Beeching have included the Ashington to Blyth line in Northumberland, which will use a section of the East Coast main line north of Newcastle, where paths are already at a premium. As a general observation, Andrew Haines felt that the scarcity value of the last remaining path on any route may need to be reflected in the price paid. Equally, if more trains are to be operated over a route, it could mean enforced changes to the stopping patterns and run times of existing train services. This is already happening to some routes on former Southern Region lines. Some services are now actually timetabled to take longer than they did in times past, in recognition that getting through various pinch-points on the route cannot be guaranteed without having additional recovery time. One piece of advice is that, when new trains and/or infrastructure are introduced, the service should be bedded in on the existing timetable before attempting to change the service pattern with a new timetable. Trying to do it all at once will court disaster. So, an eye-opening subject where the relationship between engineers and timetablers is becoming ever more critical. One can only hope that the industry as a whole will be up for the challenge.

View from the top By chance, a recent press briefing by Andrew Haines (chief executive of Network Rail) also touched on timetabling challenges. Under the franchise system, train operators are virtually compelled to run more trains with better performance and at lower cost. This presents many difficulties of running a service when things go wrong. The May 2018 timetable was a classic example, with both Northern and Thameslink introducing huge timetable changes which could not be delivered. People have blamed the timetable for the ensuing chaos, but it was more the unpreparedness of the train companies to operate the resultant train service that caused the problems. A shortage of rolling stock, as well as a lack of train crew and the rate at which they could be trained, were major factors. Thameslink recovered quite well and, within two months, had a revised and workable timetable in place. It has since been upgraded again and now offers a brilliant cross-London service that has contributed to many new journey opportunities. For Northern, the misery has continued, with the result that the franchise has now been terminated and effectively nationalised and put under government control. Some experienced operators saw these emerging problems and Network Rail was asked to delay the timetable’s introduction but this was not possible with only 10 weeks left before implementation. Lessons have been learned and it is now likely that big timetable changes will need to be planned over a longer period, possibly up to two years out. Examples of when things have gone better were the 2008 West Coast main line change and the recent introduction of the new Great Western timetable to take

Structural Precast for Railways

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020








roducing a robust timetable and equipping it with systems that can minimise the effects of any disruption (see accompanying article) is one thing, but conveying all this real time information to the general public is something else.

When disruption occurs, it is a common complaint that ‘nobody knows what’s going on’ or ‘staff on the station don’t tell us anything’. This can be fair criticism and many readers will have experienced just these situations. Even when things are going well, information such as up-todate details of train times, platforms, train formation and suchlike can be a bit minimal at other than the busiest of stations. Yet all the information is there, even if the associated decision making is not always as sharp as people would like. Can this information be conveyed to the public in a form that is understandable? A trial some years ago at Peterborough involved the provision of a display screen in the concourse showing the train describer movements as being shown to the signaller in Peterborough Power Box. Cynics said that people would not understand what the diagram was conveying nor the head codes or the stepping functions. They were wrong and regular rail users soon learned to interpret the train movements and how these would relate to their intended journey. Maybe the travelling public are not as stupid as some people think! Could the idea be extended further to make train movement data available as a national provision service that would be accessible from any smart phone or tablet device?

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

One man who thought so is Peter Hicks, who is the driving force behind Open Train Times (OTT). Peter is a former IP Network engineer and now a Railway Systems consultant and software developer. He is also a rail commuter, so has first-hand experience of knowing what is needed.

Accessing the data Since Network Rail compiles the timetable and owns all the signalling systems that deliver train movement information, getting its cooperation was clearly vital. The first step, however, was knowing what to ask for. Train schedules are created in TPS (Train Planning System) for the current and next timetable period. This is exported in the rail-specific CIF format, the origins of

which date back to a mainframe system called TSDB (Train Service Data Base) developed by British Rail. A full timetable is around 600Mbytes of data and contains the timetable for 12 months. Shortterm changes and variations to existing schedules are loaded incrementally with updates published each night. Nonetheless, Network Rail was asked if this CIF data could be made available with real-time data feeds for an open data project. The immediate answer was “nobody has ever asked for this before”, but a policy decision was eventually made to allow access. So far so good. However, the next question was “can real time data be obtained and can we use this data for distribution purposes so that everyone can take advantage?” This was more difficult and it ended up being discussed at the Department for Transport’s Transparency Board. Eventually, the government decided that it was in the public interest and the data should be made available for general


information. The concept of OTT was thus borne, with the project starting out as ‘TSDB Explorer’ which was the first iteration of the site.

The data needed In order to provide a credible real time train running information service, a number of data feeds are needed. These consist of: » TPS (Train Planning System) to give timetable data; » TRUST (Train Reporting using system TOPS) to give real time running data from designated reporting points; » TD (Train Describer) which delivers train running information derived from signal and berth data within signalling centres; » VSTP (Very-Short-Term Planning) which has in day and next day alterations to the timetable. From these, live track diagrams can be derived using other material such as the TPS network model and route learning material from TOCs. These diagrams can also be built using scheme plans, block schematics of the track and signalling layouts, but they remain drawn by hand. As well as high-level information about signal aspects, the Train Describer (TD) feed contains plenty of low-level information, including train movements and routes set between signals. These are based on signalling ‘berths’, which usually, but not always, represent individual signals. Train movements are represented by the train description passing from one berth to an adjacent one. Train describer information is usually aggregated into TRUST for automatic train reporting, but there are still many low-density or rural lines that retain absolute block working often, with semaphore signals and non-continuous track circuiting. Open Train Times cannot generally provide information for these areas, which currently amount to about 20 per cent of the total, although this is always decreasing as signalling systems are modernised or replaced.

The TD data is delivered as a stream of updates, so not only is this a constant delivery, there is no ‘current snapshot’ available, which means systems have to build and persist their own berth data locally. The data messages come as two classes. Firstly, there is C Class, equating to berth messages: » A step instruction to move a description from berth A to berth B; » Cancel - where a description is removed from the system; » Interpose - to cater for new descriptions being inserted when, for example, a train splits or joins. Most C Class messages are triggered by the train’s occupation or clearance of track circuit or axle counter sections. Secondly, there are S Class messages, which give updates of anything the train describer is set up to provide, such as: » Routes set and/or signal aspects; » Point status conditions, normal or reverse; » Track circuit or axle counter sections; » TRTS (Train Ready to Start) plungers as used by platform staff; » Level Crossing operational status.

Signalling functions are defined in Group Standard RT/E/C/11205 and any of these may be an output from the train describer. Signal aspect status has only two states – most restrictive (red) and not most restrictive (yellow, double yellow and green), equating to 0 or 1. Routes have one data bit per route letter and class and track sections can be either occupied or not occupied. All of this information is constantly updated and output. There are also ‘latch’ messages that relate to an on/off status. TRTS plungers come into this category, where they are held ‘on’ until the route is set by the signaller. They can also be used for emergencies, such as to indicate the operation of a ‘Signal Group Replacement Control’ that instructs all signals in the area to be put back to red.

Open Train Times architecture One might be forgiven for wondering why all this timetable, signalling and train describer information needs to be known in such detail. The answer is simple - if a service is to be offered to the general public, then it has to be accurate, timely and understandable. Poor information soon gets an unenviable reputation and will not be trusted. The development of OTT has evolved. The architecture of the web site has grown to cope with the increasing number of users. The basic flow is as follows: Feed from Network Rail Open Data Message Queuing Servers (2 off) Processors (2 off) that consume the input data and update a database and in-memory data cache Multiple Web Clusters spread geographically Load Balancers Data out to Users.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




The site is written in the Ruby on Rails framework, with some functions being handled by more specialised software suited to the job. The system was initially hosted on Rackspace, but has since migrated to Linode as this offered cost and performance benefits. It has subsequently been migrated to Amazon Web Services, a popular cloudhosting environment used by thousands of companies, including National Rail Enquiries. To give an idea of the scale, every day the system accepts 750,000 TRUST messages, 7,250,000 TD steps and 525,300 train schedules. All of these inputs come free of charge from Network Rail’s Open Data platform. There are 126 hand drawn maps on the system with greater than 55,000 map elements and around 900 simultaneous concurrent map users. During the period when Flying Scotsman was running on the main line, this figure rose to 1,500.

