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by rail engineers for rail engineers



RAIL DECARBONISATION The recent RSSB conference on Intelligent Power Networks to Decarbonise Rail launched two competitions for significant funding. ELECTRIFICATION RESEARCH


A review of the latest academic thinking on electrification systems, much of which is already going into service.

Encouragingly, all four key safety assurance positions on the Wales and West electrification project are held by women.


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The past, present and future Richard Ollerenshaw takes a look at the electrification of the UK’s railways.

Safer isolations Negative short-circuiting devices make taking isolations quicker and safer.

Current research on railway electrification systems Pietro Tricoli on the latest academic thinking that is already going into service.

Monitoring overhead lines Martil Loibl and Kevin Dilks describe a German innovation that’s coming to the UK.

Improving safety for trackside innovations George Woollard introduces Scott Parnell’s new ArcoSystem elevated troughing.

News Railtex, high-speed in Africa, London deep tube, Digital Railway.

Prizes offered for rail decarbonisation David Shirres attended RSSB’s conference on intelligent power networks.

Railways and mountains - what’s not to like? Malcolm Dobell visited Italy and Switzerland with the IMechE Technical Tour.

175 years of progress Stewart Thorpe meets the four women who control safety assurance on a major project.

Riding the New Measurement Train Chris Parker takes a trip on Network Rail’s flagship asset inspection train.

Class 769 Flex in action All aboard as the new train commences testing on the Great Central Railway.

Tame the dust Beat Nowrooz suggest possible solutions to the silica ‘ballast’ dust problem.

Shine a light December is the darkest month, just the time for SMC’s new mobile lighting towers.

InnoTrans 2018 - the largest one ever This year 3,062 exhibitors took part. Rail Engineer visited the most interesting.


64 68 70

A GWR heritage signalling success Clive Kessell visits the ‘other’ GWR to see how signalling is done on a strict budget.


Ayr station hotel An abandoned hotel causes partial station closure and disrupts sevices.

Collision at London Waterloo Paul Darlington studies the RAIB’s accident report and discovers lessons to learn.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018


14th International Exhibition of Railway Equipment, Systems & Services

The Hub, Conference & SME Lab

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14 - 16 MAY 2019 NEC, BIRMINGHAM, UK

The show for everyone involved in shaping the future of UK rail



No diesels and no electrification The new East West railway need not be electrified nor have any diesel trains. So says Chris Grayling who considers that, instead, it will have “a completely new generation of low-emissions trains.” The then transport minister, Jo Johnson, echoed this view when he challenged the rail industry to get all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040 as he saw “alternative-fuel trains powered entirely by hydrogen” to be a prize on the horizon. Later, the Minister directed the industry task force set up to meet this challenge that further electrification should not be in the scope of its response. Yet the reality is that hydrogen, the only viable alternative traction with range and performance comparable to diesel, is not suitable for high-powered traction. Due to their conversion losses, hydrogen trains require three times more electrical energy than electric trains. Moreover, with its low energy density, compressed hydrogen requires a fuel tank eight times the size of a diesel tank for the same range. Because of this, few in the industry share the government’s post-2040 rail traction vision of no diesels and no electrification. For example, Rail Freight Group executive director Maggie Simpson noted that, whilst battery and hydrogen “may show promise for lightweight passenger trains, their application for heavy duty freight is at best unproven”. Nevertheless, Johnson was right to stress the need to decarbonise the rail industry. Although railways offer great environmental benefits, UK rail cannot rest on its laurels. For example, whilst hybrid cars are increasingly common, there are currently no hybrid trains on the network. As part of the industry’s response to this decarbonisation challenge, RSSB recently ran a conference to launch competitions offering funding for proposals to develop zero-carbon solutions. However, reflecting the government’s view, this offered no funding

for electrification initiatives. Nevertheless, the conference heard how both HS2 and Network Rail are to specify low-carbon traction electricity supplies. With electric trains comprising 72 per cent of the UK passenger fleet, this offers huge carbon savings. As we report, there were also presentations on the development of battery-hybrid and hydrogen trains. On rural routes that cannot realistically be electrified, hydrogen could offer zero-carbon traction with no harmful local emissions, although it was stressed that this was no silver bullet. The potential to use redundant multiple units to develop such trains is also described by Malcolm Dobell, who recently had the opportunity to try out the Class 769 Flex unit prior to it entering service early next year. Over 150 new rail vehicles were on show at InnoTrans, which, as Nigel Wordsworth describes, had over 3,000 exhibitors in its 41 halls. A wide variety of trains, old and new, were seen on the IMechE Railway Division’s technical tour to Italy and Switzerland. As we report, this was a good development opportunity for the large contingent of younger engineers present. Authorisation of the energisation of the OLE between Didcot and Swindon requires approval from Network Rail’s regional head of engineering and its principal system safety engineer, as well as the leads from assessment and notification bodies. The four women who occupy these senior positions were interviewed by Stewart Thorpe for his feature that considers why women make up only 15 per cent of the railway workforce. This month we focus on electrification with an article by Richard Ollerenshaw that explains how electrification can be delivered in a cost-effective manner, as is done on the European continent. We also have features on safer DC isolations, research into better 25kV AC railway traction supply arrangements and

an initiative to monitor OLE using an in-service passenger train. OLE is just one aspect of rail infrastructure that is monitored by the New Measurement Train, which, as Chris Parker reports, covers 115,000 miles per year. His feature details the train’s capabilities and the challenges of ensuring it runs on every part of every route. No trains ran on the 60-mile rural route between Stranraer and Ayr for two months recently. As we report, this was due to an adjacent dangerous building that continues to cause short-formed commuter services. No doubt, the ScotRail Alliance is doing all it can to restore a normal train service, yet the building is under the control of the local Council. Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt from this episode to avoid any such future lengthy service disruption. Over the past 35 years, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway has laid and re-opened 14 miles of track and five stations. It also had to build four signal boxes and re-equip another. In a feature that describes how the line was signalled as it progressively re-opened, Clive Kessell shows how this demanded creative thinking and bargain basement procurement. Our other signalling feature is a sobering piece by Paul Darlington that is essential reading for anyone involved in signalling projects. This concerns the RAIB report into last year’s derailment at Waterloo. The mistakes that led to this incident, together with similar failings during the Cardiff re-signalling project, could, in different circumstances, have had awful consequences and show the need to relearn lessons from the 1988 Clapham tragedy.



Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018





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Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Railtex 2019, the UK's leading exhibition of railway products and services, has announced that the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) will be presenting leading digital innovation and technology as part of a new programme to be showcased at the event. The DIGI-RAIL project, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, aims to establish a cluster of digital rail demonstrations to showcase long-term innovation and support to SMEs developing digital products and services within the rail industry. The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education will present the DIGI-RAIL project amongst other research and development tools that will support organisations working in the industry’s supply chain. The BCRRE will be exhibiting alongside the Rail Alliance, with the two organisations ideally placed to provide leading support to SMEs in the manufacturing and rolling stock sectors.

Digital Rail will be a focal point of next year’s Railtex, with the Digital Rail Forum taking place to help establish what the future of this technology can look like and achieve. The exhibition will feature a packed programme of CPD-certified events aimed at educating and creating discussion on the future of the industry at a critical time in the UK rail network’s lifespan. Taking place at Birmingham’s NEC during 14-16 May, Railtex 2019 is ideally positioned for organisations situated in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull and Coventry and Warwickshire LEP regions, as well as organisations further afield looking to develop their digital offering.


High-speed rail reaches Africa

coming soon...

As the UK debates the cost of HS2, the time savings in journey times, and whether it's all worth it, Africa has now opened its first high-speed line. On 15 November, the Tangier to Kenitra section of the “Al Boraq” highspeed Tangier-Casablanca line was inaugurated by His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Emmanuel Macron, President of France. For the time being, the high-speed TGV will run on the traditional line from Kenitra to Rabat and Casablanca, albeit at 180km/h instead of the 160km/h limit for local trains. Even so, the reductions in journey times are impressive. The journey between Tangier and Kenitra will be 47 minutes,

rather than the three hours and 15 minutes required for conventional trains – a time saving of two hours and 28 minutes. And the time between Tangier and Casablanca will be reduced from four hours and 45 minutes to two hours and ten minutes. The new line took seven years to build and cost just over two billion euros. Twelve Euro-duplex high-speed trains have been purchased from Alstom, each capable of carrying 533 passengers. Signalling, from Ansaldo STS, is ETCS Level 2.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 RAILWAY INFRASTRUCTURE This issue looks back at the 2018 Christmas works and previews infrastructure projects happening in 2019. Rail Engineer’s expert writers look at what’s involved in maintaining and renewing the railway’s infrastructure and at advances in technology aimed at making it faster, easier and more cost effective. Asset Management, Bridges, Cable Hangers, Concrete, Construction, Drainage, Examinations, Lifting, Modular Systems, Painting, Plant & Equipment, Precast Sections, Refurbishment, Replacement, Rope Access, Scaffolding, Spray Concrete, Surveying Equipment, Surveying Techniques, Tunnelling, Tunnel Boring, Ventilation, Waterproofing.


SIGNALLING & TELECOMS Three of Rail Engineer’s writers specialise in this complex field that keeps the railway running and will provide the key to increased capacity, improved punctuality, quicker journey times and safer running in the future. Reports on the Digital Railway are balanced with others on more traditional forms of control and communications. Barriers, Broadband, CCTV, Displays, Driverless Systems, Equipment, ERTMS, GSM-R, Gantries, Hazard Warnings, IP Networks, Information Systems, Level Crossing Surfaces, Loudspeakers, Operating Systems, Protection Systems, Radio, Resignalling Schemes, Signalling Power, Software, Training, Warning Systems, WiFi


RAILTEX PREVIEW Trains, signalling, asset management, communications, and even station control systems, all have technology at their heart. Developing this technology presents its own challenges. In addition, Rail Engineer looks ahead to the UK’s major rail exhibition at the NEC, with details of companies to see and presentations to attend. Academic Research, Advanced Thinking, Compliance, Innovation, Internet of Trains, Latest Technology, New Working Practices, Novel Techniques, Pilot Studies, Product Approvals, Research & Development, Testing. Railtex: Displays, Exhibitor list, Floorplan, Innovations, Networking, Keynotes, Seminars. Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018




London's deep tube trains now officially ordered Transport for London has finally signed a contract with Siemens Mobility to supply 94 new trains for London's deep tube.

SELF PROPELLED JACK & TAMPER UNIT. Road Transportable RMMM Plain Line/ S&C Tamper. CAPABILITIES Fully remote control S&C and Plain line tamping machine. The JTU is specifically designed to be delivered by road and lifted onto track utilizing either machines on site or a lorry crane. It is fitted with twin Kingshopher tamping banks (four tools each) these can be moved laterally and used independently to achieve access between the various obstructions within S&C and plain line. The lift frame is fitted with clamps which can lift off the rail head using a 50 tonne lift and slew ram with capabilities of 150mm lift and 100mm slew. The machine is compliant in accordance with RIS-1530-PLT Issue.


Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

First deliveries for testing on the Piccadilly line should be made in 2023, with the new fleet entering service in 2024. The state-of-the-art Tube trains will significantly improve the experience of millions of customers, with wider doors and longer, walk-through, fully air-conditioned carriages. In addition, in-train information systems will help all customers plan their onward journey more easily. The initial order is for 94 trains and an associated fleet services agreement covering the supply of spares and whole

life technical support (a value of approximately £1.5 billion). If things go well, it is expected that Siemens Mobility will build trains for all four deep tube lines – the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City, bringing the same benefits from a unified fleet that TfL is currently experiencing on the sub-surface lines with Bombardier’s S Stock trains. Signing of the contract had been delayed due to legal action from unsuccessful bidders Alstom, Bombardier and Hitachi. However, the High Court recently lifted the suspension allowing the signing to go ahead.


Private sector finance for Digital Railway Network Rail is seeking a private sector partner to deliver a major digital railway transformation programme on the East Coast main line (ECML). The successful Railway Systems Integration Partner (RSIP) will be appointed via a framework contract worth up to £45 million over eight years to lead industry in the development and deployment of in-cab European Train Control System signalling between King’s Cross and just south of Grantham. The RSIP will be one of three partners in the programme. Back in August, a process was launched to find a technology provider –

known as the Train Control Partner (TCP) – to work on developing early joint solutions, and in early 2019 the search will begin for a Traffic Management Partner (TMP). The introduction of ETCS on the 100-mile stretch of the ECML will be the first major transformation programme under the digital strategy launched by the transport secretary and Network Rail in May, and endorsed by the wider rail industry and supply chain.

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Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018





The past, present and future A look at electrification of the UK’s railways


tanding here on the platforms of the electrified York station, breathing in a fog of diesel fumes from five diesel trains awaiting departure, it is easy to wonder what went wrong. Indeed, the East Coast main line (ECML) proved that the UK could deliver rail electrification efficiently, with 2,250 single-track kilometres electrified for £671 million (adjusted for 2018) (issue 158, December 2017). The programme took seven years from authorisation to completion and was just eight weeks late compared to the original schedule. In fact, the industry delivered further commuter electrification in Birmingham and Leeds before falling silent in 1995. This happened two years after the Railways Act entered law, which required co-operation between the train operating companies (TOCs) and Railtrack for track access. The TOCs stood to gain the most from electrification, but all of the infrastructure plans were developed by Railtrack, which incurred the costs. And, with franchises similar in length to electrification projects, only truly outstanding business cases like GNER’s Electric Horseshoe (LeedsHambleton Junction electrification) were developed.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Lessons learned First and foremost, the railway is a system. No engineering discipline can be considered in isolation, and neither can the business case. Successful electrification is designed as a system. A decision as innocuous as the choice of supply locations affects everything from route operability (business case) to the number, location, size and temperature of required OLE conductors, which in turn affects everything from tension lengths and maintenance costs to height and strength of structures; which in turn affects visual impact and overturning moment of structures; which in


As a result, passengers enjoyed faster, cleaner, quieter and more reliable electric train services and passenger revenues increased by 30 per cent; rolling stock procurement and maintenance costs were significantly reduced; track maintenance costs were cut as lightweight electric trains replaced heavy diesels - and fuel costs fell too. The industry had demonstrated an ability to safely and successfully deliver efficient electrification. It had a proven, rapid financial case and the teams were wellpracticed. So why, twenty years later, am I standing in a haze of diesel?

The climate was also quite different at that time, with environmental concerns yet to become mainstream and oil prices being still (relatively) modest. Against this background, it was faster and easier in the new structure to buy bigger, more powerful diesels, despite the fact this would only drive cost increases in the long term.

ELECTRIFICATION turn affects numbers of structures, pile lengths and installation rates achievable with construction trains. A butterfly effect of impacts from seemingly unrelated disciplines. From development of capacity and journey time improvements to the procurement of electrification and rolling stock, costs and impacts must be considered as a single system. It is cheaper to make compromises at the design stage than adapt infrastructure to train, or vice-versa. Secondly, project teams must be free, in practice, to implement the most pragmatic, efficient solutions that suit the route and operators in question. The ECML electrification was delivered by an integrated multi-disciplinary team that established close working relationships with the train operators and route. Decisions lay largely in the hands of the people who were responsible for the cost, schedule and disruption of the work. The highly prescriptive and technology-specific nature of current standards, developed separately from the delivery and customer teams, is perhaps the biggest constraint facing UK electrification designers. Thirdly, we must be willing to learn from best practice. The ECML electrification was not an experiment, it was an evolution of proven system designs. With decision-makers accountable for delivery, projects were not used to experiment with wholly new designs, and standards were not changed repeatedly during design. The lessons of previous schemes were learned. Given sufficient time and money, any system can be made to work once, but more complex or difficult to install ideas were not repeated. Importantly, the UK did not have to fund all the learning - successful innovations from across Europe were incorporated and, in turn, the UK exported its own innovations.

What has changed? The fundamentals of rail electrification still hold true and electrified railways are cheaper by all measures. Electric rolling stock is cheaper to buy, maintain and fuel, overall public performance measure (PPM) is markedly improved, journey times fall and track maintenance costs are reduced. The economics in the 1981 DfT/ British Rail Review of Mainline Electrification have improved with rising traffic volumes and, given efficient installation, the business case is stronger than ever. Other factors were not considered in 1981 - the government placed no value on pollution (and UK electricity then was 40 per cent coal fired and just two per cent renewable). Environmental protection is now government policy - by 2020, UK electricity will be 40 per cent renewable and zero per cent coal. Electric railways are trending towards, not just zero-emission at the point of use, but zero-carbon fuel overall. They are the only credible clean, green option for mass transit.

With a more intensively operated network, route capacity is becoming of greater significance. On mixed-traffic railways, electrification delivers capacity and PPM benefits, accelerating faster from stations and climbing hills more quickly. Sadly, such benefits are not captured in business cases reliant on journey time analysis of a single, unconstrained express train, but, when simulating an entire train service, the benefits are clear. The economics of electric rail are stronger than ever, and railways across Europe continue their steady, rolling electrification programmes of typically a few hundred track-kilometres per year. Yet today, on the Great Western main line (GWML), electrification is being de-scoped and electric trains fitted with diesel engines. Rail Engineer reported in November 2017 (issue 157) that the electrification cost had risen to seven times the ECML cost per track kilometre and, with the programme running several years late, it is delivering at half the ECML speed. In fact, the warning signs of cost escalation have been with us since the West Coast Route Modernisation. Capital costs in the UK must be brought back closer to international norms if electric railways are to continue to have a standalone business case, with technology changes offering the opportunity both for reduced costs and improved benefits.

New power for trains Echoing changes in road transport, new energy storage vectors, such as hydrogen and battery, are creating new possibilities for rail. Although hydrogen trains produce no harmful emissions themselves, CO2 and other pollution is released today in the production of hydrogen from petrochemicals, (although still cleaner than diesel). However, production from electrolysis of water is possible, which makes hydrogen another means for carrying electrical energy from a generator to a train, where it can be returned to electricity in a fuel cell. With electrolysis, hydrogen trains require around three times the electrical energy of an electric train for each kilometre travelled. This is due to the energy losses of this cycle, including the energy required to compress hydrogen to very high pressures for storage. Hydrogen stored at 350 bar has only one seventh of the volumetric energy density of diesel and this, combined with its lower energy efficiency than electrification, means it is not a suitable fuel for high-power or long range applications. However, while hydrogen is unlikely to change the economics of the mainline railway, it may offer a new option for rural and remote lines.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018



ELECTRIFICATION Battery trains are not new, Robert Davison built the first battery train in 1839. Siemens introduced a battery/electric locomotive charging from OLE in 1929 and British Rail operated a BEMU on the Deeside railway from 1958, charged manually after each journey. It is the rapid improvements in cost, energy density and power management (improving control of charge, discharge and therefore lifespan) over the past decade that has made them a disruptive technology.

