London Underground and TfL

01.08.06

New fleet in action for Metronet Rail

A new fleet of heavy-duty, national rail engineering trains was successfully put into action on the London Underground network at the weekend by Metronet Rail, the company responsible for the maintenance and upgrade of two-thirds of the Tube.

Metronet has already renewed more than 55 kilometres of track since it began work in April 2003 and has a further 19 kilometres of track renewals planned for this year – 10 kilometres more than the previous year.

The new fleet brings the best available technology and methods from the national rail to support this massive programme, delivering a step change in Metronet’s renewal capabilities and delivering to London Underground and its passengers’ journeys that are more reliable, smoother and faster.

Ultimately the fleet will double the length of track typically renewed in any one weekend from around 500 metres to 1 kilometre, as well as triple the number of worksites Metronet can operate on the sub-surface lines of the Metropolitan, District, Hammersmith & City and Circle lines.

The weekend’s work was treated as a trial with Metronet renewing 476 metres of near life-expired track at two sites on the southbound track at Amersham on the Metropolitan line.

The locomotives, on their first outing, were used to pull trains almost 400 metres in length, with wagons and the latest in high-output track laying equipment.
This was the first time in the history of the network that Class-66 diesel locomotives had worked on London Underground infrastructure having started their journeys from locations on the national rail network.

The fleet is owned and operated by GB Railfreight under a 10-year, £80 million service contract with Metronet.

Metronet chief executive Andrew Lezala said, “For the first time, Metronet has brought heavy-duty diesel engineering locomotives and high-output track-laying equipment from the mainline railway to work on the open sections of the Underground.

“These 126-tonne locomotives are capable of pulling trains of wagons and machinery such as Slingers and auto-ballasters up to nearly half a kilometre in length which allows us to deliver new track quicker than ever before.”

Metronet has had to overcome many challenges in bringing the new fleet to the Underground, including satisfying London Underground's stringent vehicle approval process. Class 66 diesels are much heavier and larger, principally in height, than existing locomotives so bridges are being strengthened on the District line to pass Metronet's own strict structural assessment criteria.

The Class 66 locomotives are manufactured by EMD in Ontario, Canada. Being capable of pulling formations up to 430 metres in length cuts the number of trains needed to service each weekend work site from a maximum of 30 trains to just eight, introducing new efficiencies.

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