Usage and users OTT was launched in January 2012. Like all applications, it is easy to access and use once you know how. The younger generation adapts to this better than my generation but the value of the information makes persisting worthwhile. Start by typing in opentraintimes.com; click on MAPS and type in the geographic location or town that you require. A series of map areas will display - East Midlands, Anglia, London Overground, Sussex, and so on - then click on the area you want. Click then on the particular line or section of line where you need information. A map will then appear showing the route, signal numbers and train describer berths. Users then need a bit of common sense to identify the particular train they are looking for. In the TD berths will appear as

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

a four-digit head code, for example 1A66. This represents a train which will move from berth to berth as its journey progresses. Not everyone will understand the type of train that the head code represents, but it is relatively easy to work out the particular train you are looking for. Other letters might appear in the berth which are entered as free text by the signallers. Examples are: “NOT” “IN” “USE” in adjacent berths; “LAND SLIP” “LINE SHUT”, “BLOC”, anything that gives the status of a particular line or route. An alternative is to click on the logo and search for trains by location. Clicking on the TRAINS icon will bring up an advanced search engine for anyone who wants to search for trains timed specifically at two points. To achieve this, you may need additional coded information for the specific trains you are looking for. Usage has since mushroomed - there are now over one million visits per month. A number of TOCs use OTT unofficially, but this only goes to demonstrate the value of the site and the information it yields. Open Train Times has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, where regular updates to the site are published.

Questions have been asked about cyber security, which has been considered but it begs the question as to what is open and closed data. Where data is open, the risk is much smaller since it is always available. In any case, the information is advisory and not critical so, if something is misinterpreted, no great damage is done. The relationship with Darwin was questioned, but Darwin exists to produce future information for Customer Information Screens and will interpret the same data sources to anticipate what information should be displayed. Peter Hicks has to be applauded for what he has achieved. It is not his full-time job and he makes no income from the public website. His ambition is simply to provide information for the travelling public – in essence, he is a modern-day philanthropist. Peter Hicks spoke to a joint meeting of the IRSE London & SE section and the Signal & Electrical Engineers’ Technical Society to explain how Open Train Times came about, the challenges faced and the work still to do.

Operations wide, results focused, digital management; improving performance and increasing capacity.

Real time, disruption management. Plan optimum stock and crew utilisation; improving service resilience and customer satisfaction. Digital platform with automated movement authorities. Integrates with all interlockings and any TMS; reducing the cost of operations and infrastructure renewals.







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Resignalling completed DAVID BICKELL


he block bells have fallen silent around Norwich and decommissioning of the McKenzie & Holland and Saxby & Farmer mechanical-lever interlocking frames and semaphore signals marks the end of an era dating back to the late 19th century.

Today, the new simple 2/3-aspect LED signals provide train drivers with a far superior forward view of the movement authority granted by the signaller sitting in the modern signalling centre at Colchester PSB. Achieving this outcome was anything but straightforward, with significant volumes of work associated with the new signalling, swing bridges, track renewals and a multitude of level crossings, not to mention technical challenges necessitating innovative engineering solutions. As the scheme entered the endgame, Mother nature intervened. The consecutive storms Ciara and Dennis made landfall during the two weekends of the 23-day commissioning blockade in February. Thankfully, the signalling project was able to continue with only minor re-planning, but concerns about safe deployment of a crane led to the cancellation of a separate bridge renewal project at Postwick within the same possession.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

diagram) including a single line serving Berney Arms, a station with no road access serving walkers, bird watchers and boaters.

Wherry lines

Atkins selects ElectroLogIXS

The Norwich - Yarmouth - Lowestoft lines are marketed as the ‘Wherry Lines’ by the train operator, the name given in the late 18th century to a type of cargocarrying sailing barge with large sails. For the purposes of this project, however, Network Rail preferred the acronym ‘NYL’ although this isn’t strictly accurate. The Norwich station throat has a freewired route relay interlocking operated from the 1986 NX panel at Colchester PSB, whilst Whitlingham Junction was resignalled under the Cromer project of 2000 utilising Vaughan-Harmon VHLC interlockings controlled by a modular control system (MCS) signaller interface located at Trowse swing bridge signal box. The latter products subsequently became part of the GE Transportation Systems (GETS) empire, the signalling interests of which have recently been acquired by Alstom, a supplier to the NYL scheme. NYL signalling commences four miles out of Norwich near Brundall Gardens and controls forty route miles of railway (see

Atkins (part of SNC-Lavalin) was appointed signalling and civil engineering contractor and designs integrator, managing a host of supporting contractors and suppliers (see inset). Network Rail was responsible for the integration of the intended Postwick bridge works and management of the permanent way and telecommunications teams. The delivery office was based at Lowestoft, while the principal office was at Stratford. Atkins offered ElectroLogIXS computerbased interlocking technology, supplied by Alstom, which is already used extensively around the world (issue 176, July 2019). It communicates using internet protocol (IP), and off-site assessment has demonstrated compatibility with ETCS. The NYL project is the largest UK installation to date. ElectroLogIXS has a small footprint and allows longer copper tail cables to be used, such as signals at 1,600 metres and wheel sensor cable as long as five

Resignalled lines Cromer Sheringham Whitlingham Jn


Norwich Ely Cambridge Peterborough

Other track lines

Brundall Brundall Junction

A Trowse Swing Bridge

Ipswich Colchester Liverpool Street



Buckenham Berney Arms Cantley



Great Yarmouth


Brundall Gardens


All new signalling ‘NYL’ project area


Reedham Swing Bridge

Reedham Junction Somerleyton Swing Bridge

Saxmundham Ipswich

Haddiscoe Somerleyton Oulton Broad Oulton North Broad South


kilometres. This facilitates the provision of fewer apparatus cases (LOCs), which can then be positioned close to a suitable track access point. Whilst maintainers prefer the safe, warm and dry environment of an REB to undertake maintenance and faulting duties, modern electronic interlockings are very reliable and require little maintenance. Any faults that occur will generate a report at the control centre, specifying which component needs to be changed, minimising the traditional time-consuming lineside fault diagnosis.

Signalling islands The NYL lines are split up into six signalling islands at Brundall, Acle, Yarmouth, Reedham, Somerleyton and Lowestoft. Each island has a minimal power supply point (mPSP), providing the 650V AC signalling power supply to LOCs within the island. Each individual LOC will have a 650/110V mains transformer, ElectroLogIXS chassis, central processor input/output cards, Frauscher axle counter


Single track lines


N Lowestoft

Oulton Broad Swing Bridge

Brundall level crossing – out went the Victorian gates (left) and in went MCB barriers. The new road layout had to permit boats to leave the adjacent boatyard while an overhead telephone cable over the railway had to be raised to avoid getting caught by the barriers. system, network switch, and UPS unit. There is a suite of six different templated LOC cases, each catering for a combination of external signalling functions, built and wired in the Unipart factory. Once delivered to site, the LOCs are connected to power, twin-fibre cables installed to connect to the multi-services network (MSN). The lineside copper tail cables are connected using US militarygrade plug couplers. Non-exposed Wago links provide technician access for circuit disconnection and testing. Each of the six islands is allocated a separate ElectroLogIXS interlocking, which is situated at Colchester. The ElectroLogIXS input/output cards in the

LOCs link the signals and points with the central interlocking processor at the control centre via the MSN, which is transmitted from the local FTN node to Colchester via FTNx. The extent of concrete troughing is substantially reduced by using Nexans ruggedized axle counter cable with steel tape, wrapped with uPVC. In between the islands there is no power supply, nor any cabling apart from the FTNx communications and data carrier network. This was already in situ prior to the project and is a small green sheathed double-insulated super armoured cable (DISAC), a 24-fibre cable, designed to be laid on the surface.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




Acle Marshes VAMOS MSL, fed by renewable power.

Getting grid power to the islands Electricity in this area is delivered by the distribution network operator (DNO) - UK Power Networks. Although there is sufficient capacity to meet the signalling power requirements, the challenge was to get cabling from their existing network to the location of the mPSPs at the railway islands. A lot of work involved consultation with landowners and stakeholders in order to run cabling across third party land involving numerous methods of construction including Directional Boring, a minimal-impact trenchless method of installing underground utilities such as pipes, conduit, or cables in a relatively shallow arc or radius along a prescribed underground path using a surfacelaunched drilling rig. This technique, which offers significant environmental advantages over traditional cut and cover installations, is used when conventional trenching or excavating is not practical or when minimal surface disturbance is required. The mPSP itself takes in power from the grid and outputs the signalling 650V AC, comprising transformers, switchgear, Uninterruptable Power Supply, a small standby generator plus space for a portable generator to be delivered by road and plugged in to cover for a prolonged mains interruption.

