How to add resilience to the rail network

07 February 2018
image of workers in a train tunnel
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Millions of people pass through Paddington station every year as they travel from A to B. Balancing the need to keep the route open with the demand for service and network improvements – like the Crossrail project – is a delicate operation.

To minimise disruption, the bulk of major rail projects are carried out during holidays like Easter and Christmas. So while many of us are dialling down, Amey’s rail team are gearing up to deliver complex improvement works within narrow timescales.

With projects like Crossrail, it’s all about the timing and we’ve seen what happens to journeys when things over run. So when we’re planning works on a crucial transport route like Paddington, we make meticulous plans to make sure that we get it right.

Our people play a huge part in this. When you only have a block of 10 days, like at Christmas 2016, to complete the work safely, making sure that you have the right people and skills to hand is absolutely critical. Our design engineers, installers, project engineers and support staff all work in unison, bringing together the full breadth of our expertise.

As part of the Network Rail works for Crossrail, we’ve been working on the project since 2011. Amey engineers designed the alterations to the signalling layout for the works on the north east section from Stratford out to Shenfield, and developed the outline designs for track and overhead line works on the western reaches around Maidenhead.

We have also been designing, building, and commissioning all the required signalling alterations at Acton, West Ealing, Southall and Heathrow Airport Junction including new signals, track circuits, points operating equipment and a bespoke Shunter’s control system for freight at Acton Yard. All of which is helping to deliver solutions that work, making train services run more smoothly.

The latest element of our long-running involvement on the Crossrail programme is an £11million upgrade to the power supplies. Not only are we growing our relationship as a trusted supplier to Network Rail by proving that we can deliver on our promises, but most importantly, we’re playing a key part in helping create better journeys across London and the South East.

The power upgrade includes a cutting edge electrical power design across 12 miles of track between Paddington and Hayes. We are the first people in the UK, and probably the world, to implement this kind of power system on the rail network. Not only will this system increase capacity whilst maximising reliability on the railway, it’s also safer to work with. And with our continuous focus on safety, this is a real advantage.

The upgrade is crucial to the future operation of Elizabeth line services as well as the modernisation of the Great Western Main Line. This system is adding real resilience to the network. In the event of a power failure, the signalling systems can be automatically re-fed from alternative supplies. This for us is the measure of great design work, where our solutions are improving the service provided to customers.

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