Rail Industry Focus

15.11.16

Making rail history

Source: RTM Oct/Nov 16

An innovative approach to partnership working has helped S&C North Alliance make rail history on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) by delivering the UK’s first 125mph handback on a S&C renewal. Neil Johnson, alliance director, explains why collaboration is the key to making line speed handbacks the norm.

With the ever increasing focus on improving rail safety and passenger experience, building high-quality, reliable infrastructure that helps to reduce delays and get passengers to their destinations on time is one of the biggest challenges we face. 

The critical component to overcoming these challenges is making sure that we have the right blend of skills and expertise to get the job done. This was exactly the aim when Network Rail created the S&C North Alliance – a partnership between AmeySersa and Network Rail that brings together public and private sector experience to deliver S&C renewals and enhancement works across the northern half of Great Britain. 

This alliance delivery model is a departure from the more typical client-contractor approach and is centred on taking a collaborative approach to putting our customers and rail passengers at the front and centre. 

UK first: 125mph S&C handback 

Typically, after engineering work, a temporary speed restriction is put into place to allow the ballast to settle, which can cause disruptions and delays to passenger journeys and additional costs to our route customers.  

After two years of making incremental increases to the handback speed, the Alliance has delivered the UK’s first S&C 125mph line speed handback on the ECML – thanks to the adoption of new techniques and partnership working to embed a progressively assured ‘right first time’ approach.

Tactically, achieving the 125mph handback required the team to look at every step of the track renewal process in detail to work out how to achieve and demonstrate the narrow tolerances required. 

Advanced engineering techniques were deployed: 3D dozing to get the bottom stone to an agreed tolerance of its absolute design co-ordinates on excavation, and the use of a Road Rail Variomatic Bomag roller to compact the bottom ballast to a measured and recorded uniform stiffness – an important quality control measure which has previously been unavailable. 

For the first time on any S&C project, Dynamic Track Stabilisation was used, which vertically loads and laterally vibrates the track providing the equivalent compaction of around 100,000 tonnes of rail traffic or 100 high-speed trains passing over the infrastructure with each application, almost eliminating the in traffic settling period. 

This achievement is not only good news for passengers: track installed to the high-quality standards needed to reopen the line at 125mph lasts longer, is more reliable and the whole of life cost of maintaining the asset is much lower. 

In 2015 alone, the Alliance delivered the UK’s first 90mph S&C handback at Craigentinny, near Edinburgh, saving over 1,000 delay minutes – and, later in the same year, re-opened sites at Doncaster and Marshgate at speeds of up to 120mph, delivering more than £400,000 in delay-related Schedule 8 costs for the LNE route.

A melting pot of knowledge and ideas 

These benefits have been delivered through a continued focus on incremental lean production and improving track quality, and this has been driven by collaborating working. The alliance model has built a truly integrated team with joint accountability. 

Bringing the designer and installer into one organisation – often under one roof – has reduced duplication, improved knowledge sharing and made planning the work much more effective. This one team approach means that all participants in the Alliance share the same challenges, but also share the same sense of pride when everything goes to plan, driving the team to keep delivering the small changes that add up to big improvements that make ‘right first time’ a reality. 

We’re really proud to achieve such a major milestone on an S&C project in Britain, in what is a significant step forward in making high-speed handback the norm after engineering work.  We’re continually looking at new ways to refine our working practices and are looking forward to following out these new techniques to improve performance, delivery and reduce delays on other sites in the future.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

A short video about the 125mph handback can be viewed at:

W: www.vimeo.com/185816235

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

 

Comments

Pdeaves   24/11/2016 at 14:23

The article is missing something important. *Where* was this achievement made? We are told of previous developments at Craigentinny, Doncaster and Marshgate but not the headline site!

Gareth Dennis   10/01/2017 at 20:58

This isn't technically correct - British Rail Eastern Region handed back hundreds of renewals sites at 125mph in the 90s by making use of dynamic track stabilisers... We've just forgotten about it as an industry!

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

View all News

rail industry focus

View all News

editor's comment

03/07/2017Rapid progress needed

As RTM went to press, the National Infrastructure Commission outlined a list of the ‘top 12’ immediate priorities on which ministers must make rapid progress in the next year. Unsurprisingly, major rail schemes, including HS2, Crossrail 2 and HS3, featured highly in the projects that needed speedy development.  Lord Adonis stated that all of these have been agreed in principle, “but require decisive action to get them moving in the new Parliament. They ought to... read more >

last word

How do tram and rail passengers compare?

How do tram and rail passengers compare?

David Sidebottom, director at Transport Focus, analyses the drivers in performance of passenger satisfaction in tram compared to rail. Results published in our recent Tram Passenger Survey (TPS) have seen remarkable levels of satisfaction by the six operators we covered in Blackpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheff... more > more last word articles >

interviews

A game changer for Wales and Borders

17/07/2017A game changer for Wales and Borders

Andy Thomas, managing director for Network Rail’s Wales route, describes how the infrastr... more >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Triple electrification cancellation – a misstep from Grayling?

25/07/2017Triple electrification cancellation – a misstep from Grayling?

Following last week’s comprehensive set of announcements about HS2 and the closure of Parliament for recess, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there wouldn’t be any more news about major rail projects on the horizon anytime soon. But having sparked anger after cancelling key sections of three major electrification prog... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

How can the new government support rail freight?

20/07/2017How can the new government support rail freight?

Following the recent general election, Maggie Simpson, executive director at the Rail Freight Group, considers what action the government can tak... more >
Building a sustainable future for rail services in Wales

20/07/2017Building a sustainable future for rail services in Wales

Geoff Ogden, interim managing director at Transport for Wales (TfW), talks to RTM about how the organisation is putting sustainable development a... more >
A potential benchmark for engineering quality and architectural design

20/07/2017A potential benchmark for engineering quality and architectural design

Victoria Hills, chief executive officer at the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), gives RTM an update on the work to create a... more >
Simple changes for energy efficiency

20/07/2017Simple changes for energy efficiency

Michelle Papayannakos, rail sustainability specialist at the RSSB, argues that improving the way energy is managed should be a high priority for ... more >