The future of electrification Electrification is being delivered today across Europe at a fraction of recent UK costs. Designers there have the freedom to design the whole system to meet the output requirement most efficiently, combining designs proven elsewhere to keep development cost and risk low, with evolutionary, incremental improvements developed between schemes.

Efficient design and installation

Battery electric cars and buses, however, have reached the tipping point where they are competing on whole-life cost with oil-based fuels, and the pace of development is such that battery EMUs (BEMUs) will undoubtedly play a significant role in UK rail. Working with Sheffield University, Siemens Mobility has been studying the potential of battery trains in the UK for two years, understanding their strengths and weaknesses and the implications for power supplies. BEMU diagrams require sufficient time under the wires (or charging points) to recharge, but, with the electrification of primary route sections (intensively trafficked or high-speed routes), larger areas of secondary non-electrified routes are opened up for BEMU operation. BEMUs act as a benefit multiplier. Most benefits of electrification scale with the number of diesel trains that can be replaced with faster, cheaper EMUs. On a route like TransPennine, core electrification from Manchester to York enables express electric trains to accelerate faster from speed restrictions and reach their maximum speeds on the steep inclines. But many service groups extend across non-electrified secondary lines, preventing pure EMU operation. While diesel bi-modes allow journey-time savings, bi-modes lose major cost reductions of electrification (cheaper train procurement, train maintenance and track maintenance). Worse still, while secondary and rural routes remain non-electrified, diesel trains continue to constrain capacity and performance where they join congested primary route sections. BEMUs enable the benefits of the core electrification to be felt over a much wider area. For example, electrification of the core route section Manchester-Selby/York enables BEMU operation of a long list of extension routes as varied as the complete Transpennine Express network (Windermere/Blackpool/Liverpool-Scarborough/ Middlesbrough/Hull) to city commuter networks such as the Calderdale line and Harrogate loop, delivering most of the benefits of an electric railway. In this way, BEMUs can bring shorter journey times, zero-emission at point of use, cheaper train procurement, cheaper train and track maintenance (albeit not as cheap as pure EMUs) to a long list of communities unlikely to see route-wide electrification. The introduction of electric performance on secondary services helps them clear congested route sections more quickly, improving route capacity, while the reduction in diesel traction improves train performance on routes where a PPM boost is sorely needed.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

An example of this controlled evolution is the Denmark electrification programme. With a ten-year rolling programme and freedom to design, Siemens was able to plan for and deliver highly efficient electrification, avoiding the stop-start workload seen in the UK. Freedom to design allowed proven efficient designs to be combined - for example, Sicat OLE (pictured left) could be used, benefitting from decades of installation experience and continuous improvement, with minimal enforced redesign. This freed effort to focus on those unique features that offered the most benefit. For example, the constrained structure gauge in many locations would have normally required reconstruction. However, Siemens was able to develop a railway-specific surge arrestor that reduced the electrical clearance required and avoided reconstruction of many structures, drawing on proven surge-arrestor technology delivered in other industries. There are promising signs of individual improvements. For example, it was recently reported that Network Rail plans to combine proven technologies to reduce structure reconstruction cost - using railway surge arrestors (developed by Siemens for Denmark electrification, but previously used in other industries), insulated paint (introduced by Network Rail for the LNE route in 2016, but previously used in other industries), and compact insulated underbridge arms (with origins in British Rail Research in the 1970s/80s).

Modern power supply design Traction power connections in 25kV railways have, until recently, been made directly to the electricity supply network through simple transformers, resulting in complex harmonic and phase


sequence challenges. As traction loads have grown and electricity supply continues to decarbonise, connection at 275kV or 400kV has become necessary, restricting the number of feasible supply locations and constraining all subsequent design. Neutral sections required between supply areas prevent energy-efficient parallel feeding. By contrast, 15kV railways use power converters - initially, maintenanceintensive rotating machines, then by the 1980s semiconductor technology began to replace these and, today, modular multilevel converters use the same components and design principals as modern power conversion in the electricity supply industry, motor drives and renewable generators. The use of static frequency convertors (SFCs) pictured above has enabled Siemens Mobility to halve the cost of major electrification works compared to the original standard UK design. However, the benefits are not limited to reduction in cost. The elimination of additional OLE conductors and lineside transformers simplifies OLE construction, reducing both the required track access and visual impact. The controllable output voltage improves acceleration and journey time compared to historic supply technology, and, crucially, supply capacity can be added incrementally as required, where it is required. Perhaps the most exciting advance lies in OLE safety and reliability. The energy released in a typical short-circuit fault (up to 60MJ) can lead to de-wirement and, sadly, each year a number of trespassers suffer electric shock. SFCs limit the maximum fault current, and the combination of simple, fully sectioned protection with Siemens Mobility’s Sitras Plus FastSafe technology enables more reliable detection and faster clearance of the highest consequence short circuits. Disconnecting current up to 40 times faster than historic systems greatly reduces the likelihood of de-wirement and provides a step improvement in safety.

Is it enough? Bringing costs back towards international norms is a big shift, and it will take more than individual improvements to achieve. The UK railway network is intensively utilised with few diversionary routes, track access is expensive and the pause in electrification during the 2000s means there is limited practical experience in the industry. Yet this intensity of traffic means that the financial case for electrification should be stronger in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, given similar costs. The availability of battery EMUs improves this further. There are signs of hope in future projects, where alliances with multidisciplinary design have been brought together under common incentives, with some degree of ability to influence the design at the option selection stage. However, the tendency to impose critical design decisions prior to the start of the design, and the quantity of highly prescriptive standards, continue to constrain the ability to bring costs down to international norms. Too often, the expectation is that proven equipment should be re-engineered to suit UK preferences, diluting the benefit of decades of experience and continuous improvement. To truly demonstrate efficient delivery, a demonstration project is required that is not subject to these constraints. With a simple output specification, and a single organisation accountable for all safety, cost, and delivery, but otherwise free to undertake whole-system design, electrification is possible in the UK at a fraction of the cost of recent experience. And, at efficient prices, the business case for increased electrification of UK rail is the strongest it has ever been. Richard Ollerenshaw is engineering manager (innovation) at Siemens Mobility rail electrification.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018





Safer Isolations I n 1883, Magnus Volk heralded the dawn of a new era in Great Britain with the opening of

Volk’s Electric Railway, which, 135 years later, is still transporting pleasure seekers along

Brighton promenade and is the world’s oldest operating electric railway.

Since then, the use of electricity to power our trains has been ever expanding - initially on London Underground, then with some suburban lines prior to the First World War. Further electrification followed during the interwar years, with large investment by the Southern Railway. This included the world’s first electrified intercity route between Bournemouth and London. In the years following the Second World War, rail electrification in and around London and the South East was further expanded. The 750V DC third-rail system south of the river Thames continued expanding until 1988, and now extends from London to as far as Folkestone in the east and Weymouth in the west. Since privatisation, traffic on this part of the network has doubled, and some of the original equipment and infrastructure is still in use. Most new UK electrification since the 1960s has been 25kV AC overhead line, but, given the scale of the electrification in the south east, the massive capital cost of any conversion means that 750V DC with ground-level conductor rail is here to stay for the foreseeable future. With the increase in passenger numbers, and the age of the infrastructure, one of the biggest challenges in rail operation is the time available to carry out essential maintenance. On the DC routes, this is often even more crucial because of the higher traffic load and wear - all in all, more work to do and less time to do it.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Unlike an overhead system, the conductor rail must almost always be isolated to allow even simple tasks (like replacing a sleeper by hand), which, of course, requires more planning and coordination as well as the services of a strapping team to make sure the power is off and to help prevent inadvertent re-energisation of the associated DC conductor rails. All of which leaves even less time to replace that sleeper!

Strapping for safety So, what does the strapping team do? Once the block is granted, all the sections of conductor rail in the possession are isolated by either the electrical control room or by staffing of the relevant substations. Members of the strapping team then go to the extremities of the block and to key points in between, check by testing to be sure the conductor rail is off, and fit short-circuiting straps between the conductor rail and the running rails before signing off the relevant forms. Only then can works begin.

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ELECTRIFICATION In the event of the conductor rail accidentally being re-energised, the straps that were fitted by the strapping team will create a direct short circuit to the negative return path of the DC system, thereby causing the DC circuitbreakers associated with the isolation to trip immediately, protecting the personnel at the worksite. The strapping team has a key safety role, but its job also carries considerable danger. Not all the tracks near the worksite will be blocked or isolated, so not only is there a significant risk of being struck by a train, but the straps might accidentally be put on a live conductor rail. And there’s also the issue of finding their way in the dark to exactly the right place, in all weather conditions, in both remote country and some fairly hostile urban areas, all while carrying testing equipment, straps, bar, gloves, brush, first aid kit and goggles, without delaying those who are keen to get working as soon as possible.

Short Circuit Strap Application 1. Clean the running rails with a wire brush. 2. Prove test lamps on a known live source. 3. Attach clamps of short circuit strap (SCS) to running rails. 4. When conductor rail has been proved ‘dead’, apply short circuit bar to the conductor rail. 5. Wear insulated gloves to clean with the wire brush the position on the conductor rail where SCS clamp is to be fitted. 6. Apply remaining SCS clamp to conductor rail.

Over the years, the processes have been developed and honed, and it usually runs fairly well, however, it’s far from risk-free. Something better, quicker and safer is needed.

Improved methods This traditional way of strapping is termed a B2 isolation. The safety guide for strap application has six steps - see box. It all takes time and puts workers at risk. Network Rail was under two pressures to make improvements. Its own desire to reduce “boots on the ballast” and keep its workforce in a position of safety at all times was combined with a need to comply, in all respects, with the Electricity At Work Regulations.

Bring in B4 As a first step to automating the process, Network Rail developed the B4 isolation. This uses a negative shortcircuiting device (NSCD) to bond the conductor rails and keep people working on track safe. However, the difference is that, unlike the SCS that has to be connected manually on the track, the NSCD works at the substation by flicking a switch. In March 2014, Network Rail awarded an electrification and plant framework contract to McNicholas (since July 2017, part of Kier Group, a leading infrastructure, buildings, developments and housing group), as well as a similar one for Kent and Sussex. Wessex was subsequently chosen as the pilot area for the ‘Safer Isolations’ programme, with the work to be performed under the framework contract, by McNicholas (now Kier) as the leading contractor due to its extensive experience in delivering power, telecoms and signalling contracts across the rail network. Antagrade Electrical, with its long history of design, installation, testing and commissioning on rail power systems and key Level A resources, was asked by Kier to come up with a detailed electrical design for the new NSCD equipment for B4 isolations. This involved attaching a control panel to each substation, together with fitting the short-circuit equipment. Once the design was proven, the next phase was to improve the speed with which an isolation could be taken still further. Many of the substations were not situated near access points. This meant that, although the isolation process could be undertaken by one individual rather than a team as before, they still had to

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

walk alongside the active railway, often in the dark and maybe for several hundred metres, to reach the local control panel. For this reason, three months after Kier received its contract from Network Rail and enlisted the help of Antagrade on the project, Sella Controls was asked for a communications solution to bring the control panel to the access point. The proposal was to use equipment from Sella Controls’ Tracklink® product range. Andrew Yard, Sella Controls’ engineering lead for the project, explained that this involved using the company’s proven point-to-point (P2P) equipment to provide a working solution. This allows the control panel to be mounted remotely from the substation, connected to it by copper cables running through the troughing alongside the track. The remote panel can therefore be housed at the side of an access point, or a car park, to allow simple and easy operation without having to enter railway property. James Bentley, Antagrade’s project manager, explained that, by providing each of the key DC circuit breakers, or in some cases the entire DC switchboard, with its own negative short-circuiting switch, and installing a control panel in an accessible location (usually by the roadside), the strapping team only needs to drive to the relevant panel(s) and request the control room to open the breakers. Once the power has been disconnected from the relevant section, the local personnel can operate the control panel switches to apply the negative connection via the short-circuiting devices. This then ‘interlocks’, or disables, the operation of the DC Circuit breakers, preventing them from being closed once the NSCDs have been operated. The correct operation of the shorting devices and absence (or presence) of traction voltages are all indicated to the local operator at the control panel.

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ELECTRIFICATION B4 becomes B5 The introduction of B4 isolations was a great success, both on Wessex, where Kier was installing them, and also in Sussex, where Siemens was doing similar work. However, it was on Wessex where the programme was taken to the next stage. A B5 isolation was developed by Kier and Antagrade, bringing a number of short-circuit devices under the control of a single panel that would allow a longer section of the railway to be isolated at once, significantly improving access time. The solution utilises the combination of Sella Controls’ Tracklink RTU, acting as a consolidated control panel (CCP), and multiple Tracklink P2P units to provide the remote operation of NSCD equipment across a number of substation locations. Each CCP has the capability to control up to five individual local panels. There are currently four sections under trial. One application is installed on a section between Staines and Datchet (covering three sites), with the remaining three sections between Guilford and Havant (covering twenty sites). This test route, as well as being a busy railway, is well chosen for other reasons. The substation at Wraysbury, near Windsor Great Park, can only be reached down the railway tracks. Similarly, Datchet substation lies alongside the local golf club, again preventing easy access. A remote control solution is therefore essential, and one that can isolate long lengths of track is a bonus.

The B5 programme in Wessex is an operational trial, with the results to be assessed before a national roll-out. It is not a traction SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) isolation, rather each CCP forms its own discrete network with its associated local panels. B5 is a SIL 0 system (safety integrity level 0 - not technically part of the standard, which starts at SIL 1, but commonly used to classify safety systems that are not required to meet a safety integrity level standard), allowing one person to short, isolate and reinstate. This contrasts with the similar ‘emergency traction discharge’ system on London Underground, which allows a train driver to kill the power in the event of an emergency but needs clearance from a second person before power can be reinstated and is a SIL 2 system. So B5 isolations will make access in the short night-time windows quicker and lengthen the time available for productive work. However, paradoxically, the B4 and B5 equipment, substations and NSCDs, had to be installed without that benefit as it wasn’t yet in place! “Installation of the NSCDs is not, in itself, complicated,” commented Sam Eversfield, Kier’s assistant project manager, “but installing them in a rail setting adds pressure. The work has to be carried out on a Saturday night, within tight time constraints, to allow for the train companies to reopen lines. “The challenge has been in accessing the sites, which are often in the middle of the countryside such as a farmer’s field.” With rail-mounted Kirow cranes being used to lift equipment into position, it all has to work like clockwork.

Ongoing success Network Rail is very pleased with the way the introduction of NSCDs is progressing, both on the Bournemouth and Brighton main lines. Project engineer Peter Roberts, based at Waterloo, reported: “There have been a number of instances where a strapping team has incorrectly installed the straps, not tested before touch, installed the straps at the wrong location on a line, or even on a wrong line, and most importantly, have sometimes suffered serious injury as a result of errors or omissions. And that, of course, is after reaching the strapping point itself, having sometimes walked great distances. “When operating the NSCDs, there is no risk of providing a negative short circuit in the wrong location, or incorrectly. The

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

time taken for a number of sections to be shorted out reduces dramatically. “As an example, there is a trial installation at Ludgate Cellars, where there are fourteen NSCD units. The strap men there has advised that, as a single team, they would require two hours to strap the same fourteen sections using traditional methods. When timed using the NSCDs, they took seven minutes, and that was the first time they used them in anger. They also did so from just within the Substation compound.” Kier, Sella Controls and Antagrade are currently working on 26 B4 sites for Phase 1 and another 36 for Phase 2 of the programme. Phase 1 is due to be completed by the end of March 2019 and will include 198 NSCD units while Phase 2 involves installing 237 of them. Work has so far covered lines from Waterloo going out through Surrey to Hampshire and the first isolation has already gone into service. After all of this hard work, it’s quite possible that B4 and B5 isolations won’t actually last very long. The ultimate goal is to control all of the NSCDs from the central traction-power control desks at the rail operating centres (ROCs), although no doubt the facility for local operation will still exist if needed. Safer Isolations isn’t just a DC project either. Already work is being carried out in Scotland and on Merseyside to see how the lessons learned can be applied to AC traction power as well, but that’s another story...


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Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018







ailway electrification provides faster and reliable train journeys compared to those of diesel trains and a strong reduction of pollution in busy stations and the countryside. However, many national programmes for the electrification of new and existing railway lines have required a substantial investment for the railway infrastructure.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

do not rely on connection to the high-voltage transmission system and allow the integration of renewable power sources and energy storage. The typical power level of heavy railways and even highspeed railways are in the range of 100-500MVA, with individual supply points designed for a peak-power of 50-100MVA, which is compatible with the typical capabilities of mediumvoltage distribution systems. However, innovative railway feeder stations need to be based on technologies that do not introduce any phase imbalance to the distribution network.


Seven ABB Static Var Compensators (SVC) are used on HS1. Six of these SVCs are mainly for voltage support and the seventh is for load balancing.

This is because railway electrification uses AC singlephase power that requires connection to high-voltage transmission lines, which are not always available in the intended places where the railway feeder stations should be located and usually require complicated and extremely expensive modifications of the existing layouts. New AC electric railways are not seen favourably by the transmission operators as they introduce negative phase sequence current and intermittent load peaks that affect the stability of the system, especially for future scenarios where the inertia of the power system will be substantially reduced for the widespread adoption of renewable power sources. There is currently a need to find suitable and cheaper alternatives to traditional electrification systems that

Passive and active methods are available to reduce or eliminate the imbalance. Passive solutions alternate the phases that supply each section of the track. The major drawback of this solution is the requirement of neutral sections ensuring electrical isolation between consecutive sections of the track. V-V, Le-Blanc or Scott transformers can further reduce the imbalance, but they are effective only for specific loading conditions. As a result, they are not ideal solutions for the connection to power distribution grids. Active solutions use power electronics converters operating together with, or in substitution of, the main power supply equipment in the feeder stations. Traditional methods use the power converters as power compensators they inject a negative phase


Active power compensators An established technology is based on Static VAR (volt ampere reactive) compensators (SVCs), albeit they require large filters for the additional harmonics introduced by the thyristor switching. More recently, static synchronous compensators (STATCOMs) have been introduced. As they are switch-mode power converters operating with switching frequencies higher than those of thyristors, they require passive filters relatively smaller than those of SVCs. STATCOMs can be connected to the three-phase grid or the single‑phase overhead line and use a conventional two-level or three-level H-bridge topology. In East Asia, STATCOMs have been used in conjunction with V-V and Scott connected transformers to the phase imbalance of the railway.



sequence current in phase opposition with the one drawn by the railway, so that the current supplied by the utility grid is balanced. More advanced solutions are instead based on replacing singlephase transformers with full-size power converters, operating at either the same or a different frequency of the power grid.

