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New railway technology to save track workers thousands of hours on SWR

 New technology to help carry out overnight and maintenance work is set to be rolled out across the South Western Railway and will save track workers an extra 1,600 hours a year.

The railway technology will allow for a more efficient, safer way to turn off the power on the railway line through what is known as ‘faster safer isolations.’

It will give rail workers the equivalent of an extra 66 days a year to carry out vital overnight maintenance and renewal work.

The new technology will replace the “outdated and laborious” practice of ‘manual strapping’ which requires two workers to carry more than 30kg of equipment onto a live railway line.

Following a trial in the Guildford area, more than 450 of the devices will be installed across the South Western Railway Route by March next year, and a further 400 will follow over the next three years.

Around 2,500 work hours are currently spent each year doing manual strapping, but now one person will be able to drive out to a local control panel and operate a series of switches away from the live railway line.

The route managing director for Network Rail’s Wessex route, Berry Lumlock, said: “The window of time where our track staff are able to work on the railway overnight is one of the shortest in Britain, with the last and first train times on a weekday night typically 1:00am and 4:30am respectively.

“This incredible time saving technology will allow us to be more productive in this short window so we can carry out more vital maintenance work on our railway, giving our passengers more reliable journeys.

“It is also much safer for our workforce, keeping them off the live railway more of the time.”

More than 20 Network Rail staff are injured each year when using the old manual scrapping method, and Network Rail will says one of the busiest and most congested parts of the railway will now be more reliable and experience fewer delays.

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