Rail Industry Focus

01.07.13

Electrifying the Great Western

Source: Rail Technology Magazine June/July 2013

Anne Watters, OLE technical manager at Amey, spoke at the IMechE electrification colloquium to explain the preparations for Great Western Main Line electrification.

In March 2012, Amey was delivered the operate, deliver and maintain contract from Network Rail for the GWML electrification project.

The route is 191 miles, plus the stretch from Cardiff to Swansea, which is also to be electrified.

Only 12 miles to Heathrow Junction are currently electrified, while Crossrail is carrying out the electrification from Stockley Junction as far as Maidenhead.

Anne Watters, OLE technical manager at Amey, told the IMechE electrification colloquium: “The project I’m part of is doing Maidenhead to Cardiff, including up to Oxford and down to Newbury, and then we will be looking at the extensions out to Swansea and potentially down to Basingstoke.”

There are three main phases to the project, she said – an initial 20-mile section of test track between Reading and Didcot by September 2015 to allow the IEP trains to be tested at line speed; then Maidenhead-Bristol by December 2016; and then Bristol-Cardiff by December 2017.

The panel gives an idea of the sheer scale of work and the quantities of materials needed for the project.

Watters said: “Obviously, for those quantities and the timescales, Network Rail has had to look at a totally different method of installation from the traditional install, which is where the High Output Plant System (HOPS) came in.”

Network Rail ordered the £35m, 23-vehicle ‘factory train’ back in December 2011 from Windhoff Bahn- und Anlagentechnik GmbH. The machine, able to electrify an average of 1.6km of track per night, is making its real debut on the GWML this year.

Its three consists of trains, Watters explained: Consist 1a and 1b are for the foundations (piling and concrete respectively); Consist 2a is for the main steelwork; Consist 2b is for the SPS, auxiliary wiring and main line wiring; and Consist 3 is for the final works.

Watters said: “They’ll work six nights a week; we’re moving away from just working on a Saturday night.

“They’ll work adjacent line open, meaning passenger trains can still run, so we get longer to work at nights.

“We’re not just working in the traditional fourhour white periods; we plan to have seven to eight hour possessions depending on the section of line.”

She explained that the original invitation to tender detailed a number of key requirements of the equipment, such as the ability to construct an average of one tension length of OLE per shift, and to transit in traffic at 60mph.

Ninety-two staff will work on HOPS, about three-quarters of whom will be new starters trained to OLEC competence, and the rest of whom will be existing OLE linesmen with additional Series 1 training.

Watters’ presentation praised the Series 1 design by Furrer & Frey, with its mono-anchor booms, single insulator cantilevers / registrations, a reduced number of components and reduced flaking of wires.

Scope of the work needed to electrify Maidenhead-Cardiff

• Three new National Grid supply points (and a further one for Crossrail’s section)
• 30 autotransformer distribution sites
• Approximately 1,000km of single-track
• 16,000 pile foundations
• Circa 14,000 OLE structures
• 150+ structures to gauge clear
• Four major tunnels, including the Severn Tunnel with its water ingress problems
• One UNESCO World Heritage site at Bath

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