Co-phase and advanced co-phase system An alternative electrification system, called co-phase power supply, is a hybrid solution between a STATCOM and a full static converter. It uses a static single-phase to singlephase power converter and an impedance matching balance transformer, which acts as a three-phase to two-phase converter. The aim of the control system is to inject the appropriate current to filter harmonics and eliminate the negative sequence on the three-phase supply. Unlike STATCOMS, the converter of the co-phase supply can also supply active power directly to the load. At present, a prototype feeder station has been built in China and the trials undertaken so far have shown improvement on the power quality of the supply.

The co-phase system has been further improved into the advanced co-phase power supply in which one threephase transformer, connected to the railway line through the static converter, is added in parallel to the existing single-phase transformer and controlled to supply active power to the trains and to balance the three-phase current on the grid.

An electrical block diagram for a static frequency converter (SFC).

Full-size static converters In this scheme, single-phase transformers are replaced by static converters that convert the three-phase power of the grid into the single-phase power for the railway. The power conversion can be either direct (AC/AC) or with an intermediate DC link (AC/DC and DC/AC). Feeder stations with full-size static converters draw a nearly sinusoidal balanced current at nearly unity power factor. This is the technology widely used for all the countries operating with railway frequencies different from 50Hz. However, it is now becoming attractive also for 50Hz railways for the possibilities of longer feeding distances and better control capabilities compared to traditional feeding arrangements. The static converter has an independent control of the input currents on the threephase side and a regulated voltage on the single-phase side. Therefore, the utility grid can be fully isolated from nonlinear traction loads, like legacy locomotives that use diode or thyristor rectifiers.

3D sketch of an SFC installation.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018





ABB Static Frequency Convertor (SFC) at Wulkuraka for Queensland Rail, Australia. The control of the voltage on the single-phase side also allows the synchronisation of the output voltages of multiple feeder stations, thus creating a continuous overhead line without neutral sections. Therefore, the electrified network would have a feeding arrangement similar to DC railways, where multiple feeder stations simultaneously supply the trains. Static converters also allow active and reactive power sharing, thereby reducing the power ratings of the feeder stations. Additionally, as the output current is monitored, static converters can implement any desired short circuit management scheme, with much reduced short‑circuit current and, consequently, switchgear rating.

Medium-voltage DC electrification

SFC station at Wolkramshausen, Germany.

At the present state of the art, DC electrified lines are already connected to medium voltage power distribution grids, as the DC voltage is generated by a three-phase diode rectifier that draws balanced current with high power factor. However, the level of the DC voltage is limited to around 3kV for the limitation on the maximum short-circuit breaking current of circuit breakers, which in turn limits the maximum capacity of the railway. A higher voltage of the power supply would also

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

pose problems for traditional traction system of the trains, which operates at voltage levels of a few kV. The recent introduction of new multilevel topologies now allows the design of reliable mediumvoltage static converters that could be used for DC railway electrification. The advantages are being connected to a lower voltage drop for the DC operations of the line, enabling longer feeding distances, lower power losses for the lower resistance of the conductors and higher capacity for the lower currents on the line. The main challenges are the need of suitable protection schemes to deal with shortcircuit currents and the need of power electronics-based DC transformers on board of trains to replace traditional

transformers. Both of these are under development, and valuable input can be taken from other research fields, mainly HVDC transmission and medium-voltage DC power distribution. The new concept of medium voltage DC railways would fit very well with a future vision of electric railways better integrated with power distribution networks, especially for the possible interconnection with renewable power sources and energy storage, which typically operate with DC power. Pietro Tricoli is a senior lecturer in electrical power & control at the University of Birmingham and a member of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education.

Part of







elivery of energy to rolling stock through high-voltage overhead lines is the predominant distribution method used on many of the world’s railways. Indeed, this has become the primary choice, particularly on high-speed, high-profile routes. Ensuring consistent contact at the interface between the pantograph on the train and the overhead line is of fundamental importance to almost every aspect of operation. If this contact is broken, so is the energy supply.


To ensure a reliable energy supply, where the carbon strips are in constant contact with the overhead wire, it is important that the pantograph and overhead line specifications are appropriately matched. Furthermore, ensuring that the equipment performs as specified, day in - day out, is of fundamental importance in ensuring smooth and safe running, minimising the costly delays of overhead line (OHL) failures.

Simulation and monitoring



Determining conformance with the design requirements is the first stage of ensuring continuing correct system performance. The initial stage is to perform a simulation of the whole system - train and infrastructure. European standard EN50318 covers simulations of the dynamic interaction between pantograph and overhead line and such a simulation will provide confidence that the current collection system will perform as designed. At this stage, it is also possible to determine the worst-case vehicle configuration. Normally, for multiple units, this usually happens to be when units have been coupled together, resulting in two pantographs being in close proximity. It is possible to define a homologation test strategy for the system and the expected vehicle configuration. Firstly, the test pantograph needs to be suitably instrumented and its ‘measurement system’ calibrated according to European standard EN50317. In Germany, DB Systemtechnik (DBST) does this in its laboratory in Munich, which houses its calibrated test rig. During homologation testing, according to the requirements of various TSIs (technical specifications for interoperabity), including ENE (energy), LOCPAS (locomotive and passenger) and European standard EN50367, on-board engineers monitor the interaction of the pantograph with the overhead line. This testing normally starts with test engineers being located at a test track in mainland Europe, followed by specific route testing in the country concerned. So for the UK, for example, DBST and ESG Rail have been supporting Hitachi Rail Europe with the testing and commission of its new trains for the Intercity Express programme, and this has involved pantograph and OHL testing. Contact forces, accelerations, height and stagger are all monitored, and it is normal to include a speed

Deutsche Bahn’s ICE-S test train is fitted with a system for contact wire inspection very similar to that which will be used by Network Rail. And a test pantograph in DB’s Munich laboratory (Inset). Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018



A test pantograph similar to the one which will be used on the MENTOR test coach.

In-service trains The same technologies can be deployed, in a very similar manner, on passenger trains in service, albeit the equipment is capable of unattended operation without the requirement for operator intervention. This provides a wealth of monitoring data, on a daily basis, simply as a consequence of passenger operations. Collected data is transmitted off-board for data interrogation and analysis purposes. Occasionally, the system’s video image capture and analytics capability is also required. This involves the addition of high-resolution cameras and lighting to enable the system to operate in poor light conditions and at night. The additional benefit here is that the operator gets to make use of analytics software that provides additional data and analysis and is capable of identifying infrastructure anomalies. The true benefits of this monitoring lie in the early detection of vulnerabilities in the catenary system, providing warnings of impending infrastructure failures. This leads to: »» Fewer incidents, leading to improved safety; »» Avoidance of costly and time-consuming repairs to infrastructure and trains; »» Improved passenger services and confidence. One of the most important benefits, and one that is often overlooked, is the ability to ‘learn’ from such events by understanding the root causes of any incidents. Knowing

The illuminated pantograph on the ICE-S test train in Germany. this is essential to the elimination of future and repeat failures of the same type.

New contract At the beginning of November, ESG Rail announced that it has received a new contract from Network Rail for overhead line monitoring. DBST will provide the overhead line monitoring equipment, which has the capability to measure a number of interface attributes, most notably contact force, as well as contact wire height and stagger (lateral alignment). There are also a number of other supporting data channels that will be collected during operation. Initially, the focus will be to deploy two monitoring systems onto Network Rail’s Mobile Electrical Network Testing, Observation and Recording (Mentor) test coach. Network Rail’s asset information services team is responsible for monitoring the condition of the UK’s railway infrastructure and reporting condition exceedances to the route asset managers and maintenance teams. This delivers compliance with standards and supports maintenance planning for safe network operation. Network Rail has a number of dedicated vehicles deployed across the network on a periodic basis, with Mentor dedicated to overhead line monitoring. Following the fitment on Mentor, ESG Rail will then install a single system onto a Class 390 Pendolino unit to cover a specific area of the network. This system will provide data on a daily basis, via normal passenger train service operation. The regular collection and assessment of asset condition data will support Network Rail’s ambition to move towards a ‘predict and prevent’ maintenance approach.

Kevin Hope, principal engineer - mobile monitoring, explained: “As well as enabling a transition to more predictive maintenance regimes, this contract is the starting point for Network Rail’s strategy to use in-service passenger vehicles to make dynamic measurements of the overhead line at 125mph - something that isn’t possible using just Mentor, which is limited to 100mph. In addition, the use of EN compliant systems will also enable commissioning of new OLE infrastructure in accordance with the TSI.” The monitoring system will measure the force between the contact wire and pantograph carbon strips, via high fidelity sensors mounted directly to the pantograph head. All sensors will be subject to a thorough calibration process at DBST’s laboratory in Munich, Germany, before they are deployed in the UK. The programme will see the Mentor systems operational towards the end of 2019, with the Class 390 deployment scheduled for a few months later. While all three systems will be fundamentally the same, additional equipment will be fitted onto the Class 390 unit to allow for the tilting capabilities of this fleet. Commenting on the importance of this new arrangement, Nick Goodhand, managing director of ESG Rail, said: “One of the key infrastructure to vehicle interfaces is the contact between the overhead line and the train’s pantograph. Because traction energy is supplied via this interface, on-going, correct operation is essential for maintaining service performance. Failures at this interface can be catastrophic, with extensive service disruption and significant financial consequences.” “So this is a landmark project, and we recognise the important role that ESG Rail and DB Systemtechnik will play in supporting Network Rail’s asset management team.”

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018


and location system to ensure that the location of the captured data is accurately recorded. Engineers monitor the interaction between the pantograph and overhead line. As part of the testing, they also determine the contact forces between the pantograph and overhead line, as well as the aerodynamic performance in each direction of travel and the directional flow.





Improving safety for trackside installations


cross the UK, the rail network supports over 4.6 million passenger journeys a day and over 20,000 miles of track. As numbers grow year-onyear, delivering a reliable and modern service for today’s ‘always online’ passenger has placed great pressure on the industry. Future success is dependent on the network’s infrastructure to support growth and provide passengers with the online connectivity they crave. With an ambitious programme of railway upgrades underway, the focus is now on installing the latest technology and renewing out-of-date equipment. The construction workforce is critical to achieving this task, and ensuring they remain safe while on site has never been more important.

Power and communications Behind the scenes lies a hidden network of thousands of cables that carry power, data, communications, signals and other vital operating services from station to station and on to the control room. This extensive and complex network of ‘veins’ and ‘arteries’ is the very lifeblood of the railway, running alongside the tracks in a series of enclosed troughs and ducts. Protecting these cables from severe weather, corrosion, damage, and wear and tear is absolutely crucial to keeping the railways running. However, the trackside location means carrying out repairs, upgrades and extensions presents a unique set of problems for the engineers who are responsible for looking after this vitally important network.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

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dig a hole every six metres than it is to dig a trench the length of the route and backfill to the trough shoulder thereafter. ArcoSystem has been measured by customers to be at least five-times quicker to install than other elevated trough systems. For future maintenance, the cables are easily accessible, again reducing the amount of time spent on the trackside and limiting the danger for trackside workers.

Training for the future Keen to develop further ideas aimed at safeguarding construction workers, Scott Parnell launched an initiative to support the training provision in this sector through permanent ‘training installations’ of its elevated cable troughing system

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

at client premises. This, coupled with hands-on training from its experts, offers engineering teams the chance to practise and become familiar with the product in a safe and controlled environment well in advance of the installation phase of a project. The opportunity to get to grips with products and tools free of charge has gone down well in the industry. A permanent client-site installation was used to support engineering teams who were working on the Weaver to Wavertree Signalling Upgrade Project (W2W) in Liverpool. The initiative aims to prepare clients and contractors to deal with the next generation of cable troughing by providing facilities that support their work and underpin their welfare. Companies have found the training facility delivers commercial benefits as familiarity with equipment speeds up the whole construction process - saving money and minimising service disruption. The future success of the industry will depend on its ability to meet customer demands through faster, more connected services. Laying the foundations to support this system will fall to the engineers and construction professionals in the field. Product innovation and training have never been more important as the UK’s railway network strives to meet the challenges of the digital age. Matt Davidson is rail director at Scott Parnell.


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n 30 October, over 150 delegates from the industry and research institutions attended RSSB’s “Intelligent Power Networks to Decarbonise Rail” conference, held at the University of Warwick. This event considered how more energy-efficient, zero-carbon technologies could be developed in response to the former Transport Minister’s challenge to see all diesel only trains off the tracks by 2040. The conference was a platform to launch two research competitions that offered significant funding for projects to decarbonise the rail industry. It opened with an overview of the industry’s sustainability initiatives and the background to the competition. This was followed by presentations on innovative traction power projects and industry stakeholders describing their main priorities, to which sixteen companies gave one-minute pitches in response. Information was then provided about the competitions and other funding opportunities.

No diesels after 2040? Transport accounts for 24 per cent of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Although UK Rail only accounts for two per cent, and is already a low carbon form of transport, there is significant scope for improvement, particularly in respect of local emissions. Traction alone consumes over 700 million litres of diesel and 3,500 GWh of electricity each year, at a cost of over £500 million. In addition, Network Rail spends £60 million each year on utilities for its non-operational estate.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

In February, the then Transport Minister, Jo Johnson, called for diesel-only trains to be off the tracks by 2040. However, his reference to diesel-only trains shows that it is considered acceptable for diesel bi-mode trains to continue operating beyond this date. Andrew Kluth, RSSB’s lead carbon specialist, explained that, in response to this call, an industry task force had been set up which will soon publish the industry’s response. He explained that the

task force aimed to move UK rail to the lowest practicable carbon energy base by 2040, enabling the industry to be world leaders in developing and delivering lowcarbon transport solutions for rail. As part of its work, the task force considered journey types and performance requirements against various traction options as shown in the table. It concluded that a whole system balance will be required between electrification, where it is cost effective, and new traction technologies such as hydrogen and batteries. Transitional arrangements for these new technologies have to be considered and, where no other options exist, significantly more efficient and cleaner diesel will be needed.


FEATURE Low carbon trains Mike Muldoon of Alstom, which already has the world’s first hydrogen train, the iLint, in passenger service, gave the first of three presentations on projects to modify existing rolling stock. The iLint is a hydrogen-hybrid train with a traction battery. As Mike described, “the clever bit was the energy power management system for which the development effort should not be underrated”. To bring this technology to the UK, Alstom is planning to convert a Class 321 EMU to create a UK-gauge hydrogen train in a partnership with Eversholt Rail. Mike emphasised that hydrogen trains are “no silver bullet”, but have a potentially useful role on lines for which electrification cannot be justified where they can exceed the performance, but not the range, of a DMU. Although hydrogen trains can easily be refuelled, to make the best use of the required hydrogen supply and production facilities, it is best to operate them as a small fleet. A significant advantage of hydrogen trains is that they have no harmful emissions, as their only exhaust is water. However, their carbon credentials depended on how hydrogen is produced. Almost all hydrogen is produced by steam reforming, which offers a 45 percent reduction in CO2 compared with diesel. Hydrogen can only be a truly zero-carbon fuel if it is produced by the more expensive electrolysis process using ‘green electricity’, such as wind power. Kevin Blacktop from the University of Birmingham described the Hydroflex train, which is another UK hydrogen train proposition currently under development. He explained that the University had undertaken much research into hydrogen

Alstom's iLint hydrogen powered train. propulsion and, in 2012, produced the UK’s first hydrogen train. This was a 10¼ inch gauge locomotive powered by a onekilowatt fuel cell as the University’s entry in the IMechE’s Railway Challenge. Hydroflex is the subject of an agreement, signed in September at Innotrans, between the University and Porterbrook which will supply a Class 319 for conversion. This will operate on 25kV overhead and 750V DC third-rail and, in self-powered mode, will use a hydrogen fuel cell. Demonstration runs are expected to commence in summer 2019. Angel Trains is developing the Hydrive. This will be a new hybrid train that will have a diesel engine, traction battery and power management control system and which, as David Bridges explained, will offer significant environmental advantages. These include constantly running the engine at its “sweet spot” to maximise efficiency and reduce emissions, regenerative braking, and the elimination of diesel engine emissions at stations. The first Hydrive unit will be a converted Chiltern Railways Class 165 unit that is expected to enter service in October 2019.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Challenges and opportunities To set the scene, representatives from different parts of the industry outlined the challenges that needed to be addressed. From Freightliner, Paul Smart stressed that rail freight faced keen competition from road haulage and so required any dieselreplacement technology to match diesel’s operational characteristics with no increase in size or weight or reduction in payload. Network Rail’s Wendi Wheeler noted that there were limited decarbonisation options, as there is currently no viable alternative fuel source to diesel. She also highlighted the need for traction and nontraction energy storage, for which Network Rail could provide land. In addition, she mentioned the scope for savings at major stations, which are massive energy users, including the deployment of modern metering. Graeme Clark from Siemens Mobility was concerned that rolling stock companies had to invest in the future of a frequently changing, delayed and unstable rail franchising system with no fixed, long term view of rail electrification. Presentations from Porterbrook, First Group and Virgin Trains all stressed the need to reduce traction fuel consumption. Virgin’s Russell Preece noted how driving style affected fuel consumption, whilst Porterbrook’s Chandra Morbey emphasised the need to reduce embedded carbon by minimising the use of spare parts and materials. From First Group, Martin Ward highlighted the need for energy efficiency at depots and noted that the franchise business-case timeframe - seven years or less - made it difficult to justify the cost of decarbonisation measures. Herb Castillo explained how HS2’s electricity consumption would eventually be 60 per cent of that required for all current UK rail traction. Hence the company’s aspiration is to have directly connected, renewable, low-carbon traction supplies











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Please contact Chris Smith or Simon Pickess: Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018



FEATURE and technologies to reduce non-traction energy consumption. HS2 is already in discussion with potential electricity suppliers so as to have time to invest in the required facilities before the high-speed line starts operation.

