Network Rail, has recently funded a programme to install a variety of RRV’s with GKD SPACEGUARD. These machines are now capable of working adjacent lines open ‘ALO’ and under live ‘OLE’ and offer Network Rail greater flexibility when planning works. Allan J Hargreaves Plant Engineers have now completed the upgrade of 14 machines with this system, all machines were completed prior to the deadline of the 31st March 2014.

Phase 2 Direct Rail Wheel Braking

We are now undertaking Phase 2 of Network Rail’s funded programme to retrofit Direct Rail Wheel Braking to RRV’s that were not covered under the initial programme. We have had RR14 EVO’s and GENIE Z60’s machines approved by Network Rail, which have undertaken a battery of tests at the High Marnham test facility. To date 8 RR14 EVO’s and 8 GENIE Z60 machines are back in service with more machine variants currently going through the design phase.

Testing to begin on electrified Grenoble Line E tramway

Testing is set to begin on Grenoble’s new Line E tramway after a southern portion of the line was electrified earlier this month.

The €290 million line, which is due to go into operation in June next year, will become Grenoble’s fifth tram line, connecting the north and west of the city between Fontanil and Cornillon.

Alstom has supplied and installed seven substations along the route and will continue installing electrification equipment until September.

Private-sector partner sought for Renfe freight business

The Spanish government is to begin tendering for a private-sector partner to support Renfe’s new freight operations.

Last year, the government announced plans to restructure the state-owned operator. This included merging freight and logistics subsidiaries Irion, Multi and Contren into a single freight division.

Renfe will be split into four different organisations spanning the current passenger and freight operations as part of a liberalisation programme designed to create a level playing field for private operators in the Spanish market.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has said it also plans to establish its new rolling stock leasing arm in April – another element of the restructure.

Private operators are also expected to be allowed to bid for a selection of long-distance and high-speed services for the first time this year.

Green light for Newcastle rail academy

Approval has been given to build a new £5 million rail engineering academy in North East England.

Gateshead Council has backed the planned development which has been designed to meet a growing demand for skills within the industry.

Newcastle College has said its new site will feature ‘state-of-the-art training rooms and workshops as well as industry standard equipment, such as track and junction boxes’.

The academy, which is due to open in September 2014, will offer courses for both new entrants and employers looking to up-skill their existing workforce.

Robin Ghurbhurun, deputy principal at Newcastle College said: “There are incredible changes taking place in the rail sector and our investment in the Rail Academy will help to put the region on the map in terms of world-class training and skills for the railway engineering sector.

“The Government has committed to spending billions to upgrade the rail network in the next 20 to 30 years creating thousands of job opportunities, so it is critical that the industry has access to the very best training and higher level skills.

“Our investment in the rail academy is very exciting and will support the Government with its plans to bring rail into the 21st Century.”

First private customer orders TRAXX locomotives

A subsidiary of Paribus-DIF-Netz-West-Lokomotiven has become the first private-sector company to place on order for Bombardier TRAXX diesel multi-engine locomotives.

Paribus-DIF-Netz-West-Waggon has contracted the manufacturer to build 15 vehicles in an order worth around €60 million.

The contract, which includes an option for five additional locomotives, will also see Bombardier fulfill a €5 million maintenance and servicing contract.

Paribus-DIF is a joint venture between the German investment management company Paribus Capital GmbH and the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF).

Paribus-DIF was awarded a contract by Landesverkehrsgesellschaft Schleswig-Holstein (LVS) to lease new vehicles to operate passenger services Hamburg to Westerland/Sylt.

Bombardier will deliver the new fleet from its site in Kassel from 2015.

Contractor appointed for Paris Line 14 extension

An Eiffage Travaux Publics and Razel-Bec joint venture has been appointed to complete the civils work for the northern extension of Paris Metro’s Line 14.

The contract covers the construction of a 3.6-kilometre length of tunnel and the first two new stations at Pont Cardinet and Porte de Clichy.

Eiffage and Razel-Bec will deliver the first section of a new metro tunnel which will eventually stretch for 5.8 kilometres and connect four new stations; Pont Cardinet, Porte de Clichy, Saint-Ouen and Mairie de Saint-Ouen.

The extension will link to regional RER services, the T3 tramway to Porte d’ Asnieres and Line L of the Transilien.

RATP hopes that the project will free up capacity on Line 13, with 25 per cent of the line’s passengers expected to transfer to the automated services.

The line was extended south with the opening of the new Olympiades station in 2007 and in December last year STIF approved a €450 million metro project financing agreement, allowing the main structural works to begin this year.

Bottle it!

We do things very differently nowadays. Mechanical and technological evolution – not to mention health and safety – has completely rewritten the railway engineering text books since the Victorians first filled them with pioneering insight. Writes Graeme Bickerdike

It was a primitive business back then, relying upon man’s courage and ferocity assisted by horses, explosives, hand tools and the musings of Archimedes. Machinery didn’t really make its presence felt until the 1870s, by which time the core railway network had already been forged. And when it subsequently came to maintenance, the extent to which safety played second fiddle to performance would today make even the most audacious engineer’s toes curl.

