London Waterloo Lubrication trial

Successful Waterloo lubrication trial could save Network Rail money in the long term

Network Rail has reported a successful first trial of novel lubrication equipment at London Waterloo.

The lubrication equipment was utilised on switch and crossing equipment on the approach to the station.

The trial was started in response to the heavy amount of rolling stock fatigue (RCF) shown at the station which had in turn, caused a high turnover of switches and crossing units. The test period showed, once applied, the hydraulic lubricator helped reduce p8 and 053 defects and helping increase the lifespan of the trackwork.

For the initial test, it was decided to use platforms 1,2,3 and 4 at Waterloo, with a plunger activating a pump once a train wheel passed. The grease was then applied to the rails and grease picked up by the train wheels.

Alongside the successful trial, the new lubrication solution it is believed could help reduce maintenance cycles. The Track Authority had asked Network Rail to review the amount of Maintenance Standard Tasks (MSTs) which automatic lubrication systems are one of the most time-consuming.

This is especially true at London Waterloo with the current lubrication systems comprising of small 480cc canisters that have to be replaced at a maximum 28-day interval. The system used at Waterloo has to be installed on both sides of the track, rather than using a pipe system to distribute the grease.

As a result of the trial, Network Rail identified a projected cost saving of just over £18 million over a five-year period.

NR project manager, Neil Cassidy said: ‘It is easy to see the cost savings over time.

“There are 24 automatic lubrication systems at Waterloo on a 28-day replacement frequency, so we would look to fully complete the area by installing eight LB Foster units on a 42-day frequency. This affords an exceptional return on investment, as well as reducing the need for boots on ballast.”

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