Rail powerhouse delivers UK’s first 125mph switches and crossings handback

Lyndsay Laird, Senior Media Manager
21 September 2016
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S&C North Alliance – a powerhouse partnership between rail infrastructure consultants, AmeySersa and Network Rail – achieved a UK first after successfully delivering a 125mph line speed handback on an East Coast Main Line switch and crossing project this weekend (16 – 19 September).

Traditionally, ballast needs to settle after renewal projects and speed restrictions are put in place to help the ballast to consolidate safely under normal rail traffic. In this case, the S&C North Alliance team used a combination of advanced engineering techniques to ensure the ballast was compacted within the weekend work, eliminating the in traffic settling period.

Neil Johnson, Alliance Director at S&C North Alliance, explains:
“Switches and crossing schemes are already complex, and delivering a line speed handback brings the additional challenge of ensuring absolute precision at every stage of the project; we maximised the use of existing technology and techniques to achieve this.

This approach is used routinely on track renewals but this is the first time it has been successfully completed on a switch and crossing project in the UK and is a testament to the hard work and expertise of our team.”

The ability to handback switch and crossing projects at line speed will help prevent delays associated with speed restrictions – particularly on high speed routes like the East Coast Main Line. Increased accuracy during installation also helps the track perform better, improves reliability and makes it easier to maintain in the long run – therefore reducing the whole life cost of the asset.

Steve Featherstone, Network Rail’s Programme Director for IP Track said:
“Being able to handback switches and crossing projects at line speed means better track quality, significantly less disruption and better passenger journeys. This latest achievement is just one of the major milestones reached by the team and I’d like to thank them for their great work over the weekend.

The news follows a number of other 125mph line speed handback achievements for the industry including; high-speed handbacks of plain line track in January and high-speed handbacks of high output ballast cleaning operations in September. The breakthrough of now being able to utilise these techniques in a complex switches and crossing setting has the potential to further reduce passenger disruption and save the industry money.”

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