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High Output Plant System a ‘step change’ for electrification

Network Rail has released new pictures of the factory train that will allow it to electrify the Great Western Main Line far more efficiently and quickly than any previous scheme.

The High Output Plant System (HOPS), manufactured by Windhoff Bahn- und Anlagentechnik GmbH, will build electrical infrastructure as it travels along 235 route miles.

The £40m, 23-vehicle train carries all equipment with it, and will operate six nights a week with adjacent lines open for business at speed. HOPS’ top speed is 60mph and aims to sink 30 piles per shift between Swansea and Maidenhead. It is able to electrify an average of 1.6km per night.

Network Rail aims to have electric trains running by 2018 on the route.

Project director for Network Rail, Western and Wales, Robbie Burns, said: “Electrifying the Great Western is a big challenge but the benefits for passengers and the wider economy will be equally huge. Electric trains are more reliable, cleaner, accelerate faster and use less energy. Their fuel cost is 45 % lower than diesel trains, and they are also cheaper to maintain.

“But electrifying such a long stretch of line in such a short timeframe, while also making sure passengers can still take trains to where they want to go, is a challenge we need new technology to meet.

“The factory train will allow us to work overnight, when the network is less busy, and will also mean we can keep trains running. It’s a step change in the way we work in the UK and we are looking forward to starting next year.”

Network Rail awarded Amey the contract to operate, deliver and maintain the GWML electrification project early in 2012. OLE technical manager at Amey Anne Watters spoke about the process and the factory train and its various consists in the June/July 2013 edition of RTM: see here.

She 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 four-hour 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.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]



Nonsuchmike   03/08/2013 at 19:47

This is brilliant. The sooner they start and get this machine working, the better. If they can construct a machine to do all this at such a rapid rate, how come they can't catch these thieving bar-stewards who rip up cable and important communications for the line and signals? Shouldn't be beyond the wit of man to devise infra-red technology and identification systems to catch these rogues who are costing the rest of US (tax payers) millions of quid each week.

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