Reliable system supplier
As a European leader in the railway electrification sector, Powerlines Group GmbH operates as an engineering and installation company for the electrification of railway tracks and the construction of high voltage transmission lines. Through its products division, Powerlines also develops and delivers components and complete systems for railway electrification
Powerlines Group GmbH was founded during 2006 and has since grown into an international organisation that is active in the business segments of rail, products and energy. Indeed, the company today continues to operate from its headquarters in Wolkersdorf im Weinviertel, Austria and further manages a number of subsidiary locations across Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Benelux, Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, Poland and Slovakia. In total, Powerlines employs around 850 people across Europe.
Within the rail industry Powerlines Group designs and constructs overhead power lines, which are in use within local mass transit, standard rail routes and high-speed track sections. To this end the company provides its clients with overhead catenary systems and associated components, all of which are fully compliant with international specifications and delivered from a reliable single source. The range of services provided by Powerlines Group within the rail market encompasses everything from engineering and project planning, product delivery and installation to quality control, final inspection and maintenance. The company also incorporates dedicated teams of experts that provide detailed consultancy services and further offers rail clients additional support with several relevant training courses. Indeed, the Powerlines Group incorporates many years of international project management experience, excellent knowledge of the rail sector, an extensive modern vehicle and equipment pool and highly experienced installation teams. All this enables the company to meet a multitude of demanding market requirements.
“We are a specialist total system provider and this is especially true within the rail industry, where we can deliver everything needed to manage complex projects of any size. We provide contracting operations as well as project engineering services and design, installation and maintenance solutions. We are also able to deliver specialist components through our products division,” explains Powerlines Group CEO, Gerhard Ehringer. “We are committed to providing customers with the whole range of services, which is important because it makes us relatively unique within the market and differentiates us from other companies that might focus on providing only a single part of the overall solution.”
Indeed, Powerlines Group operates within both Central and Northern Europe across the three operational divisions rail, products and energy. In the energy transmission segment, the company installs, engineers and maintains high voltage power lines up to 400kV, while its products division delivers components that are primarily used within overhead rail systems. Powerlines A][Rail system additionally offers a 3rd rail solution for underground metro lines. In combination with the company’s broader-based service provision within the rail market, these activities allow Powerlines Group to manage a diverse business that is shielded from the peaks and troughs of the power infrastructure market. This further extends to the provision of professional contracting staff to enable the company to either undertake larger infrastructure projects on its own, or to support clients and sub-contractors to carry out projects that would normally be beyond their typical scope of operations.
“The environment for electrical infrastructure continues to experience both ups and downs, which is normal for this market. Our answer to this is further internalisation and we try to maintain a broad international footprint, which allows us to compensate for the volatility of the infrastructure sector. This again makes us fairly unique because we are able to provide equipment suitable for deployment within several different countries. We have many projects throughout Europe that further enable us to manage a very stable business that can maintain a high level of utilisation across the company,” Gerhard says. “We are also able to assist our clients with staffing options for projects and we have around 450 professional and experienced linesmen within the company. This makes us the biggest provider of linesmen capacity across Europe. Some of the projects that we have undertaken in the past within both Germany and Sweden – like the VDE 8 high speed route in Germany or Mjölby-Nässjö line in Sweden – have needed hundreds of linesmen and might not have been viable for smaller local businesses to take on. This ability to handle international large scale projects, along with our local proximity to customers, makes Powerlines unique and successful.”
This ability to provide high-quality products and competent, professional installation teams is becoming increasingly important within the UK, where the rail industry is undertaking a significant programme of electrification. In 2014 Powerlines Group GmbH and Carillion plc. established the joint venture CarillionPowerlines Ltd. to tender for large scale projects on the UK market. Network Rail contracted CarillionPowerlines Ltd. with the framework contracts for the two regions Central East Midlands and Scotland & North East. “Our two major projects in these regions are the Midland Main Line and the Shotts Line,” Gerhard notes. “The big challenge that we face at present is to maintain strong growth in both the UK and Germany and this means that we intend to grow our team with a further 100 linesmen, which of course brings its own challenges in terms of maintaining our high quality and safety standards. For this reason, we are investing in additional education and training and have recently established our own internal academy – PowerAcademy – where we can train our people to make sure that quality remains at a high level,” Gerhard concludes. “We see very attractive growth potential in our existing markets and would like to strengthen our position within Eastern Europe. This could be achieved via some strategic acquisitions and we would like to become more internationally established in our transmission lines business, in which our current primary focus is on German speaking markets, and in our product business, where we intend to become a supplier for customers worldwide.”