Cases and pitches In four case studies and sixteen elevator pitches, solutions and expertise were promoted to respond to these challenges. Riding sunbeams to power the 750V DC rail network was the first case study. Leo Murray of Climate Action, an organisation promoting community-level practical projects to tackle climate change, explained how this initiative builds on the success of the Blackfriars solar bridge and Antwerp’s solar rail tunnel. He explained how local solar farms, such as a 4MW installation at Cuckmere, could be connected directly to DC rail network sub-stations via DC to DC converters. This was one of seven identified sites that were estimated as being able to supply fifteen percent of the southern DC network’s annual demand of 1.38 TWh. Solar farms could also power other UK DC traction networks and, possibly the 25kV AC network, for which solar power connection options were being evaluated. The benefits of an internal combustion engine without a crankshaft were explained by Professor Tony Roskilly from Newcastle University in his presentation on the freepiston engine, in which two connected pistons move in a cylinder with compression chambers at each end. Drive and control are by a linear induction motor at the centre of the cylinder. This configuration gives an engine that is 60 per cent smaller and 25 per cent lighter than a conventional internal combustion engine with lower friction and heat transfer losses. It also has better thermal efficiency due to an ability to control the piston velocity profile as well as being

For freight, any new traction must match the operational characteristics of diesel locomotives. easily modified to use alternative fuels as compression ratios and valve timing are software controlled. This concept, which was first proposed in the 1940s, has now become potentially viable with the availability of modern, microprocessor control technology. The University of Newcastle has been working on it for some years and has a £200,000 research grant to use it as a 25kW rangeextender for hybrid electric vehicles. In another case study, Professor Philip Mawby of the University of Warwick explained how Power Electronics UK was using Silicon Carbide (SiC) for lower cost, higher efficiency power electrical applications. His presentation showed that the use of SiC devices is currently saving 10 million tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of eight coal-fired power stations or 1.7 million cars being taken off the road. The advanced multi-fuel technology offered by G-volution enables diesel engines to use lower carbon alternative fuels. Shimon Shapiro explained how his company’s technology enables engines to use a dieselLNG combination of fuels, giving a carbon reduction of 25-70% and a fuel cost saving of 33-44% (according to the G-volution feasibility study). Other fuel combinations,

The two-mile high-speed rail tunnel in Antwerp that has 16,000 solar panels on its roof which produces 3,300 MWh of electricity each year.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

including diesel-bio-LPG, and diesel-biohydrogen, can offer carbon savings of 10-45% per cent, and fuel cost savings of 25-50%. These case studies were followed by short, one-minute elevator pitches from the following organisations: »» University of Nottingham - one of the world’s biggest power electronics research groups; »» Loughborough University - rail vehicle modelling and simulation, control system development; »» Manchester Metropolitan University - power systems, energy storage and forecasting; »» Warwick Manufacturing Group advanced propulsion and lightweighting, technology transfer from automotive to rail sectors; »» University of Chester - carbon capture and utilisation, fuel cell technology, energy control systems; »» University of Birmingham - power system modelling, including large scale power grid simulation; »» University of Sheffield - mechanical expertise including overhead line dynamics, material fatigue and wear at train-infrastructure interface, optimisation of rail operation with energy supply and storage; »» University of London, SellickRail, Dynamic Boosting Systems and Gyrotricity patented electric flywheel; »» Hasler Rail/Sario - accurate measurement of AC, DC or fossil fuel energy consumption; »» Ultra Light Rail Partners - ultra light rail solutions including compressed air and cryogenic engines; »» Unipart Rail - product development for global rail markets; »» Perpetuum - expertise in wheelset life extension and maintenance optimisation;

FEATURE »» FTI Communication Systems telecommunications networks; »» Clean Power Hydrogen - advanced electrolyser technology; »» Global Gas Logistic Solutions lightweight efficient fuel containers; »» Ricardo - low carbon propulsion hybrids and storage.

Unlocking funding The competitions announced at the conference will have several winners, as the intention is to make funding available to various projects that meet the competitions’ requirements. The £1 million RSSB competition is for feasibility studies and demonstrator projects. These projects must address one of three key challenges: »» High speed train power - carbon efficient traction energy, reduction of auxiliary energy consumption and energy harvesting; »» Freight traction power - carbon efficient traction energy and improving diesel traction to reduce carbon; »» Infrastructure to support operations - energy storage and distribution including studies on scaling up current technologies and cross modal integration. The competition proposals need to be submitted by 9 January 2019. RSSB will announce the winning bids in February and produce an initial report on the findings of each successful project in March 2020. RSSB is also co-funding a scheme for rail carbonisation and energy efficiency initiatives organised by Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). KTPs match companies with an academic associate that has the required research expertise and facilities. For the targeted rail decarbonisation KTPs, there are three funding rounds which close on 12 December 2018, 6 February and 20 March 2019. Although the Innovate UK KTP call follows the same three challenges as the RSSB collaborative R&D competition, its scope also includes additional areas

Range extender concept with cutaway free piston engine. such as non-high-speed trains and more efficient electric trains, both of which are specifically excluded from the RSSB competition. Finally, the conference heard how Innovate UK was running a “First of a Kind - round 2” competition on behalf of the Department for Transport. Entitled “Demonstrating tomorrow’s stations and a greener railway”, for which a total of £3.5 million is available, the closing date for this was 28 November. This competition will provide successful entrants with funding to deploy a well-developed technology in a rail environment.

The missing solution It was good to see the many decarbonisation initiatives presented at this conference. Some of these are already delivering significant carbon savings, whilst others will be powering trains in a year or so. Of these, the Class 165 hybrid being produced by Angel Trains is a welcome development, as it shows the rail industry is starting to follow the automotive sector’s lead in hybrid technology. RSSB’s competitions will no doubt accelerate such developments and it will be interesting to hear of the winners’ proposals early next year. Because these competitions form part of the industry’s response to the government’s call for an end to dieselonly trains from 2040, they are bound

by government requirements. Reports indicate that the government does not wish the industry’s response to include further electrification, despite this being the only alternative to diesel for highpower traction requirements. Initiatives for more efficient electric traction are also excluded from the RSSB competition. This seems odd as the electric trains that comprise 72 percent of the UK passenger fleet offer significant potential for carbon savings. At the conference, it was explained that electrification was covered by Network Rail and Railway Industry Association initiatives. As an example, Network Rail’s Wendi Wheeler advised that the company is to specify the requirement to minimise CO2 in is contracts for electricity supply. The exclusion of electrification from these competitions reflects the UK Government’s view which seems to be that electrification is just too expensive and the solution is better trains without appreciating the space constraints that limit the power of selfpowered trains. Furthermore, as Graeme Clark of Siemens Mobility pointed out, international rolling stock companies must invest in the future of UK rail despite frequently changing requirements with no stable, long term view of rail electrification. Indeed, the boom and bust nature of UK electrification is one reason why it has proved so expensive. The UK government is right to require the rail industry to accelerate its rail decarbonisation initiatives. In this respect, the competitions launched at the RSSB’s decarbonisation conference have a valuable part to play. Yet the government also needs to understand just how its policy decisions affect the industry’s ability to decarbonise.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018




Railways and Mountains What’s Not to Like?


round thirty engineers participated in the IMechE Railway Division’s recent Technical Tour (the tour) to northern Italy and southeastern Switzerland. The participants included experts from main line, metro, trams and metre gauge railways, as well as academics and a large contingent of younger engineers, close to the start of their careers. Companies represented were, Angel Trains, Arup Australia, Atkins, University of Birmingham, CPC Systems, East Midlands Trains, Eversholt Rail, Montreux Oberland Bernois SA, Network Rail, Rail Delivery Group, RSSB, SNC Lavalin, South Western Railway, Transport Scotland, Unipart Rail, and Waxwing Engineering. The mix of people and visits led to a great deal of discussion with learning for all, both young and old. The tour is notable because it allows people to access facilities that would not normally be open to them as individuals. It has a great deal of prestige, allowing the members of the group to talk to senior people, both hosts and delegates. Over eight days, the group enjoyed technical visits and a number of journeys on technically challenging or historically interesting railways, ranging from 10km/h funiculars to 300km/h high-speed trains. The table outlines the programme and the highlights are described below.

Touring the works at the Abula tunnel. Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Pistoia heritage Deposito Rotabili Storici, in Pistoia, one of several establishments of the Fondazione FS, is a large facility for storing, maintaining and renovating heritage locomotives and rolling stock. The visitors were privileged to be guided around the facility and some of its more notable vehicles by one of the company’s experts, who had come specially from Venice. The group learned about the history of Italian railway development in the region, especially the line through the mountains between Bologna, in the Po plain, and central Italy. There have been three lines - the original mountain


railway line, a lower level line with more tunnels and, most recently, the high-speed line that is mostly in tunnel. The original line had gradients of up to 2.6 per cent (1 in 38.5). This was challenging for the steam locomotives of the day and, over 90 years ago, the advantages of electrification were identified. The railways in northern Italy adopted the three-phase system, initially 3.3kV 15Hz and later 3.6kV 16²⁄³Hz. The socalled Porretana was electrified with this system in 1927. Although it required two overhead contact wires and the rails as the third conductor, it also allowed the use of AC machines and avoided the cost and inefficiency of large rotary AC/DC converters that were vehicle-mounted or installed lineside.

FEATURE Technical Tour Programme October 2018



Saturday 6th Sunday 7th

Montecatini - Florence Montecatini - Pistoia - Florence - Montecatini Deposito Rotabili Storici Montecatini - Pistoia - Bologna - Milano - Hitachi Italy

Tour of Florence tramway

Monday 8th

Tuesday 9th

Milano - ATM - public transport operation Alstom Italy

Wednesday 10th

Milano - Bergamo Milano - Bergamo Tram, Wegh

Thursday 11th

Milano - Tirano - Pontresina - Bergün

Friday 12th

Bergün - Preda - Chur

Saturday 13th

Chur - Landquart

Control of the AC machines was far from trivial and included the use of pole switching and series/parallel connections to start the locomotives and to control the tractive effort. These schemes involved liquid rheostats (electrodes that are raised or lowered into brine to control the starting of slip ring motors), which sounded really scary to the modern audience of largely mechanical engineers! Later on, the Italian railways adopted DC traction, operating at 3kV, delivered at first by rotary converters and later by mercury arc rectifiers, until modern diode rectifiers became available. The original mountain line was converted to DC operation in 1935, after the low level line was opened in 1934, but it was as recently as the mid-1970s that the last three-phase line was converted to DC. A number of electric, steam and diesel locomotives were on show, the latter with electric and hydraulic transmission. Everyone learned something from the principles and features of the steam locomotives to the water rheostats.

Rail vehicle restoration. Construction, proving and testing of aluminium rail vehicles; standard gauge mountain railway; high speed train Metro construction and tunnel boring machines; electrical equipment overhaul Tram maintenance, concrete sleeper manufacture, slab track technology Adhesion mountain railway, Swiss style, including street running and voltage change. Origins of the RhB and construction of the Albula tunnel Installation of continuous ATP on RhB; overhaul of metre gauge traction and rolling stock

Those delegates who work in the UK heritage sector were jealous that the Deposito has its own wheel lathe, capable of turning steam engine driving wheels.

Hitachi The following day, the group visited Hitachi Pistoia, where senior executives kindly provided an introduction to Hitachi and the group’s Italian facilities before escorting the group around the factory. The Pistoia site specialises in the construction of aluminium carbodies and the assembly of complete vehicles using components manufactured at other sites in Italy or elsewhere. Amongst the trains seen were some of the last bi-mode Class 802 units for Great Western Railway, Class 385 EMUs for ScotRail, driverless metro vehicles for Taipai and some very stylish double-deck Caravaggio EMUs for Italy. Hitachi described the virtues of friction stir welding, which is currently carried out solely in Japan but which is due to be installed at Pistoia over the next 12 months.

Class E626 electric locomotive preserved at Deposito Rotabili Storici, Pistoia. This design dates from 1927.

Other activities seen included the renovation of the ex-Dutch/Belgian high speed Fyra V250 train for use in Italy, and the tour concluded with a visit to the climatic chamber and the structural test facility for carbodies and bogies. Again, this visit was truly fascinating for all, especially those who had never seen rail vehicles being built before.

Milano Following the Hitachi visit, the group travelled on an Alstom Coradia Meridian EMU, which had to work really hard over the original mountainous line to Porretta Terme, where we changed to a Stadler FLIRT to Bologna Centrale. Arriving at Bologna Centrale at ground level, one has no idea that there is a huge four-track high-speed station underneath, from which the group travelled on a 300km/h Frecciarossa train to the huge, 24-platform Milano Centrale. ATM, Milano’s public transport operator, hosted a visit to one of the construction sites for metro line 4. ATM’s representatives were from its engineering company, which plans and manages the construction of metros, railways, LRT, airports, streets and tramways in Milano and also sells its services around the world. The group was introduced to the public transport scene in Milano and Italy in general. Italians love their cars - the overall proportion of cars in Italy is about 70 cars per 100 inhabitants. 10 years ago, the proportion in Milano was lower, at 63 per cent, and this has been reduced still further, to 52 per cent today, through the active development and promotion of public transport.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018




Map of Milan Metro. (Inset) Tunnel boring machine at Tricolore station.

Cross section of a suburban (left) and city-centre station.

The modal split is approximately 57 per cent by public transport in the city area, which is exceptional by Italian standards. Moreover, the number of new driving licences has dropped by 50%. Public transport use rose to a record level during the 2015 trade Expo, but this record was beaten in 2017 with a total of 750 million journeys; up nearly nine per cent from 2012. There are currently four Metro lines - M1, M2, M3, M5 - with line M4 under construction. M1, M2 and M3 are conventional metro lines with 105-metre-long trains. M1 uses a third/fourth rail 750V DC system, similar to London, whereas lines M2 and M3 use overhead supply at the same voltage.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

M5, and M4 once it is opened, are designed to operate on a somewhat different principle. Platforms and trains are shorter approximately 50Â metres - and the trains run at 90-second headways. M4 will also use 50-metre trains operating at 90-second headways, but with the ability to reduce to 75 seconds. This provides almost the same capacity as a conventional metro operating longer trains at 2-3 minute headways, but allows for smaller and easier to build stations, which are therefore much cheaper - a 30 per cent reduction in civil engineering costs was claimed. The lines are/will be driverless with platform screen doors.

The IMechE group was able to visit the site of the forthcoming Tricolore station and see two tunnel boring machines being assembled. It was explained that earth pressure balance machines are being used to cope with ground conditions. Although shorter stations are a lot easier to build, there is still not much available space in central Milano. They will therefore be using two forms of construction for the stations, all of which will have island platforms with a central circulating area. In the suburbs, the excavation for the station box is the full width of the station whereas, in the central area, the excavation will be much narrower, confined to the central circulating area between the tracks. At tunnel level, cross passages are mined and the running tunnels enlarged to form platforms.


Alstom has a facility in Sestro, a suburb of Milano. This plant had been manufacturing electrical equipment for Alstom Italy, but is now running down manufacture and is becoming a component overhaul facility. The plant is also the maintenance control centre for some 600 Italian trains that Alstom maintains. The group watched as control technicians monitored the status of hourly downloads from their trains.

Bergamo A journey to Bergamo enabled two visits. The first was hosted by the city’s public transport operator and included a visit to the tram depot. The current tramway runs from the main railway station to the community of Albino using the track bed of a railway that closed in 1967. It is standard gauge, double track, 12.6km long and serves communities with 220,000 inhabitants in total. It uses 750V DC overhead, has 16 stops, seven of which are interchange stops with over 700 parking spaces, and has 32 level

crossings. There are 14 trams, of which nine are used in peak service, and they are low floor throughout. Unusually, the system uses red and green colour light signalling and it was mentioned that there has been some confusion between tram and car drivers. The depot has a 12-track stabling shed and a four-track maintenance shed with a wheel lathe, lifting and workshop facilities. Trams were originally maintained by their supplier, AnsaldoBreda, but maintenance was brought in-house to gain better knowledge of the tram in order to improve the management of these expensive assets. The trams are 32 metres long with five sections and three bogies, two of which are motored. For those engineers who had not seen under a tram before, the individual resilient wheels with no axles were a surprise. The Network Rail engineers were particularly interested in the depot track layout that includes some

incredibly tight radius curves, below 20 metres, although the minimum on the main route was 25 metres. Considerable time was spent examining the long cast points fan, where only the “high rail” was equipped with switch rails, and the lubrication system. “Riding the train or tram” is as important to the Railway Division as visiting control centres is to the IRSE and, following a tram ride, the group’s second visit was to the WEGH concrete sleeper factory to learn about their manufacture and the technology applied to the design of slab track. This included work to develop repair techniques for slab track damaged by derailments or other incidents. The day ended with a visit to Bergamo’s Città Alta (High Town), appropriately on two funiculars, neither of which conform to the traditional system of two cars that counterbalance each other on the end of a single rope. The lower funicular uses two independent cars, each on a single track with a counterweight system below the machine room at the upper station, while the higher level funicular features a single car connected to a top-tobottom cable loop.

(Left) AnsaldoBreda trams at Bergamo. (Right) Cast small radius fan in Bergamo's tram depot. Note only the first switch, nearest the camera, has a right-hand switch rail.

Demonstration of concrete slab track and fixings at Wegh Group factory.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018






RhB Bernina line train climbing one of the many spirals as it gains height.

(Left) RhB ABe 8/12 Allegra unit in Landquart works. (Right) Bergun station.

The journey from Milano to Bergün in Switzerland was effectively another visit! The Italian part of the journey was through a very scenic part of Italy - substantially alongside Lake Como. At Tirano, the group joined a Swiss Rhätische Bahn (Rhaetian Railway, RhB) train for the scenic journey over the railway’s Bernina line. The RhB is metre gauge and the Bernina line climbs just over 1, 800 metres from Tirano (430 metres) to Ospizio Bernina (2,253 metres) with gradients of up to six per cent using adhesion only. The line, famous for the loops used to help gain height, the most impressive being on viaduct Brusio, is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The group travelled in a 40-50 year old coach in excellent condition, with large opening windows, much appreciated by the photographers. Indeed, even the newest air-conditioned coaches with panoramic windows have some areas equipped with opening windows for tourist photographers.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

A typical train on this route is a Stadler dual-voltage (11kV 162/3Hz, 1000V DC) three-car unit with eight out of the 12 axles motored and a combined output of 2,600kW on AC and 2,400kW on DC, with a peak tractive effort of 260kN. These are known as Allegra sets and can usually be seen hauling four or five trailer coaches. Indeed, it is not unusual to see passenger trains with freight vehicles attached, most often tankers and open wagons loaded with big tree trunks. Friday included a visit to RhB’s Albula museum, illustrating the challenges of building and operating railways in mountainous conditions, and a visit to the work site of the new Albula tunnel, which was extensively described in issue 166 (August 2018). Many of the group took a 90-minute walk from the tunnel workings

to Bergün, with an opportunity to view the many bridges and spiral sections on the line, all in excellent short-sleeves weather. Just two weeks later there was deep snow (pictured above).

Landquart The final visit was to the RhB workshops at Landquart (16km from the railway’s headquarters in Chur). There was a fascinating talk about RhB’s approach to installing continuous train protection, using some of the principles and components of ETCS, but tailored to the particular needs of Swiss metre gauge railways. RhB is the lead organisation for the specification of continuous train protection on Swiss narrow gauge railways, many of which run intensive services on single-track railways with passing places.