Witness the early life of Cwmcerwyn Tunnel, 1,012 yards in length and host to summit level on the Port Talbot Railway which meandered through the Llynvi, Garw and Dyffryn valleys in search of coal to export. Opened in 1897 after 18 months exertion, its contractors encountered mixed strata as they cut through the hill, so construction methodology varied also. In some places sidewalls were dispensed with but elsewhere inverts had to be installed. Ground movement was apparent from the outset, distorting the lining by as much as 20 inches. Strengthening work was programmed in 1898 and 1902, adding concrete inverts and heavy timber struts at the toe of the sidewalls. But the gradual crushing of the arch continued, prompting the decision to reconstruct 60 yards of tunnel in 1908.

Cwmcerwyn was not generously proportioned, built only for a single track. And yet one overriding priority came down from on high: traffic must not be disrupted. So the successful tenderers, Messrs Perry & Co, developed a mobile canopy to separate the trains from the workforce as they hacked away brickwork and fitted cast iron segments in 20-inch wide rings. The canopy, 12 feet in length, provided a 4-inch clearance around maximum loading gauge whilst the poor souls outside it laboured in a space less than three feet wide.

Loaded mineral trains stopped in the tunnel whilst a crew member pinned the brakes down in preparation for the long 1:40 descent from the west portal. This resulted in the tunnel being filled with choking smoke for as long as 20 minutes, rendering work impossible until it cleared. Yet despite this impediment, progress wasmadeatarateoffiverings-or8feet4inches-per week. The job was substantively finished in six months, without hardhats or injury.

Hit the ground running

A century and 160 miles away in Lancashire, Network Rail faces a similar challenge on the Copy Pit route between Hall Royd Junction – east of Todmorden on the Caldervale line – and Gannow Junction where the Colne branch converges. Since 9 November last year, replacement buses have been ferrying passengers over the hill between Burnley Manchester Road and Hebden Bridge/Todmorden stations while engineers complete a programme of remedial works at Holme Tunnel which will see the structure partly repaired, partly rebuilt.

The project’s whys and wherefores were examined in Issue 109 of The Rail Engineer (November 2013), but it’s worth reminding ourselves briefly of the background. Opened in 1849, the 265-yard tunnel penetrates a spur of land below Thieveley Scout, part of the ridge that forms the south-west side of the Cliviger Valley. Several rotational landslips have occurred here resulting in unstable ground.

SettingArch(Amco) [online]

Photo: Amco.

Since the 1970s, an increasing number of defects have been recorded in the tunnel, with the situation at the south (Todmorden) end becoming sufficiently serious to warrant the installation of 152 steel ribs between 1986 and 1991. However the degradation continued to a point where the Up-side haunch was displaced by as much as 320mm, forcing the crown upwards by 180mm. Loss of gauge clearance led to the introduction of a 20mph PSR. In terms of long-term performance, it’s not difficult to understand Network Rail’s motivation in restoring the tunnel’s structural integrity through the current intervention.Eighteen months in the planning, the physical works got underway over the summer of 2013 with a series of possessions taken to inject grout behind the lining, improving the strength and cohesion of the ground. This proved a significant task – consuming around 450,000 litres of grout – but it contributed to the safe breaking out of the existing brickwork. Alongside this, 87 new steel arches were being fabricated by Barnshaws in Wolverhampton whilst Hanson, from Derby, manufactured the accompanying concrete inverts. These elements form part of the design, developed by Donaldson Associates, for the reconstruction of the lining at the south end.

The project team moved onto site in May after Network Rail acquired a parcel of agricultural land alongside the railway to serve as a compound and access point. These will be retained for maintenance purposes once the work here is done; the existing facilities 150 yards down the line are limited for space.

Amco Rail is fulfilling the role of design and build contractor. Critically they bring with them years of experience in the mining industry. For the 20 weeks of the blockade, the tunnel is effectively an oversized colliery roadway; forget the fact that trains will soon be running through it. The solution being applied here is known in the trade as a back-rip, a technique that’s been used below ground for hundreds of years.

Every picture

What strikes you most when venturing through the south portal is the intrusive and brutal nature of the work. That, and the determination. The section being rebuilt extends 87 metres in from the Todmorden end. Immediately apparent is the change in profile between the old displaced steelwork in the foreground and the 52 new arches that had previously been installed beyond. It’s an image that tells you much about the forces exerted on the lining over its lifetime.

The operation is cyclical, ongoing around the clock to meet a tight programme. The methodology has evolved a little through experience, with previously sequential activities now taking place concurrently. In overview it involves the withdrawal of four existing arches together with the associated cess casings and invert. A 1.5 metre section of lining – which was pre-cut at the start of the blockade – is removed, the ground trimmed and rockfall protection mesh fitted. Precast concrete invert units are then laid and angled steelwork bolted to it to support the arches which come in three sections, connected by flexible temporary joints. An excavator fitted with a bespoke attachment lifts them into place. The sequence is repeated until 12 metres has been completed, after which the invert and cesses are poured and a 420mm lining sprayed using fibre- reinforced concrete.