Signal boxes and swing bridges The original signal boxes at Brundall, Acle (the oldest box and frame installed 1883), Yarmouth Vauxhall, Cantley, Reedham Junction, Oulton Broad North and Lowestoft have been abolished. The boxes at Reedham and Somerleyton swing bridges have been retained to operate the swing bridges across the Rivers Yare and Waveney respectively. These boxes are no longer block posts, with the associated shelf type relays and circuitry recovered. The two levers formerly controlling the protecting signals on the Up and Down lines respectively have been converted to ‘slot’ levers, used to release the new colour-light protecting signals controlled from Colchester. The lever locks and circuit controllers interface with the ElectroLogIXS via relays.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

The signallers at Reedham and Somerleyton have full visibility of train movements in the area by means of the CCF (train running) display and may swing the bridges without reference to the signaller at Colchester as they are fully interlocked with the signalling system. They must ensure the bridges are back, detected in the home position with bridge bolts in position and slots pulled off in good time for the next train. The bridge operating mechanisms have not been upgraded. At Oulton Broad Swing Bridge, a ground frame exists and the bridge operator must request a ‘release’ from Colchester to enable the bridge to be swung.

GENERAL ACRONYMS » CCF - Control Centre of the Future (displays basic live information from the signalling system such as signal aspects, routes set and train descriptions) » ETCS - European Train Control System » FTNx - Network Rail’s fixed telecommunications network IP cable » GSM-R - driver to signaller radio system » NX - ‘Entrance-Exit’ method of setting a route on a panel or workstation » PSB - Power Signal Box » REB - relocatable equipment building (also referred to as a “walk-in LOC”) » S&C - Permanent Way switches and crossings » SPAD - Signal Passed at Danger » SPT - Signal Post Telephone » TPWS - Train Protection Warning System (stops a train that has, or is about to exceed movement authority or speed limit) » UPS - Uninterruptible Power Supply (battery backup) » VHLC - Vital Harmon Logic controller (computer-based interlocking)

Control centre The new signalling is controlled by the new Brundall and Lowestoft MCS VDUbased Signaller’s Control System (VSCS) workstations, which fringe with Trowse Bridge and Saxmundham boxes. Anglia Route already has several MCS workstations in service, including several on the operating floor of Colchester PSB, so adding two more of the same brand greatly simplified staff training and flexibility for both signallers and technicians. There is a MCS training suite for signallers which may be programmed with a simulation covering the track layout of any of the MCS installations on Anglia. Within the signalling centre, the MSN links the MCS, VSCS, ElectroLogIXS, MCB-CCTV control unit, Frauscher axle counter system and a firewall, thence communicating with the signalling islands via a Node interface to the FTNx network.

Train detection, points and signals Frauscher RSR123 wheel sensors are used throughout for train detection purposes (axle counters), as barrier strike-in points and SPAD Prediction triggers. Point operating mechanisms are either in-bearer clamp locks or MkII rail point clamp locks. Signals comprise LED heads, two-thirds provided with ‘dropdown’ posts. Signal Post Telephones (SPT) are provided at 22 out of 64 signals, provision of which was determined in conjunction with Network Rail and the train operator using the fixed lineside assessment tool (FLAT). It basically assesses the risk associated with each signal and the operational likelihood of a train being held at it and having to phone the signaller. With the extensive coverage of GSM-R, FLAT challenges the need to provide SPTs. A white diamond symbol fitted to the signal post is used to indicate to the driver a signal not fitted with a SPT.

FEATURE Lowestoft workstation at Colchester PSB.

Train driver briefing packs for the new signalling were supplied by Gioconda, and the standard Network Rail ‘yellow notice’ produced in an easy to use booklet with track diagrams and lists of routes.

Level crossings At the start of the scheme there were over seventy level crossings, including user-worked crossings (UWCs), and Sotera was contracted to carry out risk assessments to determine the level of protection needed and which crossings

needed upgrading. Extensive local consultation was arranged to ensure road/ footpath closures and diversions were clearly communicated to users. The five manually controlled gates (MCG) have been replaced with manually controlled barriers with CCTV (MCBCCTV). The existing life-expired MCB at Oulton Broad has been replaced with a completely new MCB-CCTV, whilst the existing MCB-CCTV at Victoria road has been re-controlled from Colchester. The ABCL (automatic barrier crossing -

Higher Speed Installing, operating and maintaining rail infrastructure safely, quickly and efficiently, with minimal disruption is a big challenge.

locally monitored) at Gravel Pit has been retained. The MCBs are driven directly from the ElectrologIXS cards. Auto-lower is not provided. Annunciator actuation points (AAPs), consisting of Frauscher sensors, trigger a warning on the signaller’s CCTV control unit, causing the camera to display the crossing. The signaller then has to press and hold the LOWER button to operate the barrier sequence, prior to pressing CROSSING CLEAR to allow signal/s to clear. Where a station platform


Innovative solutions are needed. Whether it’s a temporary, semi-permanent or permanent access point, whatever the sleeper spacing, our customers can install a 10.8m RRAP in less than 90 minutes, reducing possession times and costs. Rosehill Rail – Setting New Standards For more information, or to enquire about training, please call the Rosehill Rail sales team on +44 (0)1422 317 473, or email info@rosehillrail.com

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Road Crossings


Road Rail Access


Pedestrian Crossings

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17/03/2020 10:09

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020



FEATURE The last days of semaphore signalling at Lowestoft.


6 ElectroLogIXS interlockings 168 Frauscher wheel sensors 5 green banner repeaters 12 In-bearer clamp lock points 62 LED signals with AWS 6 MCB-CCTV 2 MCS 11 MSL 3.5km new track 8 Rail Point Clamp Locks MkII 13 route indicators 2 TPWS over-speed loops 8 TPWS permanent speed-restriction loops » 12 TPWS train-stop loops

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

intervenes between the AAP and the crossing, ‘stopping’ and ‘non stopping’ AAPs are provided, the train description of the approaching train automatically informing the system which sequence is required. Auto-raise is provided.

SPAD prediction For the first time on Network Rail, the intrinsic speed-sensing ability of the Frauscher wheel sensor is deployed to provide SPAD prediction. This functionality is used at Brundall (Up) and Cantley (Down) platforms, where the crossing protecting signals are located closer than the 50 metres required by the standard and stopping trains may encounter the signal at red. Two wheel-sensors, positioned at specified distances from the level crossing, both detect how fast the wheel is travelling. The speed message is pulled out of the telegram to the evaluator and checked against a set speed which, if exceeded, will send a direct message to the crossing controller to immediately initiate the level crossing sequence and sound an alarm in the signal box. Atkins developed the system with Frauscher.

Methanol fuel cells The risk assessments deemed that eleven UWCs be converted to miniature stop lights (MSLs). There are two different types. Four have stop signals within the strike-in and are therefore controlled by the ElectroLogIXS. One is fed from the signalling 650V supply, the other six are situated outside of a signalling island, devoid of mains power. The solution adopted is the deployment of the VAMOS (Value for Money System) ‘plug and play’ controller built from industrial standard components, developed by Schweizer Electronic of Switzerland and approved to SIL 3 (safety integrity level 3). Frauscher wheel sensors trigger the sequence and there is no signaller involvement. Power is delivered by a local, renewable combination of batteries, solar panels and methanol fuel cells, specially developed for the project by Network Rail, Atkins, Unipart, Fuel-Cell Systems, and Energy Development Co-operative (EDC) Solar Wind. The project team took this through an extensive approval process and are keen for the technology to be exploited elsewhere on the railway.


GSM-R telephones for UWCs

New signal and track layout at Acle. Inset – Miniature stop lights at Acle Marshes.

