Latest Rail News

10.10.12

New signalling power approach designed

A new approach to signalling could save Network Rail 33% of copper previously used to distribute power. The innovation will cut costs and reduce the company’s environmental footprint.

Previously, power was sent down three-core armoured cables to signals – known as class 1 distribution. The new class 2 system uses a two-core cable, which provides a reduction in weight, transport costs, laying costs and the cost of the cable.

The new technique is now being used in the Reading resignalling scheme.

Mark Southwell, Network Rail’s IP signalling programme director, said: “Simply put – the whole system of power transmission had to be redesigned, from the transformers to the switchgear.

“Normal 3-core cable has steel strands wound through it to protect it from rodent damage and other hazards – which also means that any fault will find its way to all the equipment it connects. A new form of armour had to be developed, along with double or reinforced insulation for signal housing and switchgear.

“Our engineers were also able to integrate identification features within the cable to allow it to be uniquely identified to Network Rail, helping to deter cable theft.”

Network Rail’s technical director Steve Yianni said: “Some signal projects use up to 200 tonnes of copper just in the cables, so we knew that if we could find a way of reducing that, then we could cut costs significantly, and reduce our environmental footprint.

“Using a class 2 signalling power system had always been thought of as impossible, or at least very difficult, but we proved it could be done.”

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