While the theory sounds neat and tidy when condensed into five sentences, reality brings variables with it – and therein lies the challenge. That’s why this project is not being driven by railwaymen or civil engineers; the Network Rail team has stepped back a little and placed its faith in Amco, an approach that pays dividends for both. They regard theirs as probably the best client/ contractor relationship either has ever encountered. That’s some assertion. Peter Shrader, Network Rail’s senior construction manager, tells me that “Your headline will be ‘Collaborative working delivers success!’” It’s better in the body text, Pete, but the truth behind that sentiment is apparent to even the casual visitor. When an ORR inspector appeared before Christmas, his feedback read “If we could bottle what’s happening here, I’d be out of a job.”

Big bang theory

The ground here changes yard by yard. “When we first set off back in November we had perfect conditions,” recalls Amco’s project manager Dave Thomas. “We thought we’d won the lottery.” The compressive forces of the ground movement had been such that, even when the brickwork was removed, the formerly-broken material behind it held in a perfect arch.

But it was always expected that things would deteriorate as they retreated towards the portal. A number of roof falls have occurred including one just before Christmas of more than 100 cubic metres. To ensure complacency never creeps in, the release of stored energy in the ground can suddenly launch large pieces of stone across the tunnel. You can see then why Amco’s Keith John, in the weeks before the blockade, spent time on the road looking for the right men: familiar, trusted faces in established gangs who travel the country from job to job.

There’s something unique about miners as anyone who grew up amongst them – as I did in West Yorkshire – will testify. The nature of their shared experiences strongly binds them together and this works to everyone’s advantage. There are two teams of six here, mostly with roots in South Wales. They change shifts at 07:00 and 19:00 but their commitment extends beyond those booked times. Supporting them are 20 skilled operatives per shift, bringing materials in and taking debris out. Their role is to ensure that the back-rip never stops.

Dealing with roof falls follows a set procedure: clear away the debris, spray in concrete to cork the ground, set the arch ring, shutter off the void and pump expanding foam into it. A resin is then injected to compress the foam, effectively preventing the ground from breathing. All this eats into the schedule by about two days on each occasion. To strengthen the ground adjacent to the Up sidewall and thus provide more support to the shoulder, a recent addition to the operation has involved the localised injection of Wilkit resin – a silicate-based system that sets to form a compact grout. It’s expensive but promises long-term benefits. This activity has been taking place on weekend nights so as not to interfere with the main works.

Moving on

Muck gives way to water as you move beyond the heavy industry of the rebuild. That familiar tunnel drip- drip-drip provides the day shift with an assortment of maintenance and remedial tasks. Amongst these is the installation of cess drainage, tied into the new six-foot drain, to collect water as it runs down the lining. Through this section, the issue is fracturing of the brickwork rather than lateral movement so extensive recasing is apparent – rather more than was initially anticipated.

The north (Burnley) portal has been repointed and de-veged ahead of drainage being installed above the headwall. The more intrusive works are at the other end where the Todmorden portal has been completely dismantled to allow its reconstruction in concrete. This will be refaced with the original masonry. Behind it, the hill has been raked back slightly and trees removed to allow a new drainage system to be put in. There is then a 650 metre track relay to be delivered by Stobart Rail before trains start to run again on 24 March and the PSR finally disappears.

Sooner or later, whether it takes months or decades, nature will attempt to reclaim what the railway has taken from her by driving its tunnels. Cwmcerwyn was under pressure from the outset; Holme proved more resilient but eventually succumbed. However, Network Rail and Amco are ensuring that the Copy Pit route will not suffer the same fate as the Port Talbot Railway which saw its last traffic in 1964. Key to their success in difficult circumstances has been a partnership approach. As they prepare to move onto their next projects, Dave reflects “It’s a shame it’s got to end!” Hopefully they’ll take the same spirit with them.

TodmordenPortal(FourByThree) [online]

Photo: Four by Three.

US states order Siemens passenger locomotives

The US states of Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington have placed an order with Siemens for a new fleet dual-mode passenger locomotives.

In a contract worth around $225 million (€165 million), Siemens will build 32 diesel-electric units at its site in Sacramento, California, for regional and mainline services across the USA.

The order includes an option for 225 additional locomotives, with the first batch due to be delivered between 2016 and 2017.

Siemens has committed to procuring all of the new Charger locomotives’ components from the domestic US market. Indiana-based Cummins has already been confirmed as the engine supplier.

The vehicles have a maximum speed of 200 km/h and are based on the Eurosprinter, Eurorunner and Vectron locomotives currently operating in Europe.

Jochen Eickholt, chief executive of the Siemens Rail Systems Division, said: “For Siemens this order marks our entry into the US diesel-electric locomotive market and strongly underscores our long-term vision for the US passenger rail market.”

Last month, US Vice President Joe Biden attended the inauguration of the first of 70 Siemens Cities Sprinter locomotives ordered by Amtrak for the Northeast Corridor.