Many UWCs are in remote locations without power and so, in another innovative development, solar-powered radio phones using mobile technology have been provided by DAC. Calls are routed through the GSM-R network to the GSM-R UK hub at Didcot, then pass onto the FTNx network to the concentrator at Romford ROC, continuing over FTNx to Colchester PSB, coming in on the signaller’s general telephone touchscreen, not the GSM-R terminal. Several near-misses and a serious collision at Thetford have focussed attention on improving safety at UWCs. One key difficulty for signallers is knowing where a train is in a long block section and judging whether a level-crossing user calling in has sufficient time to cross safely. On the NYL scheme, train detection sections are arranged to ensure that the signaller can observe on the screen when trains are within five minutes of reaching the crossing.

FAST. EASY. SAFE Data Collection with the TRIMBL GEDO IMS System


UK: 0345 603 1214 IRL: 01 456 4702 www.korecgroup.com info@korecgroup.com Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




Relaying and recoveries at Lowestoft.

Staging the work Although primarily a signalling renewal project, the opportunity was taken to carry out a much-needed simplification of the steam-age track layout and undertake some general relaying. As much work as physically possible was undertaken without requiring possessions, but most of the work was concentrated into five

phases with line closures, during which the key tasks were: » Phase 1 - October 2017 - S&C remodelling at Yarmouth and Somerleyton. A temporary relay interface was added at Yarmouth to enable levers to work the new points and signals. » Phase 2 - February 2018 - Lowestoft

OTHER ASSOCIATED SUPPLIERS: » Abacus Lighting - level crossing CCTV, and station platform lighting » AECOM - track design » CHG Electrical - remote condition monitoring » Colas Rail - track units (S&C Alliance with Network Rail) » Collis Engineering - signal posts » Kier - minor civil engineering work associated with cable work » Network Rail Telecommunications - FTNx data network and comms systems » Newgate - level crossing barrier machines

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

» Northgate Public Services - IP phones for signals and networking systems » Rail Signalling & Power (RSP) - point heating » Ricardo Rail - independent safety assessments » RJC Projects (Engineering) - heavy lifting contractors installing mPSPs » Samuel James Engineering (Unipart) mPSPs » Thales - TPWS equipment » Unipart Dorman - LED signal heads » Unipart Rail - control cubicles, location cases, barrier lights, AWS

S&C initial remodelling. » Phase 3 - October 2018 - Reedham S&C remodelling and plain line renewals, new S&C secured out of use. Reedham Jn box closed and block section extended Brundall to Reedham Swing Bridge. Temporary suspension of train service via Berney Arms. » Phase 4 - March 2019 - S&C remodelling and relaying at Brundall Jn with temporary relay interface to the points. » Phase 5 - February 2020 - Level crossing works, S&C remodelling at Acle and Lowestoft, full signalling commissioning, track relaying at Hassingham. Twentythree days of various line closures. The Wherry lines have long been perceived as a Cinderella route with cascaded rolling stock and antiquated signalling. The successful introduction of state-of-the-art signalling and new Class 755 bi-mode diesel/electric trains brings the route decisively into the 21st century. With thanks to David Taylor, Ian Martin and Stephen Deaville of Network Rail, and Douglas Shields of Atkins, for their help in the preparation of this article.

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Location SYSTEMS



nowing a train’s location is a vital piece of information in the control of train movements - one that has existed almost since

railways were first born.

In the earliest of days, time interval working was used, where trains were dispatched at set times in the hope that the second train would not catch up with the first, but, after a few nasty accidents, something else was needed. Thus, a form of train location system was devised. Advances in technology over the years have led to a number of systems being developed. These can be listed as: » Absolute Block Working - a train’s location is known to be between two adjacent signalboxes, often several miles apart. » Track Circuits - the rail-wheel device that will detect the presence of a train by the wheels providing a short circuit across the rails. Track circuits can vary in distance and can be hundreds of metres in length, so the train location is only known between the track circuit ends. » Axle Counters - a more-reliable replacement for track circuits. However, they also can often count in and out over a long section of track. » Induction Loops - two wires laid out between the rails, with periodic crossover positions, to give reference locations. They constantly transmit information to and from the train, usually associated

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

with Automatic Train Operation (ATO). » Satellite Tracking - technology derived from military and automotive systems, where a train aerial constantly receives the geographical location and displays this either to the driver or is transmitted onwards to a control office. Does not work in tunnels or other covered areas. » Camera Images -a forward-facing camera ‘compares’ the actual image of a train’s position against images held in a reference data base. The resultant position can be transmitted to a control office. » Acoustic Sensing - A train’s vibration

pattern as it progresses its journey is picked up by lineside sensing equipment, usually a fibre optic cable. The resultant change in optical patterns will constantly detect a train’s presence and speed. All of these have strengths and weaknesses. The original requirement of interfacing with the signalling equipment to allow the clearance of signals or the setting of routes is clearly vital in terms of safety, so such devices are invariably SIL4 rated (safety integrity level 4). There is also a need to ensure that a train is complete (that a coupling has not


broken) and the safety-based location devices achieve this. However, these devices are less able to provide the precise position of a train as it journeys forward. With the ever-increasing demand both to optimise performance and to make expert judgements on re-timing trains when things go wrong, knowing the exact position and speed of a train at any point in time becomes essential, especially when penalty payments are involved. This requirement has resulted in the adoption of modern technology that

feeds performance systems rather than safety applications. There is also the cost factor. Infrastructure providers and train operators want value for money and, if modern technology systems prove to be significantly cheaper than the traditional detection devices, then they are likely to be adopted. To try and bring all these factors into a single perspective, the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers organised a webinar in late February, during which suppliers could present their products

and vision. It proved to be a fascinating session, if only to demonstrate the difficult choices that have to be made.

Track circuits and axle counters Track circuits have been around for decades and have progressed from simple DC battery-fed circuits with insulated rail joints, through AC power-fed circuits of 50Hz, 125Hz and 331/2Hz frequencies to provide immunisation from traction systems, to higher-frequency devices that enable tuned circuits to be established and eliminate the need for rail joints.






Call or email today for a quote from your drawings or product requirements. T 0117 970 2420 E sales@eziklampsystems.com



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Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




Rated as SIL4, they are high up in the list of safety requirements and will be around for many years yet. However, the variable resistance of track ballast in wet and dry conditions, as well as the vulnerability of the wired connections to damage by on-track machines, make for reliability problems. Richard Hinson from London Underground stated that track circuits were the biggest cause of all failures in the signalling equipment portfolio. This situation, coupled with problems in obtaining spare relays for the older-generation equipment, suggests that track circuits are no longer the favoured system for train location requirements. Axle counters are the logical alternative. Equally troublesome when first introduced several years ago, design and configuration improvements now make them the system of choice when safety considerations dominate. Early problems with miscounts and the lengthy time for resets to restore normal operation have largely been overcome by the building in of intelligence features that distinguish between a train and an unwanted disturbance. Modern designs are clamped to the rails rather than bolted to them, which would require the rails to be drilled, in an improvement that meets with approval from track engineers. Manfred Sommergruber from Frauscher described the mechanical strengthening that has been built-in to the company’s latest product (SENSiS) to combat climate change, dirt ingress, flooding, rail hammering effect and deliberate vandalism. Connecting axle counters to the signalling system has been made easier with the adoption of digitisation

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

and the replacement of relay interfaces with a serial data-stream. Not only does this make the device more reliable, but it enables more information to be provided, such as wheel diameter and temperature. Improved diagnostics and the opportunity to use a radio connection are there for the taking, but, if landlines are preferred, connecting all axle counters within an area onto a data ring allows for continuous operation should a cable break occur. As indicated earlier, both track circuits and axle counters have the disadvantage of only knowing a train’s location between two specific points.

Acoustic sensing Realisation that pulses of light within a fibre optic cable could detect local vibration and thuds occurred several

years ago. Detecting rock falls was an initial application, but, since then, the technology has been developed to provide a means of detecting trains. An injected light source on to a dark fibre will see a marginal change in the refractive index where any disturbance takes place. The time taken for this ‘back scatter’ to get back to the source enables the distance to be calculated. The processing by a tracking algorithm has advanced to enable more intelligence to be obtained from the reflected pulses, according to Kevin Tribble from Sensonic, and the latest systems are capable of measuring both train location and speed with interfaces to traffic management systems (TMS) and customer information systems (CIS). Installations exist worldwide, including on Network Rail and London Underground. Several factors need to be understood for an acoustic system to be deployed: » Fibre location (always assuming a fibre cable already exists and has spare fibres within it) and its installation method buried, in troughing, laid on the surface; » Calibration as to knowing the fibre to track distances and whether fibre spools exist in joints; » Classification as to train mass, speed and size limits, plus performance variables across the tracks. Ongoing development continues to improve interpretation of the fibre disturbance, resulting in a higher dynamic range that can detect wheel flats, detection of track conditions including


with non-safety situations working up to the possibility of SIL2 applications, such as door closure and speed supervision. Compared with GPS, the system has the advantage of knowing which track a train is on. Trials are currently underway at a location in the UK and a fuller article on the system may appear in due course. For use of the positioning information outside the train, any such production system would need the means to transmit the location data to where it is needed.

