London Underground and TfL

19.02.08

Tube Lines reels in a beauty

New machine makes moving cable safer and faster

Tube Lines has overcome the challenge of moving massive amounts of cabling into its London Underground stations, some as deep as 60m below ground. A new machine developed with Data Techniques makes the process safer and faster. This unique machine has allowed over 100km of new signal cable to be installed on the Jubilee Line, enough to wind around the outer rim of the London Eye over 200 times.

In the dark hours after midnight, when Underground trains don’t run, as much as 2km of signal cable at a time has to be moved from the street to track level. Working with Data Techniques, Tube Lines is using a new coiling machine. The signalling cable is spun in advance, offsite, from a huge 600kg drum onto much more manageable 25kg coils.

The new cable is being laid as part of Tube Lines’ £600m upgrade of the Jubilee and Northern Lines with completely new signalling systems for both. In one of the largest projects of its kind in the world, Tube Lines is replacing 60 year old equipment with a fully modern, computer-controlled signalling system.

Spinning cable from the large drum on to the smaller coils means trip hazards are reduced and better manual handling conditions are met. The coiling machine also saves Tube Lines time; with a work window of just four hours, every minute makes a crucial difference, allowing more cable to be installed each shift.

Kevin Otto, Tube Lines senior construction manager says:
“Just imagine the demands on the team. We have less than four hours to install the cable on the track and get clear before passengers return in the morning. The countdown starts as soon as the last train leaves the platform. We work to our plan accounting for every moment we have. This novel machine allows us to get on with the job straight away, with far less risk of injury to the team or damage to the infrastructure.”

Bob Jacobs, Data Techniques contracts director says:
“The smart concept, creation and use of this new machinery have led to an even safer work environment for Tube Lines, removing the prospect of trip hazards and trailing lines. Vital time is spent doing work on the signalling upgrade and not lost to moving the cable to where it needs to be.”

When the line upgrades are complete, passengers on the London Underground will see trains running more frequently and travelling more quickly. The service will be faster and run with improved reliability. This new system has an international track record, successfully operating on railways in Vancouver, Hong Kong and San Francisco. The Jubilee Line is on schedule to switch over to the new signalling system in 2009.

Making sure that site access, the transportation of materials and people are safe and quick is essential to Tube Lines’ work. The coiling machine speeds up and makes safer cable transport for the signalling upgrades, helping Tube Lines to deliver an outstanding Tube for London.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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