The timetable often depends on trains approaching the passing loops at the same time. However, in many of the passing loops, the signal protecting access to the single track is located quite close to the points and the loops are often not long enough to provide the length of signal overlap and flank protection that UK signal engineers would expect. Figures of 20 metres and, sometimes, zero metres, were mentioned. The current RhB signalling system includes a system of train stops using track magnets, but these are located at signals and are clearly no help if a train passes at danger a signal with little or no overlap. The continuous ATP uses Euro balises, both with fixed data (speed limits) and variable data (signal aspects) to provide information about the route ahead, very similar to ETCS Level 1. The train driver inputs the type of train and its length. This basic approach provides a safe system, but RhB has identified timetable issues with the basic system. For example, the system might inform the train that the next signal is at danger. As a result, the train driver would have to keep within an

ATP braking curve as the train approaches that signal. In the meantime, the signal might have cleared, but the train would have to continue to brake until it passes the next balise, at the signal position. To cater for this situation, RhB has added loops to extend the range of critical balises, so that the train may be released from the braking curve earlier. In addition, RhB told the visitors that it will be installing the system on the entire network (over 1,000 signals and 120 vehicles) for approximately 60 million Swiss Francs (ÂŁ46 million) and plans to complete the deployment by 2022. Both the novelty of the system and its relatively low-cost installation caused a great deal of interest from those of the group involved in signalling, especially the representative from Transport Scotland.

As a footnote, RhB mentioned the challenge of the sections of dual gauge track they share with the SBB (Swiss Federal Railway), which also has a legacy system and is installing ETCS. For a time, some sections of this track might have four ATP systems! The visit then moved on to the rolling stock workshops that carry out routine and heavy maintenance on locomotives, multiple units and coaches. The group saw some vehicles that had recently arrived from the manufacturer, 40-year-old equipment and a serviceable heritage locomotive over 90 years old (already equipped to read ATP balises). Many of the features of the works and the rolling stock within were unusual to UK eyes. For example, the works itself has been extended over the years to accommodate multiple units

Traditional RhB series 1 trailer coach, approximately 50 years old awaiting painting.

Landquart depot turntable and roundhouse. Note two tracks on the turntable and that the overhead catenery converges on the centre of the turntable.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018


FEATURE RhB snowblower.


Historic vehicles. Nearest the camera, one of three 1920s restaurant cars being returned to front line service; a red trailer car - approximately 50 years old and three 1930s ex Montreux Oberland Bernois Pullman cars.

and the turntable that serves the works’ roundhouse has been modified to include a second, curved track to allow trains longer than the turntable to access their maintenance shed. The team saw locomotives and carriages still in front line service that were over 50 years old and one of three restaurant cars dating from the 1920s that have been extensively modified to allow use in push-pull mode on the RhB’s prestigious Bernina Express. In another part of the works, rotary snow blowers were being serviced ready for the winter, and there was a long line of exceptionally smalldiameter wheels used on the wagons of the car-carrying trains that operate through the Vereina Tunnel (at just over 19km, it is the world’s longest metre-gauge tunnel). The wagons themselves cannot be transported to Landquart unless they have their roofs removed, as they would otherwise be out of gauge. There were very many aspects of the RhB that were new for the visitors

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

and illustrated to all participants that there are more ways to do things than might be allowed in the UK. Trains over 130 metres long running down the street in Tirano was one example, as was the final surprise of the trip - the Chur-Arosa line running though the streets of Chur powered from an 1 kV 162/3 Hz overhead supply. Once the visit to the RhB was over, the last leg of the journey was on a German ICE1

train to Zurich Hauptbahnhof, followed by a well-earned beer on a Rundfahrt on the lake. Participants in the IMechE Technical Tour would like to thank Felix Schmid and Bridget Eickhoff, who organised and led the tour; all the group’s hosts in Italy and Switzerland, the event’s sponsors: Angel Trains, Eversholt Rail, Manchester Engineering Consultancy and Unipart Rail, and Liz Turner at Ffestiniog Travel who organised the hotels and travel.


Grosvenor House Park Lane, London

Hosted by: ANDY MELLORS Chair, Railway Division Keynote speaker: ANDREW HAINES OBE Chief Executive, Network Rail

Sponsored by

Improving the world through engineering




175 years of

progress E

lectrification of the Great Western main line (GWML) reached a new milestone at the end of October when, following the installation of overhead electrical equipment from Didcot Parkway, the first revenue service operating under electric power pulled into Swindon station. Once timetable changes are implemented in 2019, passengers will enjoy more frequent, faster services from Swindon into London Paddington thanks to Great Western Railway’s state-of-the-art Class 800s now running under wires. By Christmas, Network Rail has said that the line will be electrified all the way to Bristol Parkway and, by November 2019, it is aiming to electrify the GWML to Cardiff. Route managing director Mark Langman said that electrification to Swindon represented a “significant milestone” that will provide a major boost to the historic railway town and its economy - a win for passengers and a win for locals.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Changing times Electrification forms a key part of the biggest upgrade to the GWML since it was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 1840s, when steam locomotives ran through the great towns of the South West. Times have changed, and more than the means of traction. Following the recent departure and subsequent replacement of the notified body (NoBo) lead, all four key safety assurance positions in the £2.8 billion Wales and Western electrification project are filled by women - an entirely different cause for celebration. Like many safety critical sectors, railways have stakeholders - governments, regulators and passengers who all expect a degree of third party assurance on issues related to safety and quality. Therefore, authorisation of the project’s infrastructure for use by passenger trains is not possible without Network Rail’s Jane Austin, the region’s head of engineering, and Jo Griffiths, principal system

FEATURE safety engineer, as well as representatives Carolyn Salmon, assessment body (AsBo) lead, and Daniela Phillips, NoBo lead, both from independent body Ricardo Certification, giving the green light. More than 175 years ago, none of the project job roles would be filled by women, never mind four of the most important. Overseeing the approval of complex systems in a safety critical environment means the four are understandably very busy, but, for one hour in October, the quartet sat down for an (almost) uninterrupted discussion with Rail Engineer to talk about the project’s progress, their careers and what it’s like working in a traditionally male-dominated world.

Invisible barriers From engineers to train drivers and project managers, across the industry more and more women are entering the rail sector, but the numbers are still low. Figures from Women in Rail reveal that women make up around 16 per cent of the sector’s workforce, with an even smaller number in senior positions. For example, of Network Rail’s 431 employees in its highest salary tier Band 1 (£78,624£186,486, according to data from 2017) only 66, or 15 per cent, are women, including Jane Austin. Nevertheless, Jane, Jo, Carolyn and Daniela are adamant that there are no obstacles to women entering and finding success in the rail industry. “The only time I’ve been prevented from going on site was when I was pregnant‚” explained Jo, who has worked abroad, started a family with two children and has become a chartered engineer and a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) since the turn of the century. “If you know what you want to do, and you know where you want to go, you will find a way and make the rest of your life happen with it.” Jo, who admits she has taken “the most vanilla” route of the four, graduated as a civil engineer 18 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. After building wastewater treatment works for construction firm the Miller Group, she joined Atkins

L-R: Jane Austin, Daniela Phillips, Carolyn Salmon and Joanna Griffiths. Rail as a graduate designer and then left for Network Rail’s assessment management team in the Midlands route. Following the Great Heck rail crash of 2001 - the country’s worst rail disaster of the 21st century, when a land rover crashed down a motorway embankment onto the railway line, causing a highspeed train accident - Jo was tasked with risk assessing all of her region’s bridges. She then returned to Atkins before taking up the role she occupies today. “When I started working in rail, I assumed it would be this male dominated world, and that they wouldn’t take me seriously,” added Daniela, who studied politics and wanted to work for the European Union before she fell in love with rail. “I’ve been so lucky; I’ve never once experienced that. “If you know your stuff, then they respect you regardless of whether you are male or female.” On her journey from university to Ricardo, Daniela has worked for the Office of Road and Rail, the European Railway Agency - looking after northern European, Scandinavian and Eastern European countries in the cross acceptance team – Lloyd’s Register (now a part of Ricardo) and Steer, where she recently re-wrote all of the technical standards for the Department for Transport in case of a no-deal Brexit situation. The only non-engineer of the group, Daniela then joined Ricardo. Carolyn’s story is completely different once more. She started her career as a mathematics graduate, working as a safety engineer across rail, nuclear and avionics for the likes of Lloyd’s Register,

ERA Technology (where she became the operations manager for the safety and EMC group), RINA Consulting and now Ricardo. A chartered engineer and mother of two, Carolyn said that her employer was flexible when she had two young children, allowing her to go down to a three-day working week for 12 years. She only returned to full-time work when she was offered a managerial position. “It was a bit of a juggling act sometimes,” she said. “But it meant I never gave up my career.”

Perceptions and unnecessary pressures None of the four women said they feel being a woman in the rail industry has held them back, although they all agreed there is a perception that they have to be better to succeed, aided by some unhelpful comments. “You feel like you have to be better, you feel like you have to prove yourself,” explained Jane, a chartered engineer and fellow of the ICE. “I can remember being pulled into someone’s office and they sat me down and said: ‘Jane, you’re the first girl at this level [Band 1], please don’t let me down.’ “I think as women, potentially we feel a little bit more pressure than men - but I don’t know, because I’m not a man.” Jane, the final ‘key player’ when it comes to assurance of the Wales and Western electrification project, left school aged 16 to become a draftswoman. She re-took her O Levels at night school and attained an Ordinary National Certificate and then a Higher National Certificate. At the time, she worked on non-rail structures until her boss advised her to pack it all in, to

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018




head to university and obtain a degree. Jane said she initially thought it was “a silly idea” but, aged 21, came around to it to study civil engineering for three years, finishing with first class honours despite leaving school with just one O Level. Spells at Readymix Concrete followed before she joined British Rail’s management trainee apprenticeship scheme in 1992 as the only woman on the programme, the start of a long relationship with the infrastructure owner. Moves to Railtrack and Network Rail followed, working as an assistant resident engineer, resident engineer, assistant project manager, senior programme engineering manager, head of track for track renewals and switches and crossings and now head of engineering, a role she has held for the past six years.

Encouraging women to join rail The issue of a lack of women in the sector isn’t the result of barriers and a lack of opportunities, the group said, but through not encouraging enough girls to take up science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects from an early age. According to Women in Science and Engineering data from 2014, the overall proportion of girls doing STEM subjects drops off at A-level, with lower numbers of females compared to males being entered for all STEM subjects, except biology.

“You can’t attract more women if more women are not going in to do the subjects in the first place”, said Jo. “The math just doesn’t add up.” A key element to encouraging a greater take up is through tackling the misconceptions people have of the industry and what an engineer looks like. Jane said she recently welcomed a secondary school teacher, who had been given the role of careers development for engineering, into her team for a week, to plug the huge knowledge gap they had of the profession. “We need to somehow help the education department in the fact that not many teachers have ever been engineers, so, therefore, are they really promoting it?” she said. “The point is, I don’t think our younger generation really understand what these jobs are, and what’s available to them, because it seems we don’t get any of that when they’re going through school. “They should realise that, actually, it’s not a dirty, horrible, wet, vile world out there, because you can do all different types of engineering. You can be on a building site, or you can be on a nice warm office. “It’s not just girls, it is girls and boys because we need more engineers. So it’s about how we encourage both sexes, really, to become engineers, because it’s still not thought of as a great career opportunity - but it’s a fantastic one.”

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Jo, who is a STEM ambassador at the Swindon City club of the ICE, summed up the challenge succinctly: “How do you know you want to be an engineer if you’ve never even heard of the word?” Between the quartet, they have been involved in the rail industry for almost 80 years and, in their experience, there is nothing stopping women from succeeding. Jo, who admits there are still challenges to overcome - she often answers the phone to someone assuming they’ve reached the wrong person, because of her unisex name - added: “Male-dominated does not equate to female-does-not-succeed.” “If you’re good at what you do, people will see that,” concluded Jane. As the hands on the clock face reached the hour mark, the four dashed off for an important decision-making meeting that would lead to Swindon welcoming the first electric, passenger train. In Victorian Britain, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was one of many pioneers who led a wave of great change during the Industrial Revolution, forever altering the face of the country’s landscape. Jane, Jo, Carolyn and Daniela, through their work on the biggest upgrade to the GMWL since Brunel, and as great role models for women in rail, are helping to do the same in modern day Britain.





New Measurement Train


etwork Rail, as the infrastructure owner of Britain’s railways, constantly monitors the condition of its assets, particularly its 20,000 miles of track. One of the ways it does this is by using a fleet of inspection trains and vehicles, usually retired passenger stock fitted out with gauges, monitors and sensors of various sorts. Flagship of this fleet is the New Measurement Train (NMT), although, since it has been in service for the last 15 years, it’s hardly new. Affectionately known as the Flying Banana, due to its distinctive yellow livery, the NMT is equipped with the newest equipment, high-tech measurement systems, track scanners, and a highresolution camera. A converted Intercity High Speed Train, the NMT covers 115,000 miles in a year and will capture around 10TB of image data every 440 miles. Travelling at 125mph, it identifies faults quickly and accurately, helping Network Rail to keep the railway safe because it can discover problems at an early stage. Engineers can then make repairs or plan maintenance to prevent serious incidents, such as derailments. To see what it can do, Rail Engineer was invited to join the NMT at Birmingham International station for a run to Northampton and back to Birmingham New Street.

The full array of screens in the development coach. Collecting and processing data Steve Quinby, Network Rail’s head of delivery for data collection, and his team operate a variety of vehicles that examine the railway’s infrastructure in a number of different ways. In all, there are currently some 64 vehicles, making up three different trains. The responsibilities of the Data Collection team begin, perhaps rather obviously, with data collection, “just as it says on the tin”, making use of a series of different infrastructure monitoring systems on the vehicles. These systems are all linked to highly accurate locational positioning systems which utilise GPS, inertial navigation and other methods, to ensure that each and every set of data collected can be identified to a precise location on the infrastructure.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Once the data has been collected, it is processed appropriately, to turn it into useful information for the management of the infrastructure. This is a crucial step in the process. The systems used generate enormous volumes of data but this is of little use until it is translated into information that can be understood and acted upon either by humans or by other intelligent systems. The NMT’s predecessor, the HighSpeed Track Recording Coach (HSTRC), had a bit of a reputation amongst track maintenance people for generating reams of computer paper, covered in numbers, much of which were meaningless. The useful outputs it generated were those that summarised this data in meaningful reports which directed maintenance staff to the important defects in the track, and

FEATURE the places where new defects were beginning to develop. The next and vital responsibility of the team is the planning of train runs. This becomes quite a tricky process. It means balancing the requirements of carrying out infrastructure inspections at set frequencies on the one hand with, on the other, the demands of customers running increasing numbers of trains on the ever-busier network. Occupying train paths with infrastructure monitoring trains might perhaps seem a waste, but standards rightly demand that inspections occur at appropriate intervals in order to ensure the safety of the network. If these requirements cannot be met, consequences follow, according to the level of risk implied by the failure. They might mean speed restrictions, or complete line closures, for example, until the missed inspection can be carried out. The use of trains for these inspection and monitoring activities is often the only realistic, safe and economic method. As an example, the systems for track monitoring used on the NMT replace the old track patrols carried out by staff on foot. These were hugely time consuming, a significant safety risk for the staff, and less effective than the modern systems on the train. In consequence the trains very definitely need to run, and to cover each route comprehensively, every time they are designated to do so. Steve’s team works very closely with train planners and operators to ensure that this happens. Of course, things do occasionally still go wrong, and so inspections get missed or are only partially completed. For instance, a monitoring train may be routed onto a Slow line when it was due to examine the Fast, or be sent along Platform 1 at a station when it was Platform 3 that was due for inspection. Alternatively, there might be a failure associated with the monitoring train or its equipment. When this happens, the team has to generate a recovery plan that will get the missed infrastructure covered and, wherever possible, covered before some protective restriction, such as a speed restriction, has to be applied. Consequently, the plan for the trains is a critical responsibility for Steve and the team.

Equipment racks in the development coach.

The Plain Line Pattern Recognition system. Finally, the team is responsible for ensuring that the monitoring vehicles and their systems are correctly maintained and calibrated. This is no small task, given the number of vehicles and the number and complexity of the systems on board them. In many instances, the systems are supplied and maintained by external specialist suppliers, who alone have the expertise required.

From primitive beginnings Infrastructure measurement has a long history on British railways. Devices that measured the ride quality in passenger vehicles go back to the original private railway companies in pre-grouping days. One such was the Hallade system, which used pendulums and a paper reel recording system to record the displacements experienced on board a coach where it was placed. Then there was the “Porcupine”. This was a primitive means of gauging the infrastructure around the track and was, in fact, a converted brake van to which were attached a series of poles. These stuck out all around the profile of the vehicle, which was hauled along a stretch of track to “gauge” it. Typically, it would be used at a tight bridge or in a tunnel. The poles would be shifted inwards when they struck an obstacle, and the theory was that, after the journey was completed, each pole would indicate the worst clearance along the measured route at the point on the vehicle’s profile where it was attached. A composite drawing representing each of the various pole positions would then be taken to be the worst-case profile of the route, and the limit of the allowable vehicle profile. Having used such a vehicle early in my railway career, I can say that this was a pretty crude and potentially inaccurate process! British Rail went through several stages of improved infrastructure monitoring systems, including Neptune track geometry measurement vehicles that used contact-based methods to record track at up to 20mph, and culminated, as far as track was concerned, in the HSTRC. This used similar track geometry recording systems to the NMT and ran at similar speeds, but it lacked the digitisation systems and did not have the other capabilities of the NMT. It may not seem necessary to explain why Network Rail uses the modern technologies it now has, but there is more to it than just accuracy. First of all, the old methods, such as track patrolling, required large numbers of people to spend a lot of time out on the live railway, so anything that removes that requirement and the associated safety risks has to be worthwhile. Modern technology is more accurate, as already suggested, but it is also far faster and more efficient. This means that it is now possible to carry out monitoring vastly more frequently. This is

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018




Steve Quinby explains the purpose of Network Rail’s inspection fleet. enabling a switch from finding and fixing faults to predicting and preventing them, which significantly improves both safety and performance. The Hatfield train crash on 17 October 2000, caused by rolling contact fatigue failure of a rail, was the catalyst for a radical approach to track inspection which led to the introduction of the NMT and the other systems that are now operated by Network Rail. New monitoring systems come about in response to business needs. When a new problem is identified, Network Rail will approach a range of suppliers of relevant technology. These will then propose possible approaches, and Network Rail will select the most promising for joint development with the supplier concerned. Once tried and tested, the new system will be implemented on the relevant monitoring trains. Between them all, Network Rail’s inspection fleet works 24/7 and covers some 750,000 track miles in 2,000 recording shifts each year. The volume of data generated is enormous, since the NMT alone produces about 7TB for every 350 miles covered. Data is recorded to hard drives and these are delivered to the data centres in cases carrying 21TB.