Satellite tracking

broken rails and, most importantly, which track a train is on. The approach has changed from being quantitative to qualitative, and it is foreseen that acoustic sensing will be able to augment ETCS positioning information. The system clearly has much promise and may be able to fulfil both safety and precise location requirements.

Camera imaging With many trains now equipped with a forward-facing camera for security purposes, can this camera be used to identify a train’s location? For some time, Richard Shenton from RDS International has been developing the Valise system (Virtual Balise), where the real-time picture is compared to a stored picture, thus producing a location position. Being entirely train-based and with the camera already installed, this offers a low-cost solution to the challenge but there are potential drawbacks to be addressed. To have a full and continuous CCTV picture all of the time would require massive amounts of data to be processed. Instead, the stored picture is reduced to a ‘fingerprint’, containing just the essential information needed for the location algorithm. The reduction is around 1000 times, allowing the whole rail network to be contained in a few gigabytes of storage. The small ‘fingerprints’ allow the live picture to be matched to a stored image in real time on a low-cost computer. In addition, the fingerprinting process provides the robustness to match locations in changing environmental conditions. Weather conditions, including snow, are claimed not to be a problem

as sufficient similarity exists between real and stored images. Of course, track remodelling would need the stored image to be updated, so an element of re-work will always be necessary. Trial results for identifying the correct track from a single image indicate the following performance: » Normal daylight including rain - 99% » Night-time usage - 92.5% » Snow in normal daylight - 75% Results from a number of image matches are used to achieve the required level of confidence. For ‘along track accuracy’ the position is within 50cm for 68 per cent of the time and two metres for 99.7 per cent of the time. Confidence and usage would need to be gained incrementally, starting initially

With SatNav systems regarded as a normal part of road vehicle equipment, how suitable are satellite systems for train location purposes? Vincent Passau from Alstom gave details of the EU-backed 2020 STARS project (Satellite Technology for Advanced Railway Signalling). Whilst its prime interest is supplying high-integrity signalling systems, Alstom was looking to use additional technology to overcome some shortfalls in odometry, as used for ERTMS distance measurements. Choices are wheel-based sensors, radar (sensitive to weather conditions), GPS/GNSS (subject to signal availability and multi-path reception), optical rail readers (installation constraints) and accelerometers. Of these, a satellite-based solution is the most promising, but it needs to have higher accuracy to give Positive Train

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Detection (PTD). The outcome would be fewer balises plus more information for ATO stopping distances and on-board passenger information updates. Hence STARS, with objectives to assure predictable performance, interoperability and alignment with the European Shift2Rail initiative. Assessing GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) accuracy in field measurements indicates there is a gap between the requirements and results, so it is likely that an enhanced odometry solution will be required as well. Gyrometers and accelerometers would be used to cover tunnels or other locations where a satellite signal is lost. Precise inertial navigation will be needed to cover short-term changes. Large-scale trials are planned in Norway, with the overall objective of contributing to a SIL4 rated computation and data merging.

train integrity. Both track loops and radio tags give reliable positioning but hinder track maintenance. In the search for a train-centric location system, a future NGPS (Next Generation Positioning System) is being developed using ultra-wideband radio (UWBR) that will be positioned at platforms, junctions and other significant rail features and will dispense with the track tags. This, together with radar and LiDAR devices, will achieve accurate location information. The system has no undercarriage installations and no track-based equipment. Trials are underway on the Flushing lines of New York City Transport. UK applications are planned for an Advisory System for Signallers (ASSIGN) on the Barnstaple and Okehampton branch lines in Devon, and as an interface to TPWS Mk4 on the Hertford Loop test track to give continuous over-speed monitoring.

ATO It is a given that any ATO system must know the exact location of all trains in the system and have a guarantee of train integrity. Raymond Sturton from Thales gave a brief history of the Seltrac system development, from its initial use of track loops for positioning information to the current deployment of radio using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags placed in the track together with radio antennae. Axle counters continue to be deployed for secondary detection purpose as well as giving assurance on

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

Comparison with road transport We are all aware of the research into autonomous vehicles

and connected transport, which require accurate location and speed data. Raphael Grech from CAV Spirent made the point “if it moves, it must position”. Driverless vehicles will need highly accurate positioning equipment which cannot be achieved with just a single sensor. So, a combination of GNSS, radar, LiDAR, cameras, localised assets (lane positioning) and cabin sensing will all be needed, as will connectivity between all of them. Synchronising position with other vehicles is essential. Three factors need to be fulfilled: » Local Positioning - where is the vehicle in relation to local topography?


» Relative Positioning - where is the vehicle in relation to other vehicles and people? » Global Positioning - where is the vehicle location? For the latter, GNSS is the only system available, but it gets taken for granted which can lead to wrong decisions being made. Interference, risk of spoofing, segment errors, multi-path connections, atmospheric conditions and cyber-attacks are all being investigated by the military. KPIs are integrity, continuity, robustness, accuracy and availability. Test methods vary, but they must cover everything. Much use is made of simulation but ‘live sky’ testing must happen at some point. Receiver design is important - if it cannot see a satellite, then detection will not take place and an inaccuracy of one to two metres is unacceptable. Receivers should ideally receive signals from at least five satellites, which need to have different position angles. Constant monitoring as to how the system is working is necessary. The complexities of logging the position

of autonomous road vehicles to the accuracy required make the train location challenge look easy perhaps, but a lot more money is available for research and development?

Some questions and thoughts Whilst the ideas and analysis of train location systems proved fascinating, from a customer’s perspective, could it be somewhat bewildering? Maybe a potential purchaser needs to consider what the system actually needs to do? The traditional SIL 4 systems of track circuits and axle counters give information sufficient to set routes and clear signals, but they are of less value when the precise location of a train is required. SIL2 systems, such as acoustic sensing and satellite tracking, give a precise geographic location but may not be able to determine the actual track that a train is on, nor that the train is complete. Camera imaging has the advantage of low cost but an integrity level that would be insufficient for SIL4 applications.

Then there is the vexed question of standardisation versus innovation. If a particular technology was selected, would it need to be adopted on a large geographic scale to ensure interoperability? A wholly train-borne solution makes this problem somewhat easier. Of all the technologies considered, the fibre-based acoustic sensing seems to offer the greatest potential, as it can do both positioning and train integrity with the ability to count wheels and bogies. With more-intelligent algorithms, it should also be possible to detect which particular track carries a train. All of this begs the question as to whether a ‘Track Map’ could be defined but, even if it was possible, it would need to cater for the ‘changing face of the railway’, such as weekend renewal work. It seems likely that a combination of systems will be necessary to fulfil both safety and commercial requirements, much as is happening in the road industry. The next few years should prove interesting.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020










Signalling – faults and interventions A42

How MECX Group has built a reputation for problem solving


hile the large signalling schemes catch all the

Buried services

headlines, such as the Norwich-Yarmouth-

The MECX team doesn’t just have the expertise to replace cables in established troughing. Buried services are also something of a speciality, particularly when they are unidentified. In fact, MECX is often called in when problems with unidentified buried services are starting to affect project deadlines. Timely intervention can swiftly resolve issues by identifying and, if necessary, relocating or removing the offending infrastructure. In fact, this sort of intervention is becoming a regular source of work for MECX. Bringing in the team to fault find or solve technical problems can allow a contractor to concentrate on the main work and stay on schedule. MECX Group CEO Greg Salisbury (below), who recently joined the company, is impressed with what he has found. “The general level of skill and enthusiasm shown by the MECX workforce is truly impressive,” he said. “It is now up to me and my colleagues on the board to set out what the vision and strategy need to be for MECX to fulfil the huge potential it holds, and to deliver on the development plans we have for the business.”

