Latest Rail News

16.02.17

Pioneering engineering technique to save £250,000 a week trialled by NR

A pioneering “world-first” approach to railway engineering designed to improve efficiency and reduce delays to passengers is being trialled by Network Rail.

“Formation flying” is the latest in a series of new techniques that have so far saved Network Rail over £5m and could potentially go on to save the taxpayer-funded company £250,000 a week.

Disruption can occur to passenger services after major track updates due to speed restrictions placed on freshly laid track to ensure the ballast has settled and formed a solid formation.

However, Formation Flying, which involves a pair of engineering trains being joined together by an umbilical and ran in parallel, delivers tamping and dynamic track stabilisation simultaneously, which simulates the equivalent of 200 trains passing over the track.

This will eliminate the need for speed restrictions after works have been done to tracks, and save Network Rail money in compensation paid out to customers on late services.

Trials at Sandy in Bedfordshire on a set of railway switches and crossings were successful and now Network Rail will look to use Formation Flying to repair and renew the 20,000 miles of track it looks after.

Network Rail’s programme director for track, Steve Featherstone, said: “We monitored the work at Sandy during the weekend and had progressive assurance throughout to make sure we built everything to the highest possible quality levels. This allowed trains to run at 125mph right away – the first time we’ve achieved this on a crossing.

He added: “Ultimately this is about passengers. Our new techniques mean we can handback the railway safely, on time and with no speed restrictions meaning passengers get to their destination on time and as planned.”

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Comments

Jerry Alderson   17/02/2017 at 17:45

It's good to see NR doing something to bring down costs. This seems such a simple idea, why hasn't it been done before? Are other countries doing this?

Lutz   19/02/2017 at 00:09

I would be interested to know more about this technique; the article and picture seems to imply that the vehicles are operated in tandem on two adjacent tracks but it is not clear to me how this achieves the benefit.

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