On-board the development coach The NMT, which has two monitoring coaches and seven monitoring systems, is manned by on-train technicians (OTTs) who control the infrastructure monitoring processes. The so-called ‘development’ coach contains two main systems the PLPR, or plain-line pattern recognition system, and the Fraunhofer system. The first mentioned utilises extremely high-speed digital photography to capture detailed images of the track as the train passes over it. At up to 125mph, this takes an image every 8mm along the track. Sitting alongside this, a LiDAR system scans the track simultaneously. The digital images are analysed by algorithms that identify anomalies which may be track defects. These, known as “candidates”, might be anything from a missing clip to a rail surface defect. The data and the candidate defect information are all saved onto hard-drives that are transferred later to the data analysis centre at Derby.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

At Derby the candidate defects are reviewed by inspectors who confirm whether or not they represent real threats. The LiDAR information is used in this process when the photographic images are unclear - for example, if a rail clip is obscured by debris, the algorithm checking the photographic data would throw up a potential defect, but the inspector would use the LiDAR data to see that the clip was actually present and then delete the defect record. Under Railway Group Standards, Network Rail is allowed 72 hours after the train run which collected the data to get defect information to the maintainers. Of course, there may be defects that need higher priority than that, and there are appropriate measures in place to manage these. For the most serious cases, which need traffic to be stopped, the system would identify these to the OTT by audible and visual alarms. The train would then be stopped as quickly as possible, thus blocking the affected track. Action would then be taken to get the line blocked by normal procedures, have the defect corrected, and get the line reopened. The Fraunhofer system is a contactless overhead line monitoring system. It employs lasers to measure the position of the contact wire. Like the PLPR system, this one is highly accurate, even at 125mph. It identifies the height and stagger of the wire and identifies any locations where the wire is outside the allowable

Output from the forward facing camera at 53.3mph.


Screen shot from the real-time positioning system. tolerances. The system includes a digital camera system that looks at the contact wire to measure its wear. The hard-drives with this data also go off to an analysis centre, in this case at Milton Keynes.

Track inspection The track geometry measuring system, with which many readers will already be familiar, and which would be recognisable to someone familiar with the old HSTRC, is in the ‘production’ vehicle of the train. This system measures the track geometry and calculates, for each eighth of a mile, a standard deviation (SD) for each of the parameters measured. Each SD gives a measure of the extent to which the track deviates from the ideal geometry for the particular parameter to which it relates. Track quality standards lay down threshold SD values for each parameter according to the track category of the line (a measure that takes account of line-speed and traffic intensity). There are planning thresholds and immediate action thresholds. In addition to the actual geometry data and the SDs, the system incorporates a six-foot laser scanner, that checks the distance to the adjoining track, and analysis that looks out for cyclic top and dynamic gauge defects (issue 157, November 2017), both of which are derailment risks that are not easy to identify. Like the PLPR system, the data recording and analysis system on the NMT is linked to the highly accurate positioning system of the train, and issues reports to maintainers for action. The data is also used for more sophisticated analysis of the assets and trends in their condition, assisting the development of long-term plans for renewals and more.

The inspection fleet In addition to the NMT, other units in the fleet include the ultrasonic test trains (UTUs), the structure gauging train (SGT), the radio survey coach and Mentor. The UTUs use ultrasonic rail examination systems provided by Sperry to check for internal defects in the rails. These can run at up to 35mph, a maximum determined by the speed of sound in the steel. Laser scanning enables the SGT to capture structure gauging data vastly more quickly and accurately than the old “porcupine” wagons, to facilitate the clearance of vehicles to run on the network and to ensure that the clearances around the tracks have not been reduced in any way, such as through the planned or unintentional movement of the track or through distortion in a tunnel lining. As one would expect, the radio survey coach monitors the strength of radio signals around the network, to ensure that safety critical and operational railway radio signals are available and reliable as required. Mentor is a coach fitted with overhead line monitoring equipment, this time employing contact-based systems rather

than the laser system of the Fraunhofer units on the NMT. There are secondary systems in use on the trains as well. Many are fitted with forward-facing video recording. On the UTUs, there is a laser system manufactured by KLD Labs that measures rail profiles to detect wear and unsafe profiles, and GPR (ground proving radar) that allows users to “see” under the track to a depth of between 2½ feet and 6 feet below the surface. GPR results show where there are interfaces between different materials, such as the ballast/ formation boundary. They can also show if ballast is clogged with clay or other contaminants and where it is waterlogged. In order to ensure that the railway network is fully covered by track geometry measuring systems, MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) are also fitted with the necessary equipment. These are able to cover short sections of track that cannot be reached by the NMT or the Track Recording Unit (TRU), a two-car unit based on a Class 150/1 train, typically in stations or other complex areas which need covering at night. Trials have also been undertaken with track geometry systems fitted to service trains. The implementation of all this technology has been a real success. The UTUs, with their Sperry nine-sensor ultrasonic wheel probes, have been a major part of Network Rail’s dramatic reduction in rail failure numbers from over 1,000 each year in the late 1990s to only 125 in 2016. This alone has had major benefits in safety, performance and financial terms. It has also attracted the attention of other railways around the world, who wish to understand how it has been achieved and copy Network Rail’s example. The ability to predict and plan is further improving safety, performance and availability, and is reducing costs.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018





Class 769 Flex in Action


n a sunny afternoon in early November, Rail Engineer travelled to Rothley station on the Great Central Railway, at the invitation of Porterbrook Leasing, to see and hear the Class 769 Flex.

The article in issue 168 (October 2018) celebrated the work that Porterbrook and Wabtec Brush have put into this project, but this visit was arranged to experience the unit in action. How would the engines perform? How much noise and vibration would there be? There was no need to worry; just walking through the car park with the train alongside was a revelation. The two idling MAN diesel engines were almost purring; none of the ‘rattling’ that one is used to from older diesels and no visible exhaust either. A conversation at normal volume

was easily possible, sitting on the benches outside the café just four metres away from the train. Inside the driving cars, fitted with the diesel alternators, it was a similar story. One is aware of an engine running but it could not be described as noisy. During acceleration, the sound is purposeful, but there was no significant vibration transmitted through the floor and the main noise source was airborne, coming through a hopper window left open for an instrumentation cable. Normal volume conversation was easily possible.

Next steps The demonstration was almost an anti-climax - testament to the quality of the design and development process. Of course, there have been some minor issues to resolve, but Helen Simpson, Porterbrook’s innovation and development manager, said that they were trivial and vindicated the hard work carried out in Brush’s test cell. Helen was also full of praise for the many UK engineering companies that have contributed the 6,500 items required for each unit.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018


In discussion, Jonathan Wragg, Porterbrook’s Flex programme director, outlined the production programme. The first unit for Arriva Trains North is due for delivery in January 2019, for Transport for Wales in spring 2019 and deliveries to GWR should start in summer 2019 and be completed in early 2020. Discussion inevitably turned to how the Flex concept might be extended. Rupert Brennan-Brown, Porterbrook’s head of communications and engagement who is always ready with a new acronym, described Porterbrook as a rolling stock asset management company that is adapting trains to accommodate the inadequacies of the infrastructure.

Summarising previous announcements, developments include: »» HydroFlex: A hydrogen-powered train being developed in partnership with Birmingham University, using some of the control technology developed for the diesel electric Flex; »» HybridFlex: Working with Rolls Royce (MTU) to provide diesel/battery electric drive for class 168/Turbostar including energy harvesting in braking; »» BatteryFlex: providing ‘last mile’ battery power on Class 350/2 Desiro units. There are 86 Class 319 four-car units, all of which were made redundant from the Thameslink route. Porterbrook has been successful in placing approximately 45 units for further use - 32 for Northern (eight of which will be converted to Flex specification) and 13 units with West Midlands Trains. In addition, there are Flex orders for five units for Wales, 19 units for Great Western Railway and one for the University of Birmingham (the HydroFlex). This makes a grand total of 71 of the 86 units, leaving 15 still to find new homes.

Wider problem – and opportunity This is certainly a success story but is the tip of a large iceberg. With the boom in new trains coming into service,

Porterbrook alone will see over 200 electric multiple units (around 900 vehicles) of Classes 323, 350/2, 455, 456 and 458 coming off lease over the next two or three years with no immediate home. The other large rolling stock leasing companies (ROSCOs) will be in the same, or similar, situations. All of these units could be converted to a Flex format. For example, the retractioned South Western Railway Class 455 units could take advantage of their regenerative braking capability to have a diesel/battery Flex arrangement. Equally, it would be possible to provide Battery Flex capability on the Class 323. Many operators on the non-electrified railway have struggled to expand capacity because of the shortage of self-powered trains. Innovations such as Flex are now providing the opportunity. There will be a large number of redundant electric vehicles with useful life left in them, but placing this large group of vehicles into the relatively smaller pool of self-powered trains will be a big ask. That said, based on the Flex experience, this writer would rather travel on a Class 769 than on a Class 150.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018






the dust Alternative strategies


allast dust continues to be a priority issue, with several high-profile campaigns such as ‘No Time to Lose’ and Network Rail’s Ballast Dust Working Group championing and educating the industry for greater control measures on dust. But the rail industry is not alone in the issue. Construction, quarrying, waste and recycling all face the same challenges. So how can exposure to dust be reduced when it’s an inevitable outcome of heavy construction and engineering works?

Identifying the problem A survey published by the Construction Industry Partnership and IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health), which was commissioned to gather information on how the construction sector manages the dust risk, revealed that almost half (44.3 per cent) of survey respondents felt that “very little” priority was placed on how the sector controls the dust risk. In rail, it is well documented that ballast-handling activities increases exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS). Breathing in these harmful silica particles at high concentrations, over long periods, can have a serious impact on a worker’s health. According to research from the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), it estimates that almost 800 deaths a year are caused from occupational silica exposure, with at least 900 new

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

cases being diagnosed annually according to results from studies by Imperial College London. With the number of national cases for silica exposure rising year on year, coupled with the growing number of policies on managing air pollution in our towns and cities, of which construction dust and rail repair works are cited as some of the key contributors, it will only be a matter of time before more robust measures and limits are in place; particularly as the government reviews its Clean Air Strategy, which will look at reducing total emissions and protecting health. Of course, education, collaboration and monitoring are fundamental requirements in creating and implementing a strategy to control and measure any hazard, as well as the burgeoning green agenda. Dust prevention strategies will be critical in reducing exposure to silica dust for workers in rail, but also supporting managers as they look to implement sustainable best practice. Engineering control measures, featuring equipment and technology such as dust suppression, will be key elements of a sustainable dust prevention strategy.

Dust suppression systems offer efficient and portable alternatives to traditional methods such as sprinkler systems, manual water hose operation and water bowser trucks that run alongside the ballast wagons. Often on site, teams can be standing for hours at a time with a hose, or inside the bowser vehicle, waiting for the ballast to arrive. Dust suppression systems speed-up the control process and manage the hazard. Unlike traditional methods, the suppression systems use nebulized water - water particles between 50 and 150 microns in diameter that can capture dust particles with an average diameter of 80 microns. As such, they hold and drag dust particles to the ground, completely covering the ballast and dust cloud, thereby preventing contamination. Trials undertaken by primary health and environmental firms have certified a decrease of the dust particles by at least 50 per cent in the worst operational conditions through using dust suppression systems which have been deployed as part of a dust prevention strategy. Updates to technology have seen many mobile power tank dust suppression units operating through start/ stop remote technology. This simple feature means that the suppression system can be activated, by a single operator, when the ballast is there. This reduces the health and safety risk to workers who manually dampen dust with a water hose as ballast wagons move along


the tracks. It provides greater control of water and means manpower can be focused on getting the project completed, not waiting for ballast to arrive. Power technology has also evolved the design and efficiency of dust suppression systems, delivering greater fuel economy and projection range. Once switched on, mobile power tank dust suppression systems can operate autonomously, as many have their own generator and water bowser unit, making them suitable for almost any site. They can deliver a projection of between 30 and 120 metres, while the automatic rotation systems of the unit enable managers to direct the coverage, plan and place these mobile power tanks intermittently along the ballast or upgrade routes, providing a consistent flow of dust control at height and at ground level. On the sustainability front, the advances in technology have enabled site managers to keep OPEX costs in check, as the dust suppression units consume up to 90 per cent less water, resulting in a greener operation

as well as greater control over water consumption and reduced waste.

Effective control Last year, Skanska implemented a dust control strategy during the upgrade works at Waterloo Station. As a key health and safety requirement, the dust suppression units were deployed to control, cover and reduce dust contamination into neighbouring platforms, across operational train routes and indoor passenger terminals. Working collaboratively with partners, it was agreed to place different dust suppression products according to the range, strength and volatility of the dust cloud during the works period. For example, all-in-one mobile power tanks were used to dampen down ballast dust being loaded and unloaded into the wagons and covered a distance of up to 40 metres. Significant steps are already in place to help tackle dust. Yet traditional dust control methods often need to be in constant use for any positive impact on controlling the issue. Even then,

it is somewhat resource intensive and inefficient in terms of managing costs and manpower, as well as reducing water use. Through the evolution of suppression and product technologies, dust suppression brings improvement in these areas helping to manage resource and drive down operational expenditure. New product technologies in dust suppression will support managers further in tackling the issue and provide them with greater flexibility in managing costs and site sustainability. Beat Nowrooz is product technical manager with PramacGenerac UK

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018




Shine a light


t the time of year when days are shortest, nights longest, and when Network Rail carries out its most extensive work over the Christmas shutdown, leading manufacturer and supplier of temporary

lighting Morris Site Machinery has been undergoing an intensive period of targeted investment into research and development. This has borne fruit with the company’s innovative and diverse lighting range and energised UK and overseas sales strategies, led and delivered by a dedicated and driven team.

As a result, this year’s lighting season has seen an 83 per cent year-to-date rise in sales as customers have placed orders earlier than usual for the SMC range of reliable mobile lighting towers, with their industry leading reputation for quality and endurance along with impressive sustainability credentials. The business has also been boosted by the success of trusted brands Denyo generators and ArcGen welders in 2018, recording a 277 per cent increase in Denyo sales so far this year and with ArcGen sales up 241 per cent on last year. Overall sales across the business are up 41 per cent on the year before.



Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Established brand Morris Site Machinery CEO Chris Morris is obviously pleased. He explained: “We’ve worked hard and continued to invest in the business over the past few years, adopting a tenacious strategic approach to achieve this position. It is therefore encouraging to see the increased sales recorded so far this year and a buoyant pipeline in front of us. “I believe our current position is due to a combination of factors and investment in product development has seen us bring to market our most comprehensive lighting tower range to date. Having the right machines underpinned by the SMC credentials has secured increased appeal within the industries we serve. We have an established brand that is trusted and proven in the market, a tenacious team behind it with marketleading expertise in design, manufacturing and sales. “In addition to our focus on leading the UK market, we continue our international drive to extend and strengthen our overseas footprint. Our focus is to be ahead of the curve in providing next generation lighting products - and as the first to market with a UK solar tower over 5 years ago, we have a track record to support this strategy.”

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Meet potential customers with new opportunities in both the rail and construction markets.

The Rail Infrastructure, Plant & Equipment Show



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very two years, the railway industry gathers in Berlin

Alstom - Cummins

for the InnoTrans exhibition. Held between 18 and 21

Alstom: A mixture of trains and technology was the theme for Alstom’s display this year. Inside, there was the Iconis security control centre, and Mastria, a multimodal supervision solution that demonstrates the way advanced data analytics will be central to the future of urban mobility. Outside was the world’s first hydrogen train, the Coradia iLint as well as the Prima H4 bi-mode locomotive and the Aptis electric bus. Altpro: This Croatian manufacturer of safety and signalling equipment for rolling stock and infrastructure was founded in 1994 and now operates in 47 countries worldwide. Tin Viduka explained that Altpro axle counters and level-crossing protection systems were increasingly being chosen in Eastern Europe, with the most recent installation being in Montenegro.

September, the 2018 show was the biggest so far, with 3,062 exhibitors from 61 countries showing off their

expertise, products and services to 153,421 trade visitors from 149 countries.

In amongst the wide variety of displays were 400 innovations, 155 world premieres and no fewer than 155 complete vehicles. Contracts were publicly signed, even though they had actually been agreed days or even weeks before behind closed doors.

First impressions For those who had never been to InnoTrans before, the lasting impression will no doubt be the huge scale of the whole event. There were 41 halls packed with railway technology and 3,500 metres of tracks outside on which sat trains, trams, locomotives and on-track plant. Visitors had to choose which entrance to use – South (Messe Süd S-Bahn station for lines S3 and S9) or North (Messe Nord station – S-Bahn S41, S42, S46 and U-Bahn U20). Then it was a question of actually finding what they wanted to see. It is impossible to walk the whole show, so some advance planning is essential and the internal bus services (there are four routes) are a godsend for tired feet.

So where to start? Just how does one review over 3,000 stands? Alphabetically? By product? By country of origin? Whichever way, it’s impossible. So here are some impressions of what visitors to InnoTrans 2018 saw over four days in Berlin, arranged alphabetically.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

FEATURE Cummins: A large red diesel engine, which was sectioned to show the internal workings, formed the centrepiece of the Cummins display. Marcomms specialist Angela Papgeorgiou informed that it was actually built at Daventry in the UK. It was an impressive lump of technology.

Ellis Patents - Hitachi

Arcadis: Martin Standaart from Arcadis Nederland seemed to be the sole inhabitant of the company’s stand in hall 5.2, though it was technically an Arcadis Germany stand. Still, Martin was happy to discuss Arcadis’ latest successes which, as the company is active in 72 countries, was quite a list. Bombardier: Emma Brett was the guide round a crowded Bombardier stand. It was quite open, and for many visitors the hospitality seemed more important than the business talk! Still, there were trains, and signalling, and innovations to discuss as well as digital technology to take visitors on a virtual journey around the world of transportation. British Steel: During the show, British Steel announced two major contract wins. As well as an award for rails from Belgium’s rail infrastructure manager Infrabel, British Steel has also been given a £200 million two-year extension to supply rail to Network Rail. With UK transport secretary Chris Grayling looking on, both contracts were rubber-stamped at the show with representatives from all parties putting pen to paper on the deals. The contract win from Network Rail will see British Steel supply Network Rail with more than 200,000 tonnes (or 4,000km) of rail. Among the rails British Steel will be supplying are two long-life rail innovations – HP335 and Zinoco, both of which were displayed on the InnoTrans stand. Cobham: The Buckinghamshire-based company had some very interesting solutions to the problem of maintaining mobile phone connections for passengers while their train is in a tunnel. A single box of kit outside the tunnel feeds a leaky-coax cable run through the tunnel. There is even a repeater system for longer runs. However, after the show, Rail Engineer was sent a non-disclosure agreement to sign (we didn’t), so whether the equipment should have been on display at all is a good question. Maybe it shouldn’t feature in this review either. Sssshh! Colas: Russell Suart, from the company’s projects in Asia, explained that Lundy Projects, manufacturer of signal gantries and electrification portals, is now part of the Colas group, although its individual identity will be retained, at least for the time being. He also showed a fascinating video of a construction project in the far east, showing how elevated railway construction was carried out elsewhere.