Lowestoft scheme elsewhere in this issue, it is the smaller upgrades and repairs that actually

keep the system going. As Paul Darlington explained last month, there are many reasons for the frequent ‘signalling failures’ that disrupt our railway on a weekly basis.

Take the problem of cable theft. Last year, thieves removed cables that run alongside the freight-only Leicester to Burton line where it runs past Ashby de la Zouch and across the A42. They removed the lids of the concrete cable trough and dragged out large amount of lineside cabling. As a result, a section of line 4.5 miles long had to be taken out of use as the signals no longer worked. Network Rail contracted MECX Group to repair the damage.

One theft – three weeks to repair Two sites were involved. At Hick’s Lodge, 1,200 metres of one power cable and three signalling cables had to be replaced, while, at Corkscrew Lane, 1,460 metres of both power and signalling cable were required. Network Rail provided the new cables in 500-metre lengths, so these needed splicing before they could be installed in the troughs below the remaining cables that were still in situ. The cables were bundled and tied together and the trough lids were glued back in place. All of the work was carried out during normal working hours while line blocks were in place. Safety was assured by the use of a protection controller and controllers of site safety (COSS). The whole job took three weeks. The MECX office at Rugby undertook all the planning, and additional staff were brought in from the company’s Cardiff and Crewe offices. Network Rail requested that the team undertake a raft of additional work at the same time, and this was successfully pulled in within the timescale.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020


Training Being able to offer such a varied range of activity requires a high level of expertise, so MECX has developed its own training scheme for its employees. It was recognised that maintaining the quality of the signalling resource requires a commitment to investment, focused management, and 360° reviews to ensure staff are correctly allocated training at a point when they are technically capable and have sufficient working knowledge. In the last 12 months, MECX signalling engineers, testers and technicians have completed 2,821 hours of training. Equipment manufacturers have completed bespoke master-class training on specific axle counter variants, while

training providers throughout the UK have delivered courses on Basic Signalling 1&2, Electrical Installation and EBI200 track circuits. To increase skills in areas recognised throughout the industry as requiring focus, MECX Signalling has raised Faulting courses for its testers and technicians, covering both generic faulting techniques as well as equipment-specific methodology. In addition, working in partnership with Warwickshire College Group, MECX has employed a Level 3 Business Administration Apprentice. Luke joined the team in January 2020 and is already working well, undertaking analytics and backroom support to the engineering teams alongside starting a business modular learning programme at Rugby College. The balance of hands-on working experience and training, with a salary, is a great opportunity for growth of the apprentice, whilst providing a real value output to MECX. To handle all of this training, MECX has established three training rooms and a board/meeting room at its Rugby headquarters, all of which are able to comfortably seat 12 delegates. Using this facility, group subsidiary PPS Rail is now

delivering safety-critical training for both internal and external staff and MECX Signalling is using the same facility to host rail-specific courses delivered by the manufacturers of signalling equipment for its staff. The facilities are available for use by external companies and can be hired, with or without catering, by the day - a professional and high-quality venue available in the centre of the UK motorway network. To enquire about hiring this facility, contact Lynn Morgan on 01788 877 270.

MECX Group is a UK based contracting organisation and technical services provider operating across the infrastructure markets of Great Britain, Ireland and Canada.


Rail Engineering From the maintenance of existing assets, right through Transportation Road/Rail Plant Operations to constructing new roads, bridges or even railways; Facilities Management You can be assured that team MECX has the Utilities capabilities to deliver all of your project needs! Support Services Training, Apprenticeships & Possession Planning Vegetation Management

To ďŹ nd out more about what MECX can offer you, visit www.mecxgroup.co.uk Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020





An Analysis of D


espite the government having given the green light for HS2 to proceed, the project remains as controversial as ever. With the media, and even the informed press, reporting regularly on the pros and cons, often with dubious facts presented, just what are the issues that provoke such passionate public feelings? The Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum recently held a seminar in an attempt to focus on the current situation and the way forward. With an impressive line-up of speakers, Rail Engineer went along to listen in. It proved fascinating, although it soon became evident that political and financial issues were going to dominate, with engineering being almost a secondary consideration.

The Oakervee Review This recent publication has no doubt influenced the government decision to proceed. Newly elected MP Chris Loder, who, as a career railwayman, mainly with South West Trains, is likely to have more professional knowledge than other MPs, said that he was an advocate of HS2. However, he was increasingly sceptical on how things were developing, particularly as to the rising costs. Lord Tony Berkeley, well known in railway circles, especially the freight sector, had at one time been a member of the review team, but had recently stepped down, citing concerns as to the ongoing findings.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

The Oakervee review had been given broad terms of reference. These, which included a study of the business case, interfaces with other lines and cost escalation, had involved meetings with Network Rail, regional leaders, HS2 and HS2 Ltd, the Department for Transport and the Treasury. A large amount of information had been offered up but, with non-disclosure agreements in place, much of this was kept under wraps. In Lord Berkeley’s view, the projected train service pattern of 18 trains per hour (tph) seemed at odds with revenue calculations that were seemingly based


on 12-13tph. Also, the train speed projections were 360/400kph (225250mph), which is higher than the continental norm of 320kph (200mph). Cost projections had been £32 billion in 2011, rising to £38.4 billion in 2013 and escalating to £55.1 billion by 2019. Now, the Oakervee review of 2020 predicts a cost of £100 billion, and Lord Berkeley asked who in government was really aware of these numbers? Someone must have known, but chose to keep quiet for fear of damaging the project’s prospects. The benefit to cost ratio, originally thought to be 1.1, was now predicted to be 0.6, which he felt was not a good number. Will HS2 deliver? It certainly will for intercity travel, but Lord Berkeley believes that the benefits for the Midlands and North West are less certain. If costed to the full,

FEATURE sense but as regards seats, ticketing, luggage, door-to-door and affordability. That said, many people see HS2 as a world-class project to be proud of, where milestones should be celebrated, but that the project team will need to be seen to be listening, to be honest about difficult issues, to keep the information flowing and to improve community involvement. This latter point was taken up by representative questions from around the country, with the general feeling seeming to be that communication, so far, has generally been poor.

Real estate and land acquisition and including associated line upgrades such as Midland main line electrification, Cross Country improvements and the Chiltern line upgrades, the total cost could well be £230 billion over 20 years. Was the Oakervee review entirely independent? Some think not, and Lord Berkeley has become sceptical. However, he did say when asked that, yes, he remains pro-HS2 - but only under the right conditions and providing some realism is brought to the project.

Customer survey Transport Focus has been busy getting a passenger viewpoint on HS2 and the organisation’s head of innovation and partnerships, Ian Wright, explained that opinions from all sectors of society were being sought – young and old, disabled and visually impaired - with no implied prejudice in the questioning either for or against the project. The findings are that, above all, people want ‘barrier free travel’, not in the literal

These days, and unlike in Victorian times when the original railways were built, things always get controversial when land and houses have to be procured to make way for major projects. Colin Ligman, from independent law firm Burges Salmon, stated that planning, legal fees and environmental issues will likely make up 25 per cent of the total HS2 costs, an enormous figure. He stressed that, while litigation challenges will always occur, the aim should be to achieve peace with the land owners by focussing on the benefits that high-speed rail can offer. In his opinion, community engagement is essential to bring out the benefits for capacity gains on other lines. However, the Nimby (not in my back yard) brigade are becoming increasingly vociferous, not made any easier when poor ground conditions, contaminated land and the need for providing and accessing depots make the land issues ever more difficult. Above all, investors need certainty and this is not happening with HS2, leaving

people with properties that are effectively ‘off market’ and with compensation values that do not match similar projects in continental Europe.

Engineering and delivery HS2, despite all the planning and legal challenges, remains a significant engineering project. Alasdair Reisner, chairman of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, made the point that major projects, such as the Jubilee line extension, the Olympic Games and new motorways, all experienced the same level of dissent that HS2 is experiencing. However, once built, these projects all delivered far more than their stated business case. Safety is now a major factor and many improvements to safety have resulted from better project and delivery activities. Alasdair saw no reason why HS2 will not further this. Equally, digitisation advances have lagged behind in the construction industry, but HS2 is changing that and, in the process, growing a far more diverse workforce. The role of academia is important in overcoming some of the technical challenges of HS2, primarily to reduce costs. So said Prof Peter Woodward from Leeds University, who gave details of the new Innovation Centre for Rail that is currently being built. The three major elements of this will be a vehicle test facility, an infrastructure test facility and a system integration innovation centre, all of which will be relevant for HS2 as a gateway into industry. Integrating the people might be as big a challenge as the technology.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020



FEATURE Whilst all of this development, as outlined by Alasdair Reisner and Prof Woodward, is commendable, HS2 must not be allowed to become a playground for blue skies development. The engineering of high-speed lines is well understood in continental Europe and elsewhere, so ‘turning the handle’ on proven technology must be the chosen starting position.

