Rail Industry Focus

01.11.15

Never underestimate the assurance process

Source: RTM Oct/Nov 2015

Chris Wilson, project engineering manager for Great Western Route Modernisation at Network Rail, discusses the complexities of parallel systems development and delivery.

Engineers have been told to never underestimate the time it takes to get safety authorisation approvals or specification agreement for devices as part of electrification projects.

Chris Wilson, project engineering manager on Great Western Route Modernisation (GWRM) at Network Rail, told delegates at a recent IET seminar (see page 37) that process safety case authorisation can often take double the amount of time planned.

“If you think it will take 20 weeks, it will take 40. If you think it is going to take 40 it will take 80,” he said. “We are all learning – ourselves [Network Rail] and the authorisation bodies, as the new legislation isn’t that long embedded. We have to understand that. The number of bodies we need to go to seems to increase on a weekly basis.”

He advised those involved with project engineering, which covers all engineering aspects from concept to completion, to talk with authorisation bodies early in the process, as they all have slightly different requirements.

“Unless you talk to them and find out what their requirements are, you are designing yourself to fail,” said Wilson.

Roger White, chair of the of the IET’s Railway Electrification and Infrastructure School, who hosted the event, asked whether the industry had the best system in place for dealing with the assurance process.

Wilson replied: “Do we have the best system we could? No. Is it providing the level of assurance it needs to? Yes. How do we improve it? I don’t know.”

He said the most recent technical specifications for interoperability (TSIs) are starting to “bite” and cause “issues”.

For instance, the use of ‘selfie sticks’ near the railway is just one factor driving up OLE clearance. “It is [about] managing the electrical safety, but it is also about trying to manage the cause of the problem,” said Wilson. “One of the main issues is…people. I’ve never known a project talk quite so much about the selfie stick [being used near the railway]. It is this sort of situation that is driving the clearance up to 3.5m, and the risk and the problems it is causing us on a restricted grid railway.”

Designing out problems

The virtues of 3D modelling were extolled by Wilson, as his team are using the technology more and more. It allows the team to see potential issues, such as misplaced structures in the design, to spot those problems on the operational railway.

While doing the design management, one of the problems the GWRM team has had, because of the lack of overhead line resource, is that it is using offices around the world from various organisations. This creates issues with time zones and with a different understanding of the UK market and Series 1.

“We have offices in Britain, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Bangalore and Australia, who are all within the GWRM design teams for overhead line and are supplying designs,” said Wilson.  “So there are conference calls at silly o’clock in the morning and evening to make sure the design is of the right quality to be built.”

One things always forgotten, added Wilson, is how long it actually takes to agree a specification for a device. “We have had 25kv switches for years, why is it so difficult? Well, when you tie it in with everything else that is coming along it does take time.

“It is not just the switch it is the testing, the proving and the product acceptance. All these things need to be thought about early to ensure you have the full suite of parts available to actually go away and develop your system.”

He said there is a “whole world of pain” for re-work and re-development.

Access and possession of the line for GWRM has been one of the main issues during electrification, but delegates were told an important aspect to tie into this is knowing the lead time of equipment. “Not everything is available off-the-shelf,” said Wilson. “You could have all the access and the plant that you need, but if you don’t have the mast you need to put up then nothing happens.

“You can do all your design work, surveys and sometimes products don’t actually work. Then you might need more access and need to re-evaluate your design. Tied to this is that the end day never moves.”

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

View all News

rail industry focus

View all News

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the TOC, gives RTM an update on the innovative scheme. Recognising that young people are more likely to take a risk trespassing on railway tracks, C... more > more last word articles >

interviews

Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio ... more >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

14/11/2019Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

Rail Technology Magazine’s Matt Roberts explains the significant role data can play within the future development of the rail industry. Standing as a cornerstone of the UK transport network, the rail industry is forever striving to innovate and maximise efficiency in all aspects of its work. Data is just one such way of achievi... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >
Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

02/07/2019Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

Smart electrification is the way to boost clean energy resources, argues Leo Murray, director at 10:10 Climate Action. Contractors are clear... more >
Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

02/07/2019Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

The TCR Midlands conference is only days away and tickets are going fast for the sector event of the year at the Vox Conference Centre in Birming... more >