Ellis Patents: A small stand in the Railway Industry Association pavilion allowed Ellis Patents to show off its range of cable cleats and fixing solutions. Export sales executive Kelly Brown informed that the company already has a number of distributors worldwide and was using InnoTrans to meet up with them and also handle enquiries from new contacts. ERTMS Solutions: The developer of signalling and commissioning software was demonstrating its Balise Life Check and Track Circuit Life Check programs. Business development officer Maurizio Palumbo described how Network Rail uses the company’s CamCorder software, and discussions are taking place with TfL over Crossrail. There was also an interesting discussion with marketing manager Caroline Ernoult on Ontology – the philosophical nature of being. How does that relate to ERTMS signalling? It’s all to do with the seamless pairing of business needs and IT in a way that is both cost-effective and agile – apparently. Oh, and there were some great ERTMS socks to take away! Ferrabyrne: A range of black natural rubber bushes was on show, along with some green ones which are fireproof to the latest EuoNorm. Max Bradley also showed off the rolling stock suspension components and anti-roll bars that the Sussex-based manufacturer had on display. Frequentis: Patrick Wirth, project manager with this Austrian safety-critical communications expert, talked about telecommunications and IT (information technology) coming together with moves to LTE and 5G. He also highlighted how Frequentis’ Railway Emergency Management (REM) product supports the operator during incident and crisis situations by maximising cooperation and resolution speed. Also, back by popular demand, the Frequentis ducks were a feature of the stand.

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Furrer+Frey: The new lightweight electrification cantilever that Furrer+Frey developed for Nexus’ Tyne and Wear Metro, the FL200-Light, was on display in Berlin. So too were examples of the work the company is undertaking with Delhi Metro to create a digital twin of the infrastructure and to supply quick-charging stations for e-mobility buses. Getzner: Vibration and how to reduce it was the key message on the Getzner stand. Indeed, the whole stand vibrated from time to time, simulating the noise and movement from a train in a tunnel. Product manager Stefan Vonbun pointed out that, although the whole stand shook, the floor-mounted lights didn’t - all down to Getzner technology. The Austrian chocolates were good too. Hacktrain: The first ever Hackathon took place over four days with support from Siemens, SBB, Fujitsu, ORM joining Deutsche Bahn, SilverRail, SNCF and Network Rail. 80 young people, and 20 mentors, worked throughout the show and presented their outcomes on the Friday afternoon. A roomful of people in illfitting t-shirts and baseball caps worn backwards, listened and participated, cheering each other’s brief presentations. There didn’t seem to be much outside interest apart from the sponsors, and whether the results will have any impact on the real-life railway or not remains to be seen. Still, the participants obviously enjoyed themselves. HIMA: Derived from the family name, Hildebrandt, and home town Mannheim, HIMA has been control and monitoring equipment for industry since 1936. Global PR manager Daniel Plaga explained that, today, the company operates in 50 countries and manages over 1,000 installations. Producing safety PLCs for use by system integrators, these can now be used for SIL 4 installations and can operate up to +70ºC. Used for level crossings, signalling, train doors and tunnel ventilation, a recent application was replacing relays with PLCs to control trams in Luxembourg. Hitachi: One of the largest stands at the show, Hitachi was showing off models of its trains alongside real-time signalling displays, supported by experts from Japan, the UK and Italy. Immersive digital displays were much in evidence as the company emphasised its digital offering. Outside, a Caravaggio train for Italy (pictured right), named Rock by its Trenitalia purchaser and due to go into service next year, attracted a lot of attention.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Izhevskiy Radiozavod (IRZ): The Russian leader in safety and communications systems for rail for 25 years has successfully implemented solutions on rolling stock in more than 15 countries, including Russia/CIS, China, South Korea and in Europe. Matthew Davison and Barbara Grimm explained that, because the company’s signalling products were not developed to ETCS and ERTMS standards, but to alternative, Russian ones, the main thrust was towards markets in Africa and South America that had not adopted the European ‘Norms’ of ETCS and ERTMS. Legios: Based in Prague, Czech Republic, Legios manufactures freight wagons and also maintains and repairs them. An example of the company’s latest freight wagon bogie was proudly displayed at InnoTrans. But why was it pink? Linsinger: A call at the stand of the Austrian-based rail grinding specialist was interesting for two reasons. The latest machine was on show, and international sales manager Elvis Kozica, who spoke in the Rail Engineer Seminar Theatre at Infrarail earlier in the year, was justifiably proud of it. In addition, marketing and public relations manager Georgine Schöm offered what looked like an ice cream cone but it was actually hot – and savoury! There were curries, meat and potatoes, and even fish, all in unsweetened waffle cones. It’s a start-up Austrian company – Coney – and made a welcome change from the coffee and nuts offered on other stands. Mirage Rail: First seen earlier this year at Rail Live, the new Mirage mobile induction welder for joining track in-situ was on display at InnoTrans. Managing director Nick Mountford explained the concept and also that Network Rail had assisted in the machine’s development. Indeed, programme engineering manager Nick Matthews was on hand from Network Rail to lend a hand. Mott MacDonald: The international engineering consultant was promoting its capabilities in complex and progressive assurance – its ability to check the checker. Directors Michael Barron and Chris Dulake were on hand to explain the concept of blockchain analysis. Developed for Bitcoin, blockchain has been described by the Harvard Business School as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”.


MTU: Rolls-Royce Power Systems and Porterbrook agreed the delivery of MTU Hybrid PowerPacks (pictured above) that can convert Class 168 and Class 170 ‘Turbostar’ DMUs from diesel-only to hybrid-electric operation with the signing of a letter of intent on the stand at InnoTrans. This covers the delivery of hybrid systems for installation on two test trains for a series of trials, following which Porterbrook aims to offer hybrid conversion to a range of customers operating existing Turbostar fleets. Nomad Digital: As well as discussing new technologies in the field of on-board communications and mobile phones, Nomad’s Vicki Sloan handed over a red stress-relieving rugby ball, which has proudly joined the editorial collection. Nice one!

Perpetuum - Rosehill Perpetuum: The world leader in vibration harvester-powered wireless sensing systems - that’s what it says on sales manager Andy Stephens’ card. Who can argue with that? Pilz: Major railway infrastructure owners, such as Network Rail and Deutsche Bahn, are naturally conservative. This has resulted in a slow uptake of PLCs (programmable logic controllers) for applications such as level crossing control. Pilz is now working with EULYNX, the European initiative by 12 infrastructure managers to standardise interfaces and elements of signalling systems with the aim of decreasing cost. One aspect of this is that Pilz PLCs need to talk to those of other manufacturers, and Peter Kaiser described how Pilz PLCs controlling point motors now interfaced with those from HIMA which are integral parts of interlocking controls. Pintsch Bamag and Pintsch Tiefenbach: A large stand showed off several products from the Pintsch group, itself now part of Schaltbau. Export manager for signalling Olaf Lachmann was keen to point out a major item on the Pintsch Bamag display - a pedestrian level crossing for the Danish rail network, designed to work with the ETCS signalling that is being delivered throughout the country. Plasser & Theurer: Track maintenance machine manufacturer Plasser & Theurer had its usual large stand, which was busy throughout the show. Models, simulations and displays took the place of actual machines, and these are too large for an indoor stand, but there were several on show outdoors. After-sales service, and the rapid availability of spares, was the topic of many discussions on the stand.

Porr: Two different types of slab track were on show, both made by Porr Austria but for different markets. One was a conventional heavy-rail high-speed slab, the other was designed for metros running in tunnel. Narrower than the main line version, it also included cast-in rail guides, like a concrete check rail, to hold the train in place in case of a derailment and prevent damage to the tunnel lining. R2P: Despite interruptions from well-meaning colleagues, project manager Somtapa Bhattacharya finally managed to list all of R2P’s offerings in the fields of CCTV, automatic passenger counting, passenger information systems, tracking and fleet management. Robel: On a stand which had moved a little from previous years, but was still in hall 26, Robel showed off its range of hand-held tools for working on track. The new Rogrind HF two-part electric rail grinding tool was particularly popular and attracted quite a crowd. Rosehill Rail: Well known for their level-crossing panels, Rosehill had plenty on display, along with the anti-trespass panels which look like an upside-down egg carton. Impossible to walk on, which is the whole point, there was a new arrangement of cones to improve the product still further. Rosehill Security’s Kirstie Emptage was also present, showing off new anti-vehicle and crowd control barriers that can either be installed temporarily or semi-permanently – ideal for special occasions and for controlling passenger and vehicle flows during temporary works.

Siemens - WSP Siemens: Although all under the Siemens Mobility banner, with so many activities involved the stand was crowded most of the time. Rolling stock mingled with electrification and signalling, as well as other peripheral activities. Digital railway and high-speed trains (the new Velaro Novo) were the topics being discussed indoors, while the outdoor display was packed with the new tram for Ulm, new trains for the Rhine-Ruhr Express, Berlin S-Bahn (built in conjunction with Stadler), and Sofia Metro, a UK Thameslink train – this one for the Moorgate branch and Vectron and Smartron freight locomotives.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018




Stadler: The train manufacturer that seems to be growing fastest right now, at least in Europe, had a big stand and also an outside display. Of most interest to British visitors was the first of the new trains for Glasgow Subway - the Clockwork Orange – which looked huge parked in the outside display. But that was an illusion, not only were visitors looking up from ground level rather than platform level, but the trains’ novel four-foot gauge meant they were on accommodation bogies too, further adding to the height. Still, the interior gave a better impression as everyone but the shortest visitors had to crouch down. Looking more conventional, the new bi-mode Flirt train for Greater Anglia was on display as well. TE Connectivity: Product manager Rob Smeets was clearly proud of the new circuit breaker designed to be roof mounted on trains, alongside the pantograph. No longer air-insulated, nor using relays, the sealed unit is the lowest on the market and comes with a fully insulated surge arrester, to keep workers safe if they have to access the roof for any reason. Other products on display included the range of Jaquet sensors, a recent acquisition. Thales: Decisive technology for decisive moments – that was the slogan written on the top of the Thales stand. Below, the French manufacturer was using an interactive Digital Wall to show how it supports customers’ big ambitions to optimise network performance and create a unique passenger experience. There was also a new immersive Experience Room where visitors could find out how Thales’ solutions help overcome obstacles at decisive moments, from network disruption to rail digitalisation. Thermo King: The refrigerants used in air-conditioning systems are now known to be bad for the environment. As a result, the old chlorofluorocarbons and products such as R-134a (1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane) are being phased out and replaced by new products like R513a, a non-ozone depleting refrigerant based on hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO). Alexander Zankl explained how Thermo King HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) units are now ready for these new refrigerants. Combined with the well-documented reliability of the equipment – only one compressor failure on 1,300 units in Melbourne, Australia, in 12 years, and that without any leaks – and there really is little chance of environmental damage from these systems which now have an operating temperature range of +/- 50ºC. Unipart: Virtual and augmented reality featured on the Unipart stand this year, and visitors were shown how both technologies could enhance their understanding of how depot maintenance activities can transform performance. Head of marketing communications Dave Tilmouth was also keen to explain Unipart’s concept of the condition-based supply chain, with deliveries automated to be in the right place at the right time. University of Birmingham: Located in the careers hall, the University of Birmingham was promoting both its courses and UKRRIN, the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network. Alex

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Burrows, Rob Hopkin and the team were on hand to explain both offerings and also meet with several other exhibitors with which they work closely. Viper: Developed for use on oil rigs, Aberdeen-based Viper has a neat solution to the problem of insulation breaking down on telecommunications cables at the microscopic level. Passing an electric current through the cable causes electrolysis to occur at the site and ‘welds’ the insulation back together. Of less use on railways, where the fresh water doesn’t contain enough electrolytes, the company still uses its technology to pinpoint exactly where a fault is located, allowing repairs to be focussed within a small area. Cable Guardian units are installed at various points on the network, and any failure can be pinpointed as a distance from those various points. Welsh Government: The Welsh pavilion was displaying plans for the new £100 million Global Centre of Rail Excellence, a 7.3km 100mph (160km/h) test track to be built near Swansea. Combined with a smaller, 3.1km track for light rail and metros, supply chain development managers Mike Gillard and Alan Jones pointed out that the new facility will give manufacturers a third European test facility, alongside Siemen’s site at Wildenrath and Velim in the Czech Republic, both of which are booked up a year in advance. Windhoff: Perhaps the slowest vehicle on display was Windhoff’s Tele Trac RW60AEM battery-operated shunter for the Warsteiner brewery. Weighing in at 35 tonnes, including 2.5 tonnes of batteries, it can tow a load of up to 1,000 tonnes. That’s a lot of beer! Other specialist vehicles were on display, including a multi-function rail vehicle which was handed over to Jernbaneverket, the Norwegian rail infrastructure manager. WSP: Although there were a number of model railways around the show, Lego ones as well as Ho, OO and other scales, one of the best was on the WSP stand. Carsten Scharf was keeping a close eye on his model, but also discussing WSP’s engineering capabilities with visitors who called by.

So when’s the next? The dates for InnoTrans 2020 have already been set – 22 to 25 September 2020. For the first time in a long while, it manages to miss the author’s birthday! Some things will be the same though – aching feet, crowded restaurants, packed hotels (book yours now!), but also friendships renewed, innovations to study and new equipment and trains to look at and climb into. The new S-Bahn stock may also be in service, which will be interesting. Whatever happens, it will be THE place to be in 2020. Everyone who is anyone in the rail industry will be in Berlin, either exhibiting, visiting or doing a bit of both. See you there!

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ail Engineer normally contains articles that feature new technology and the commissioning of the latest projects and provides an opportunity for suppliers to promote the development of innovative engineering products. Just occasionally, however, articles will appear that feature the heritage railway sector, that tell of the challenges to obtain and maintain historic equipment with very limited funds. The Institution of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE) set up a Minor Railways Section some while ago, to feature and promote the work of these railways. While the engineering challenges are just as great as on ‘big’ railways, they have to come up with solutions that demand creative thinking and bargain basement procurement, often obtaining results that are quite remarkable.

The GWR To the uninitiated, GWR = Great Western Railway. However, in this instance, it stands for the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, which just happens to be in the old GWR territory, so it’s a lucky acronym. In fact, the official name is the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, so, partly to avoid confusion with the modern-day GWR franchise, the older heritage railway is now often termed the GWSR. The origin of the line was a Great Western route from

Birmingham to Cheltenham, intended to avoid paying running rights to the Midland Railway for use of their line between these two cities. Some of the route is still open - from Birmingham to Stratford upon Avon - forming part of Birmingham’s suburban network. The rest of the line closed in 1976, although the local stations had closed in 1960, none of the villages serving any significant population. A serious derailment, and its associated track damage, at Winchcombe was judged too expensive to repair. By 1978, all the track had been lifted except for the short section from Honeybourne to Long Marston, serving an MoD storage site. Most buildings

survived but became increasingly decrepit. Honeybourne is where the line crossed the main Oxford to Worcester route, still open today and increasingly busy. Enthusiasts and railway preservationists in the area believed that the route could become a major tourist attraction and, with a Light Railway Order granted, tracklaying commenced at Toddington in 1983, the first steam services running the following year. By 1986, Winchcombe had been reached, in 2003 the line had extended to Cheltenham Racecourse and in 2018, the extension northwards to Broadway was opened. Landslips at, firstly, Gotherington, and then at Winchcombe, have been major setbacks, but such is the determination of the company that huge funds were raised for these to be repaired in a manner that hopefully will prevent any future problems.

Signalling the Line Whilst the glamour of a heritage railway perhaps goes to the locomotives, coaches and stations, the line



Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018


Toddington junction signal. has to be operated safely and reliably, and for this the signalling is crucial. Initially, control was by train staff and ticket for the short section from Toddington to Winchcombe but, as the line extended and more trains were operating, proper signalling arrangements were required. The GWSR has five signalboxes, all of the traditional type but very different as to how they have been acquired and built. They are: Toddington, Winchcombe, Gotherington, Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. Linking all the locations is a buried cable of 0.9 mm conductors, jelly filled and armoured. 20 pair is the norm but 10 pair is installed between Far Stanley (part-way between Winchcombe and Gotherington) and Gotherington. The cable suffices for both signalling and telecommunication requirements. Each box is considered in turn.

Toddington SB

Winchcombe SB

This was the only box to survive the demolition process, although without its original lever frame which had been sold to another railway prior to the GWSR acquiring the site. The box never had running water in BR days and even electricity was a late addition. After repairing the box structure, a 35-lever frame from Earlswood Lakes on the North Warwickshire line was acquired after that route was re-signalled. The frame dates from 1906 and has a three-bar horizontal-tappet locking arrangement. A Tyers token machine controls the single line section to Winchcombe and, for the present, a train staff is issued when a service runs to the newly opened Broadway section. Release of the Broadway train staff allows a single pull on the section signal to prevent any unauthorised movement towards Broadway. All signals are typical GW lower quadrant and enable signalled movements into either platform and to the sidings in the yard, where the main locomotive depot is sited. Points and facing point locks are operated by conventional rodding except for those at the far end of the loop towards Broadway. These are worked by HW point machines as the ‘pull distance’ is too great for manual operation.

The original signalbox was demolished, so a redundant structure from Hall Green on the North Warwickshire line was acquired when that route was modernised. It is built on the foundations of the original box with the brickwork being carried out by GWSR volunteers. The 35-lever frame came from Honeybourne West Loop and is a fivebar vertical-tappet design originally manufactured in 1960. As such it is relatively new! The SB diagram is illuminated to show track circuit occupations. The Tyers token instruments enable both short and long section operation. Going south, one token machine is for the section to Gotherington (the next box) but this is not always open. The other machine works the section to Cheltenham Race Course and is the one mostly in use. The two sections have different coloured tokens, red for Winchcombe to Gotherington, green for Winchcombe to Cheltenham. Another token machine with blue tokens covers the section Winchcombe to Toddington. Although Winchcombe is, in many ways, the core of the signalling operation, the box can switch out by means of the Toddington -

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018




Cheltenham staff mounted in an Annett’s Lock on the block shelf. When the line is closed, the staff is brought to Toddington. It is normally taken back to Winchcombe by road in order to open up the line for token operation. It is also possible to open Winchcombe as a ground frame by a train movement from Toddington, providing it has the Toddington Cheltenham staff in its possession. Signals are traditional lower quadrant, but one unusual feature is the provision of two mechanical banner repeaters. The sighting for the southbound starter signals towards Greet tunnel is poor when leaving the platform. As the signals are pulled off, a signal wire taken from the opposite side of the main signal balance weight arm, operates the banner. This operates identically to a normal signal and contains its own balance weight, down rod and pivot casting. It thus proves to the driver as near as is practical that the main signal arm is off.