Regional views A second session, led by Meg Hillier, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, probed some of the other issues. The Northern Power House is increasingly pressing for improved rail links into the major cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield, with rail director Tim Wood stating the objectives as ‘economic, capacity, connectivity and speed’. The perception that the North is the poor relation to the South in terms of infrastructure investment may be challenged by some areas in the south of England (and maybe the West), but there are projects like Thameslink that, if pursued elsewhere, would bring enormous benefits. So how can HS2 help? Tim believes that this, together with a new or improved cross-Pennine route from Manchester to Leeds, could be the catalyst for a new integrated rail plan. An objective of providing an extra 35,000 rail seats and getting 64,000 cars off the road is commendable. Similarly, Midlands Connect, with an area stretching from Lincoln to Ross-on-Wye and from Shrewsbury to Leicester, needs HS2 to be a major spine, according to Stephen Pauling, head of rail and HS2 at Midlands Connect. Whilst the West Midlands has seen rail growth of 121 per cent, and the East Midlands 37 per cent, in the last decade, east-west connectivity is still poor, with slow journey times and infrequent services. Coventry to Leicester is particularly bad, with only one per cent of travellers going by rail. Midlands’ objectives are to focus on connectivity to Birmingham Airport and on the Nottingham-Lincoln, Derby-Stoke-Crewe and BirminghamWolverhampton-Shrewsbury corridors, which can all benefit from HS2. The hubs at Birmingham and Toton will be key to all of these, with feeders to all the major towns and cities. It all makes sense but, when asked if this meant HS2 becoming an open access railway with local services being able

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

to use the line to achieve the desired connectivity, the response was surprisingly vague, with seemingly no real thought having been given, so far, as to train service patterns. It might be good advice for planners from these areas to go and watch how HS1 operates at St Pancras, where the Javelin services into all parts of Kent have revolutionised the commuting experience, with frequent services to even the remotest parts being well patronised. A localised plea came from Tricia Gilby of Chesterfield Council. Made famous by its Church’s crooked spire, the Derbyshire town comes within the Sheffield industrial area, where the linkage to HS2 is seen as significant for promoting growth now that most of the old industries have closed. Electrification of the Midland main line needs to proceed alongside it, so that, when combined with HS2, many local transport links will benefit.

Finances, costs and value Will HS2 deliver the projected outcomes and benefits? That was the question posed by Lee-Anne Murray from the National Audit Office. Previous reviews in 2013, 2014 and now in 2020 have all established that HS2 is significantly over

budget, with no ongoing certainty as to the overall cost. Lee-Anne was concerned that the range of projected costs is huge and still has many unknowns. She feels there is an urgent need to bear down on the contractual costs, in which the civil engineering element looks to be comparatively simple. IT factors will be crucial, but there is a general lack of transparency between clients and contractors. The rail industry has an unenviable record with scope creep, shown on projects such as GW and MML electrification, which reflects badly on the engineering expertise and competence available. Phase 2 of HS2 is bigger and more complex than Phase 1, so lessons will need to be learned as the project proceeds. Sustained support will be needed from government, industry and local authorities if the desired level of progress is to be achieved. One topic that, surprisingly, wasn’t mentioned was the possibility to learn from the construction of HS1, which opened in 2007. It is Britain’s only other high-speed line and it also carries the local Javelin service and some freight. Are there lessons to be learned?

FEATURE Future direction So, how important is high speed rail, both with and beyond HS2? Is the UK really going to achieve the successes that have been delivered in other countries? Nick Bisson, a director within the DfT for both HS2 and the Northern Power House, commented that the UK legal system, being founded on an adversarial approach, has created many of the current difficulties. His view is that HS2 is fundamentally an economic project, designed to eliminate the gap in prosperity between the North and the South, where the differences in labour rates between the two are considered to be the worst in Europe. For this, rail is the most carbon-efficient way of transporting large numbers of people. Coach transport would need dedicated routes on a large scale and electric cars could make congestion worse, unless multi-occupancy rules were instigated. Rail capacity is maximised when all trains are the same type and run at the same speed (London Underground’s Victoria line being a prime example) and HS2, as currently planned, will permit this. Upgrading existing routes would be very disruptive and would quite likely re-encounter the same capacity problems in the 2030s. The Oakervee review concluded that HS2 should proceed on the basis that no ‘shovel ready’ alternative exists, adding that phase 2b should also go ahead, but in conjunction with other transformational projects. Nick Bisson was concerned that civil engineering costs in the UK appear to be greater than in Europe, even when all factors are taken into account, so this will need close scrutiny.

For the present, phase 1 will commence construction in April and the hybrid bill for phase 2a needs to go through parliament. Phase 2b is still in development but integrating this into other services will be a main factor - it will need more than one hybrid bill.

Some personal thoughts Whilst this was a very interesting seminar, it was clear that diverging views remain on a substantial scale. Questions from the floor demonstrated that vested interests continue to be pursued rigorously - the City of Lichfield seemed very against the scheme but pleas for additional stations in other areas, such as Calvert, where HS2 will cross East-West Rail, were more sensible. We must remember than HS2 is just that, the second high-speed line in the UK. HS1 has been operating for well over a decade and has blended into the

environment, just like any other railway. If HS1 were to close, the lives of many people would be adversely affected, let alone risking the huge benefits to continental travel that has resulted. As indicated previously, it would be good if the Nimbys were to spend a few days just studying how HS1 is operated and the benefit that it brings. Even better would be to observe the high-speed operations in France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Spain, to witness what these have achieved. OK, the escalation in costs is a serious concern and the engineering community in particular needs to sit down and come up with ways on how these can be reduced. HS2 must not become a gravy train and all interested parties need to remember this. De-scaling the line for lower speeds would seem sensible, but the basic plea must be ‘just get on and do it!’

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




For those who’ve come across the seas We’ve boundless trains to share


ustralia is a huge country. With a land area of nearly three million square miles it is the sixth largest in the world. The long distances result in a rail network of over 20,000 miles of track, with the added complication of three main track gauges (1,067mm - 7,300 miles, 1,435mm - 10,800 miles and 1,600mm - 2,000 miles).

As a comparison, Great Britain also has a rail network of just over 20 thousand miles of track, but all of it is 1,435mm gauge. The reason the two track figures are so similar is that, despite its huge size, Australia’s population is relatively small. The world’s sixth-largest country is home to the world’s 55th largest population that, at around 25 million, is smaller than Nepal and Madagascar. That population is highly urbanised, with 86 per cent living in cities and large towns (40 per cent in Sydney and Melbourne alone) and around 85 per cent within 30 miles of the coast. This means that there are several thriving urban rail networks with some long-distance (and often single-track) lines in between. There are also extensive heavy-haul freight lines bringing ores and minerals to the coast.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

All of this means that there is a demand for railway engineers that the relatively small population can’t fulfil. The major systems therefore need to attract rail professionals from elsewhere predominantly the UK.

Site of western entrance to Metro Tunnel.


Arden station.

Metro Trains Melbourne One good example is Melbourne Metro. The state capital of Victoria, Melbourne has a population of five million (19 per cent of Australia’s total). It has an extensive metro railway system - Metro Trains Melbourne - with 15 lines (plus an events-only line to Flemington Racecourse) operated by 220 six-car trains running on 600 miles of track and serving 219 stations. Metro Trains Melbourne is a joint venture between MTR Corporation (60 per cent), John Holland Group (20 per cent) and UGL Rail (20 per cent). The same group also owns Metro Trains Sydney, which has run the services in Australia’s largest city since 2019. Metro Trains Melbourne has run the franchise since November 2009, initially for eight years but this has been extended until 2024. After a poor start Metro had recovered its reputation enough that it won the franchise extension in 2016 and is now working hard on a number of projects, for which it needs people.

