Published on : Monday, April 11, 2016
As part of its £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan, Network Rail has completed a £29million upgrade to the track and foundation of the railway between Basingstoke and Eastleigh in half the usual time by using state-of-the-art track renewal and ballast cleaning machines.
The renewal project has replaced 25km of track and over 64,000 tonnes of ballast, the stone foundation to the railway, requiring a total of nearly 38,000 new railway sleepers. The High Output Ballast Cleaner, which replaces the ballast beneath the track to improve the drainage, has been working five nights a week since the end of September 2015, while the two pieces of kit have been used together overnight for the first time since January.
This is also the first time the High Output Ballast Cleaner has been used on a railway powered by a ‘third rail’, whereby the electrical current to power the trains is on the floor (as opposed to overhead as it is on many other lines). The Alliance between Network Rail and South West Trains also meant more work could be carried out in the available time, as the two organisations worked together to get engineers the access to the railway needed while keeping passengers and freight moving.
John Halsall, Route Managing Director at Network Rail, said: “We’re delighted to deliver this fantastic upgrade, not only in record time but with minimal disruption to passengers. The machinery that we have used represents superb value, both in the cost of completing the works and the speed at which we can work, particularly the fact that we can operate overnight rather than closing the line at weekends.
“The number of passengers using the railway is now at its highest point ever and continues to grow. This stretch of railway is also intensively used for freight movements in and out of Southampton docks, so it is vital that we keep upgrading the infrastructure in the most efficient way possible. I’d like to thank our lineside neighbours for bearing with us during this vital work.”
The two renewal systems are operated by teams of around 40 of Network Rail’s ‘orange army’, five nights a week. The teams were able to renew twice as much track and ballast as would have been possible in the same time using traditional methods.
Christian Roth, Managing Director for South West Trains, said: “This part of our railway is one of the busiest and most intensively used in the country and therefore carrying out regular maintenance is vital to ensuring safe and reliable journeys for millions of passengers every year.
“This is also a first for the railway as it is the first time this equipment has been used on a ‘third rail’ railway, whereby the electrical current to power the trains is on the floor. As a result it has taken a tremendous amount of teamwork to show the equipment can work here and we’re delighted with the end result.”
The work is carried out by two machines, one designed to renew the track and one designed to replace the ballast foundations. The ballast cleaner alone stretches for approximately half a mile, weighs around 3,000 tonnes, and is able to renew around 400 yards of ballast every night, approximately twice the distance that conventional methods would achieve.
The two machines will now be taken in for scheduled maintenance before moving around the country to continue the national track upgrade scheme.
Source:- Network Rail