The addition of this loop necessitated the building of a new box, constructed of Bradstone blocks and a steel frame, similar to the one at Cheltenham (see below). The frame came from Claydon Crossing on the line from Banbury to Leamington Spa. It was originally stud locked but has been modified to a threebar vertical-tappet layout. Signals are lower quadrant and the box is normally closed with signals being cleared in both directions for operation through the down side of the loop.

Cheltenham Race Course SB When the line was extended in 2003, the Race course station became the south terminus, with engine run-round and the stabling of trains having to be provided. A new signalbox was constructed at the north end in stone-coloured Bradstone blocks with a steel frame and an internal staircase.

Cheltenham Race Course Signal Box.

Gotherington SB The next station is lightly used and cannot accommodate full length trains in its short platforms. Gotherington did, at one time, have a passing loop in the platform area, but this was removed long ago. The need for a passing loop only becomes necessary when a three-train service is in operation or when special events are being held. It was impractical to re-instate the loop in the platform area, so a new loop was provided just to the south of the station. Since the line had always been double track prior to closure, space was available for this.

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The racecourse did have a station before line closure, but it was only open on race days. Nothing except the wooden ticket office at road level remained after the line demolition, so everything here is brand new. There are two platforms, although these are not connected by a footbridge. The line extends southbound into a shunt neck, there splitting into two sidings that terminate at the southern end of Hunting Butts tunnel. The box was built in 2001 with the 20-lever frame coming from Whiteball Sidings between Taunton and Wellington, near to the spot where City of Truro made its 100mph dash in 1904. It is again a vertical-tappet three-bar arrangement. Track circuits are illuminated on the box diagram. Two token machines are provided, covering short or long section working

FEATURE Most lower quadrant signals are in place, the only electrically operated signal will be the northbound distant, and the line will be fully track circuited from Toddington. Commissioning of the new box is expected in March 2020.

The Future

to Gotherington and Winchcombe respectively. On busy days, two race specials can be accommodated at Cheltenham. The first to arrive gives up its token and proceeds from the platform to the headshunt. A second train can then be accepted and, after arrival, the locomotive is detached and proceeds to the rear of the first train. With the first train locomotive uncoupled, the second locomotive takes the first train carriages back through the loop as empty stock and northwards to a stabling point, usually at Toddington. The first locomotive then rounds run the second train for a return service. Cheltenham box can work as a ground frame during light traffic periods. If long staff working is in operation, the box will be closed, with a signalman travelling on the train and inserting the staff into the Annett’s key lock on the block shelf that permits ground frame operation for locomotive run-round purposes.

Broadway SB The much-heralded opening to Broadway in March 2018 was achieved with only one platform being available, the footbridge still to be completed and without any of the signalling being operational. Hence the use of ‘One Train Working’ as a temporary measure. There was virtually nothing left of the station and the old signalbox had been demolished, so a brand new box has been built in traditional GW style (pictured above). It is sited on the still-tobe-completed northbound platform and is equipped with a 46-lever frame from Aller Junction near Newton Abbott, made redundant when Exeter Power Box was commissioned in the 1980s. It had originally been acquired by the Gorse Blossom miniature railway, which never got around to using it. The locking is a three-bar vertical-tappet arrangement and is already configured for station operation and any future extension onwards to Honeybourne.

What the GWSR has achieved in its 35year existence is remarkable. The recent extension to Broadway has opened up a new market, as the town is itself a tourist attraction. The infrastructure, stations, rolling stock and signalling are all things the railway can be proud of. The one missing element is a main line connection. Whilst much of the track bed at the southern end through Cheltenham is accessible, parts have been built on so, extending here is potentially very difficult. For all its prestige, Cheltenham experiences unsocial behaviour, which could lead to vandalism problems in any future town centre section. At the northern end, the route to Honeybourne would be relatively easy to reinstate, which would allow a connection to the Cotswold line. North from there to Stratford, beyond Long Marston, is much more difficult as encroachment of the track bed has happened in several places. Nothing is impossible these days, as the Borders Railway and the Welsh Highland have demonstrated, but, whatever transpires, the signalling fraternity will be there to play its part. Thanks to Neil Carr, operations manager, and Malcolm Walker from the GWSR signalling department for explaining the signalling and operation of the line.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018





Ayr Station Hotel Abandoned hotel causes partial station closure


t the end of August, ScotRail announced that trains between Ayr and Glasgow would be short-formed and that, to ensure sufficient capacity on the route, some full-length trains would start from Prestwick with a connecting bus service from Ayr. At the same time train services between Stranraer and Ayr were suspended. This service resumed on 2 November, although restrictions on train length at Ayr station remain in place for the foreseeable future.

(Below left) Before the council took action, Ayr Station Hotel in September 2017. Note how close it is to the platforms. (Below right) View from Platform 4 showing closed travel centre, Platform 3 buffer stop, and overhead lines earthed by station footbridge.

The cause of these restrictions is the dangerous condition of the B-listed station hotel that, ten years ago, was sold to a Malaysian businessman who abandoned it after it closed in 2013. In the same year, South Ayrshire Council issued a Dangerous Building Notice which was withdrawn after Network Rail erected crash decks to protect platforms and the station entrance. PHOTO: IAN ROBERTSON

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

Exclusion zone declared After five years’ lack of action and further deterioration, the Council issued a further Dangerous Building Notice. Having had no response from the overseas owner, the Council occupied the hotel in July to undertake a survey. This resulted in the closure of the station’s travel centre and concourse, requiring a temporary ticket office and

entrance to be established at the north end of the station. On 28 August, the Council declared an exclusion zone around the hotel, which led to unfounded press reports that Ayr station might have to be temporarily closed. However, it was possible to operate four-car EMUs from the north end of the platforms, although the through-platforms had to be blocked. Ayr station has two bay platforms, 1 and 2, which can normally accommodate seven-car Class 380 EMUs, and two through platforms, 3 and 4. Blocking these platforms resulted in the Stranraer service having to be replaced by buses and ScotRail

FEATURE being unable to use the ten-road Townhead EMU sidings and its washing plant, located immediately south of the station.

Stranraer services restored A taskforce, led by Transport Scotland and which included Network Rail, ScotRail Alliance, South Ayrshire Council and Historic Environment Scotland, considered how services to Stranraer could be resumed. This took over two months and required some alterations to the station that included isolation of the overhead line south of the station footbridge, by cutting insulators into the catenary, and temporary steps from the footbridge onto Platform 3 to replace those leading to the closed station concourse. Temporary buffer stops have been provided on Platforms 1 and 2 to keep trains away from the hotel. A walkway was also erected between these platforms providing a walking route away from the hotel. Trains resumed to Stranraer following a risk assessment by Network Rail after work had been done on the hotel including its encapsulation. This allowed Platform 4 to be reopened as a through platform, although Platform 3 remains blocked and the Townhead sidings are still out of use.

While it is not clear how long the current restrictions will remain in place, the council has issued a statement that, although they had initially expected their work to make the building safe would be completed in December, this will now be delayed because ScotRail and Network Rail have decided to run trains to Stranraer!

(Above) Encapsulated hotel above Platform 3. Photograph taken from the road bridge south of the station on which the exclusion zone has closed one lane.

View of Platforms 1, 2 and 3 from top of temporary footbridge steps showing temporary walkway between Platforms 1 and 2.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018




Collision at London Waterloo 15 AUGUST 2017

Lessons from the past


RAIB aims to identify the causes of accidents along with any other factors that contributed to the event or made the outcome worse, such as technical, operational factors or management system failings. It can take many months for a full RAIB report to be published. This can be because of the depth and scale of the investigation, which may have to extend into further scope based on the initial findings. The time also has to allow for extensive stakeholder consultation. The RAIB, however, may issue safety bulletins and an interim report to share their findings. This happened with regards to a signalling issue at Waterloo in August 2017 and the full report has only now been published.

Passenger and engineering train after the collision.


nasty little collision between a


passenger train and a Network Rail

The initial report revealed that, on Tuesday 15 August 2017, the 05:40 to Guildford, a 10-car train made up of a combination of Class 455 and 456 units, pulled out of Platform 11 on time. Having reached a speed of 15mph, it veered to the left and struck a train of empty Network Rail wagons. Of the 23 passengers and two employees that were on the train, only three were treated at the scene by paramedics, and fortunately no one required hospital treatment. An early investigation by the RAIB revealed that the points were misaligned and had directed the passenger train away from its intended route. The misalignment was a consequence of a temporary modification to the points’ control system. It was identified that the points were around mid-position as the train left the platform. The full report has now identified the reasons why the temporary modifications had been left in place, and it makes some uncomfortable reading for the industry. The wagons were deliberately placed to protect the workforce behind them from the live railway (and not a train entering the worksite). It was therefore a step well taken – without them the diverted train could have ploughed into people working on the station improvements. Had the points been clipped, however, there would not have been a derailment, which was another of the questions to be answered by the full report which was issued on 19 November 2018.

barrier train, that was protecting workers at Waterloo station, was the

subject of a report in issue 156 (October 2017). Although the accident could have led to serious injury and even death, thankfully, it didn’t.

As a matter of course, the matter was referred to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), the independent railway accident investigation organisation for the UK that is concerned with the investigation of accidents and incidents on the national railway networks, to improve safety and prevent further accidents from occurring. Its investigations are entirely independent and are focused solely on safety improvements with no apportionment of blame or liability. RAIB does not enforce law, nor carry out prosecutions.

Schematic layout of tracks (platforms 1-19) at London Waterloo station.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

FEATURE RAIB final report The final investigation report identifies that the train was diverted away from its intended route by a set of points which were positioned incorrectly as a result of uncontrolled wiring added to the signalling system. This wiring was added to overcome a problem that arose because the test equipment design process had not allowed for alterations being made to the signalling system after the test equipment was designed. Soon after moving away from the platform, the driver noticed that 1524 points were not correctly set and applied the train’s brakes. The collision occurred about three seconds after the brake application which had reduced the train’s speed to 13 mph (21 km/h). Drivers are not required, and not expected, to check point positions in these circumstances, therefore the driver was commended by RAIB for noticing that they were lying incorrectly and for his prompt brake application. Immediately after the accident, the train driver made a GSM-R railway emergency call that caused an emergency stop message to be broadcast to all trains in the Waterloo area. The Clapham Junction incident in 1988 occurred because a driver stopped to telephone and report a signalling equipment irregularity caused by uncontrolled wiring. The uncontrolled wiring resulted in signalling equipment not protecting the train. 35 people died when another train ran into the back of the stationary train. One recommendation from the Clapham Junction inquiry was for a nationwide driver radio system, which became GSM-R.

Summary of RAIB findings The RAIB identified that, in the 2017 Waterloo incident, the train was signalled to run over a set of points which were not correctly positioned for the passage of the train. Uncontrolled wiring had been added to points-detection circuits, such that the position of 1524 points was incorrectly detected. This wiring was added during testing when the test desk was found to no longer simulate the detection of 1524 points correctly, a consequence of an incomplete design process. The actions taken to make the test desk simulate the operation of the points correctly were not in line with the signalling works testing standard, and the uncontrolled wiring was not removed before train services restarted. Furthermore, the actions of the functional tester were inconsistent with the competence expected of testers. Electrical disconnection, scotches and padlocked clips had not been used to secure the point ends in a safe position as required by the test plan.

Schematic layout of 1524 points, the accident location.

View from the train's forward facing CCTV showing 1524A points lying approximately midway between normal (wide gap at right-hand point end, no gap at left-hand point end) and reverse (gap only at lefthand point end). Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018





Overview of station and accident. In addition, the competence management processes had not addressed the full requirements of the roles undertaken by the staff responsible for the design, commissioning and testing of the signalling works, the relay room maintenance drawings did not provide a definitive description of the equipment in the relay room and the absence of the spur wires on the interlocking detailed design documents would have adversely affected the integrity of the final wire count. The incident is a classic example of the ‘Swiss Cheese’ effect of hazard control measure failure. All the defence layers of design, checking, testing (any one of which should have been prevented by another control measure) had errors or deficiencies. When all the ‘holes’ in the cheese lined up’ the train was wrongly diverted.

he did not instruct anyone to secure any points nor did he check, or instruct anyone else to check, that any points were secured. The possession management staff had only been asked to secure points required by the railway rulebook to protect the blockade. These requirements do not include points on the blockade flank, such as 1524 points. Separately, an email from a project manager requested that points which would be under the engineering train should be secured to protect against inadvertent movement while the track circuits, which would normally prevent them moving, were disconnected. This led to 1524C points being secured, but not 1524A and 1524B point ends as they were not under the train.

Competence Points not secured The points had not been secured in the correct position because of a breakdown in communications and because the responsibility for securing the points had not been allocated effectively. The list of points included in the project documentation included, among others, 1524A, 1524B and 1524C points. Securing of these points would have avoided them moving to an unsafe position, either due to a route setting error or to a wiring problem in the complex circuits being modified. The requirement to secure the points was included in a risk workshop. The associated action was initially allocated to the tester in charge (TIC), but the risk register published later showed the owner as ‘project team’ with the TIC to supply the padlocks. There was then no individual named in the risk register as responsible for implementing the securing of the points. The TIC prepared the signalling test plan, which detailed the testing process for the blockade, and the final version of which including a list of points to be secured. Testers in charge are responsible for the implementation of test plans and should check that all testers involved in the work are briefed and fully conversant with their duties. However, in this case, the TIC assumed that possession management staff would secure the points, so

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

RAIB said that the actions of a functional tester were inconsistent with the competence expected. As a consequence, the uncontrolled wiring was added without the safeguards required by the signalling works testing standards, and remained in place when the line was returned to service. An underlying factor was that competence management processes operated by Network Rail and some of the contractors had not addressed the full requirements of the roles undertaken by the staff responsible for the design, testing and commissioning of the signalling works. One of the most alarming facts, as observed by RAIB, was that there were certain similarities between the factors that caused the Waterloo accident and those which led to the serious accident at Clapham Junction 30 years ago in December 1988. The RAIB has therefore expressed the concern that some of the lessons identified by the public inquiry, chaired by Anthony Hidden QC following the Clapham Junction incident, may be fading from the railway industry’s collective memory. The RAIB has made recommendations, addressed to Network Rail, to seek improvements in the depth of knowledge and the attitudes needed for signal designers, installers and testers to deliver work safely. There are also recommendations addressed to the suppliers involved, to seek development and monitoring of non-technical skills among the staff working for them.

FEATURE The RAIB has also identified four learning points. One highlights the positive aspects of a plan intended to mitigate an unusually high risk of points being moved unintentionally. The others reinforce the need to follow established procedures, prompt staff to clearly allocate duties associated with unusual activities, and to remind staff that up-to-date signalling documentation must be available and easily identified in relay rooms and similar locations.

Corporate memory loss Events at Waterloo, and the RAIB’s investigation of the serious irregularity at Cardiff East Junction that occurred on 29 December 2016, suggest that some in the railway industry are forgetting the lessons learnt from the 1988 Clapham Junction accident in which 35 people died. At Cardiff East Junction (RAIB Report 15/201722), a set of redundant points was left unsecured in the railway when it was returned to service after an engineering possession. They were not secured because the team that was responsible for this activity did not identify all of the redundant points that required securing. The major changes to signalling design, installation and testing processes triggered by the Clapham accident remain today, but the RAIB is concerned that the need for rigorous application is being forgotten as people with personal knowledge retire or move away from front line jobs. “This deep-seated, tacit knowledge is part of the corporate memory vital to achieve safety,” the report states on page 46. “Loss of this type of knowledge as previous generations leave the industry is a risk which must be addressed by organisations committed to achieving high levels of safety.”

Normalisation of Deviance The incidents at Waterloo and at Cardiff East Junction resulted from people taking actions which were inconsistent with the processes in which they had been assessed as competent. Had these processes been followed, the events would have been prevented. The RAIB found no evidence that the staff and organisations involved at Waterloo and Cardiff lacked a commitment to safety. In this respect, the RAIB’s findings at Waterloo and Cardiff have much in common with this extract from the Clapham Junction Hidden report chapter 17 ‘Where things went wrong – The Lessons to be learned’: The vital importance of this concept of absolute safety was acknowledged time and again in the evidence which the Court heard. This was perfectly understandable because it is so selfevident. The problem with such expressions of concern for safety was that the remainder of the evidence demonstrated beyond dispute two things:

(i) there was total sincerity on the part of all who spoke of safety in this way; but nevertheless (ii) there was failure to carry those beliefs through from thought into deed… The concern for safety was permitted to co-exist with working practices which… were positively dangerous. The observation that people were committed to safety but were not working safely has also occurred in other industries and has been developed as a concept by the American sociologist Diane Vaughan and called “Normalisation of Deviance”. She developed the theory when looking at where conflicts, mistakes, and disasters find their roots. She summarises her theory of normalisation of deviance as: “Social normalisation of deviance means that people within the organisation become so much accustomed to a deviant behaviour that they don’t consider it as deviant, despite the fact that they far exceed their own rules for the elementary safety.”

Wakeup call It is fortunate that the incident caused by the wiring error at Waterloo only resulted in a lowspeed collision. The consequences could have been far worse and could have easily been a bigger disaster than Clapham Junction was in 1988. Working practises and the safety record of the signalling industry have improved tremendously over the last 30 years, with complex projects being delivered safely and competently. It is to be hoped that the Waterloo incident does not create even more process and complexity, nor stifle the innovation and creativity the industry strives for. All the required safe working practises are in place and the industry just needs to use the incidents at Cardiff and Waterloo as a ‘wake-up call’ and make sure everyone learns the lessons from the past, while at the same time delivering tomorrow’s railway safely.

Simplified track layout at Cardiff East Junction showing the area and the location of 817 points, which were left unsecured, diverting train 2T08 towards Line E.

Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018




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Rail Engineer | Issue 170 | December 2018

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Rail Engineer - Issue 170 - December 2018  

Rail Engineer - Issue 170 - December 2018

Rail Engineer - Issue 170 - December 2018  

Rail Engineer - Issue 170 - December 2018