Projects division The Projects Division was developed to help build Melbourne’s enhanced rail infrastructure. Set up to be an agile and flexible division to respond to government agendas and changes, it is pivotal in shaping Melbourne’s future as Metro shifts to a stronger focus on its passengers due to pace, volume and complexity. With the franchise in place until 2024, Metro has a secure future with the opportunity to develop longer term views,


Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020




The new Metro Tunnel will take three of the busiest lines under the centre of the city (route shown in blue) and will include five new stations. but it recognises the critical need for collaboration to keep people moving while it is building tomorrow’s network. The Projects Division is split into three portfolios:

Metro Tunnel Under RPVP - the Rail Projects Victoria Programme - three of the busiest train lines are being routed through a new twinbore tunnel. The A$11 billion (£5.5 billion) Metro Tunnel will create a new end-to-end rail line from Sunbury in the west to Cranbourne/Pakenham in the south-east, with high capacity trains and five new underground stations. The two new 5.6mile tunnels will free up Melbourne’s biggest bottleneck and enable 39,000 more passengers to use the rail system during each peak period. The Metro Tunnel Project is broken up into three work packages: » The Tunnels and Stations Public Private Partnership (PPP) » Rail Infrastructure Alliance (RIA) » Rail Systems Alliance (RSA).

Franchisee and third-party projects MTM is the network operator, but it works closely with a variety of third parties to perform maintenance on the track and deliver projects and upgrades. The franchisee projects team delivers a wide range of nominated projects on behalf of DOT (Department of Transport) and other state agencies, while the third-party team (Metro Site Access) manages general access to the MTM network by other organisations or agencies. Both project teams work closely with DOT to align with the Network Development Plan and deliver on government commitments. Current projects include: » Flinders Street Station Upgrade Project ($100M) » Melbourne Underground Rail Loop (MURL) Stage 2 ($134M) » Rolling Stock Cascade ($50M) » Platform Gap Mitigation Project ($24M) Various third-party works including: » Westgate Tunnel Project » Victrack Pedestrian Crossing Upgrades

Level crossing removal MTM’s Level Crossing Removal Team (MLXRT) is working with the state government to remove 75 level crossings across Melbourne. The removal of these level crossings will make communities safer and less congested and create thousands of jobs. Victoria’s biggest ever programme to remove level crossings started in 2015, with the majority already planned, underway or completed. The level-crossing removals are being completed by four alliances, the North Eastern, North Western, Southern and Western programme alliances, with key MTM employees embedded in these programmes of work supported by broader MTM. In addition, the LXRP is extending the Mernda line and building three new stations, as well as doubling the Hurstbridge line.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020

The level crossing removal programme involves some complex and heavy civil engineering.

FEATURE Recruitment All of this work needs people - trained, skilled and experienced people. And that’s a resource that Australia doesn’t have, or at least not in sufficient numbers. So MTM has developed a reliable and tangible recruitment strategy to tackle the industry’s lack of current and future resources and build a diverse and inclusive workforce to deliver on contracted MTM projects. Naturally, MTM’s first target was domestic, with recruitment drives in Brisbane (Queensland) and Perth (Western Australia). For these, MTM partnered with Engineers Australia (EA), the largest and most diverse professional body for engineers in Australia with around 150,000 members embracing all engineering disciplines. MTM has also looked to recruit internationally. It has worked with EA contacts in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, China and the Middle East, and will be visiting the UK in the middle of May. Hong Kong-based MTR, MTM’s part owner, already has a base in the UK - it will be the operator of the new Elizabeth line (Crossrail) in the UK when that opens next year - and is a partner with First Group in South Western Trains. The company

Excavations for the new State Library station.

also has personal contacts - Network Rail’s group director of Network Services, Nick King, spent four years as MTM’s general manager for Network Operations between 2014 and 2018. Taken with its excellent people initiatives - performance management, compensation reviews, succession planning - and its strong policies on diversity, wellness and mental health,

MTM hopes that a number of UK-based railway engineers and managers will be sufficiently tempted by the chance to work in Australia’s growing market that they will make the move.

To find out more,visit about a career with MTM, visit mtm-careers.com and see the advertisement on the next page.

Aerial view of the work at Arden station.

Rail Engineer | Issue 183 | April 2020


Shaping Melbourne Australia Are you interested in joining the project team at Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) that is involved in multibillion dollar city-shaping infrastructure projects? Did you know? Metro Trains Melbourne is part of the MTR family, with global reach across Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

Can you bring your wealth of experience to help us support the delivery of Melbourne’s two largest rail infrastructure projects? THE METRO TUNNEL PROJECT The A$11 billion Metro Tunnel will untangle the city loop so more trains can run more effectively across Melbourne. The Metro Tunnel scope includes twin nine-kilometre rail tunnels, five new underground stations as well as new high capacity signalling. The Metro Tunnel Project is being delivered in three work packages, with a programme-level team assisting each package. The three work packages are: Rail Systems Alliance, Rail Infrastructure Alliance and the Tunnels and Stations Public Private Partnership.

> KEY METRO TUNNEL PROJECT ROLES: Delivery Manager – Systems

Operations & Maintenance Readiness Manager

Lead the business change required to support Victoria’s ‘Big Build’ Infrastructure Program, specifically relating to the Metro Tunnel Project (MTP). You will ensure the safe delivery of the MTP Systems, a team of over 100 people and a turnover of over A$50m, acting as the alternative Alliance Leadership Team (ALT) for MTM, supporting the Project Director.

Provide a line-based focus to the various O&M team members across the MTP packages and High Capacity Metro Trains. The line-based focus will comprise full line trials prior to revenue service and managing the change impact of the MTP across the line and the wider business.

Enabling Services Manager

Senior Engineer – Train Control & ATS

Responsible for the efficient and effective support to the Rail Projects Victoria Programme (RPVP). This roles provides key leadership across a range of programme-level disciplines which include: financial governance, legal, commercial and financial risk management, programme planning, control systems, stakeholder and communications and people management.

As a Subject matter expert in Train Control systems, including Automatic Train Supervision (ATS), and their interface to signalling/ CBTC and other network control systems, the role is responsible to review designs relating to the proposed systems and changes to existing systems.

THE LEVEL CROSSING REMOVAL PROJECT The Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) was established by the Victorian Government to oversee one of the largest rail infrastructure projects in the state’s history. LXRP is part of the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority and our projects fall under Victoria’s Big Build. Central to the project is the elimination of 75 level crossings across metropolitan Melbourne by 2025, in addition to other rail network upgrades such as new train stations, track duplication and train stabling yards.

> KEY LXRP PROJECT ROLES: Programme Delivery Manager – LXRP

Project Manager – Signalling

Responsible and accountable for the delivery of Projects within the Level Crossings Removal Portfolio (LXRP). They shall ensure that the Program Managers, Project Managers, Engineers and the other team members involved in the LXRP Projects achieve the goals within the safety, time, cost and quality parameters determined for the Projects.

To provide effective project management of LXRP signalling requirements, drawing together MTM’s needs as a client and assisting the Department of Transport ensuring OH&S, quality, cost, time and scope parameters of the projects are adequately set out and achieved.


Melbourne: Australia’s sporting and culture capital.

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rm OUR FOUNDATION Safety – Our goal is Zero Harm, because every injury is preventable


Project Engineer – Overhead Line Project Engineer – TCMS Project Engineer – Signalling Supervisor – Signalling Technical Lead – Commissioning and Completions Senior Project Engineer - Structures Track & Civil Design Review Engineer Signalling & Overheads Design Review Engineers Maintenance Planning Specialist

» » » » » » » » »

Senior Systems Assurance Engineer Human Factors Advisor Senior Systems Engineer / FRACAS Engineer Project Engineer – OCS / ICT Design Review Engineer - Traction Power Occupation / Possession Planners & Managers Rail Safety Coordinator / Advisor & Rail Safety Managers CBTC / PSD Experts Delivery Manager – Disruptions

INTERESTED? If what you’ve read resonates with your values, experience and career aspirations then we want to hear from you. Successful candidates and their families will be offered sponsorship and be provided with relocation assistance as part of the MTM’s Global Mobility Framework.

To register your interest, contact Kyle MacLean (Talent Partner) on kyle.maclean@metrotrains.com.au with your CV and contact details, or for more information, see:


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