Understanding infrastructure
A new £4.8 million engineering research programme, led by Newcastle University, that will examine how long linear infrastructure assets, such as road and railway slopes, pipeline bedding and flood protection structures, can be better maintained and monitored to make them more resilient for the future, has been announced by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The research programme, Assessment, Costing and enHancement of long life Long Linear Assets, dubbed ACHILLES – involves experts from the universities of Newcastle, Southampton, Durham, Loughborough, Leeds and Bath, as well as the British Geological Survey, major infrastructure owners and their consultants.

Newcastle University’s Professor Stephanie Glendinning, project lead, explained: “The aim is to gain a better understanding of the way that linear infrastructure deteriorates under increasing environmental pressure, and to use this understanding to improve investment decisions.

“Through this research, we hope to be able to change the way new infrastructure is designed, such as HS2; understand how ageing infrastructure is adapted and how investment strategies are formulated to enable physical and operational resilience.”

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Executive Chair, added: “This investment will link the aims of reducing infrastructure failures and transforming infrastructure maintenance, and therefore help the UK become more resilient and prosperous. The research has gained considerable interest from industry and will have a direct impact on a range of activities, potentially improving safety and reducing costs.”

The right connection
TE Connectivity (TE) has introduced a new range of inserts for heavy duty connectors that comply with the EN45545 European standard on flame retardancy for materials and products in railway rolling stock.

The modular inserts provide customers with a high level of flexibility when configuring railway connector systems. They can be configured to hold anywhere from 1 to 216 pins and enable signal, data and power to be transmitted via one single connector. The EN45545 standard includes specifications on fire, smoke and toxicity (FST) compliance. It provides three classifications of hazard level, HL1, HL2 and HL3, with HL3 being the highest. The new inserts from TE meet R22 and R23 requirement set on level HL3. They have an operating temperature range that extends from minus 45 to 125 degrees Celsius.

“TE has a strong commitment to the safety and reliability of its products and the systems in which they are used,” says Product Manager Ewa Bazior. “We endeavour to anticipate and often surpass specifications contained in regulations and standards around the world. These new connector inserts are just one case in point. At the same time, we go the extra mile to make our customers lives easier, through innovations such as the simplicity of configuration for signal, data and power connection that we have here.”

Water solution
Drainage 150Polypipe has supplied two surface water drainage and wastewater management solutions for the £23 million King Street Train Depot in Blackburn, keeping a key infrastructure project on time and on budget.

Polypipe worked with main contractor Buckingham Group to supply a system to manage stormwater gathered across the trainyard and direct it to a nearby river. Polypipe’s technical experts were able to demonstrate through structural calculations how a Ridgistorm-XL large diameter piping system would help to minimise the build-up of sediment and could be installed more quickly.

A 750mm diameter Ridgistorm-XL system was engineered to specific stiffness classes to meet the site’s ground and loading conditions, with RIDGISTORMCheck Chambers installed to manage the flow of water out of the tank. The system was jointed using Ridgistorm-XL ring seals and was installed at depths ranging from 1.35m to 2.25m across the site.

A second system was designed to manage the waste water from the cleaning and servicing of the trains by discharging it into the established sewer system. This solution required 1280 Polystorm cells situated beneath the train servicing area to gather and attenuate surface water, with Polystorm Access and Polystorm Inspect components strategically placed across the system for access and maintenance.

The water is dispersed from the attenuation tanks through a system of RIDGISTORMCheck Chambers, designed to control the discharge flow of water at precise rates through use of penstocks, manufactured to specification. RIDGISTORMSeparate Catchpits are used to separate the water from other particles with petrol interceptors and hydro-breakers to ensure safe and clean discharges into the local water networks.

Low cost, digital-ready
On 26 March, Siemens successfully completed the commissioning of the final stage of the North Wales Coast (NWC) Resignalling Programme, which features the company’s low cost, digital-readyLow Cost 150 signalling solution. The commissioning of the new signalling system forms part of a £50 million investment by Network Rail on the North Wales coast as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan.

Siemens’ solution has been developed specifically to allow rural and secondary lines such as NWC to be cost-effectively upgraded. Using templated designs, standardised plug-and-play equipment and off-site hangar testing, the system has at its heart simplicity of design and fast and efficient installation and delivers significant benefits for Network Rail, the rail operating companies, and ultimately, the passenger.

Although the low-cost signalling technology was proven, the cost and efficiency of the delivery process was not and the NWC programme was identified as an ideal project to monitor and assess this critical element of the overall solution. Now complete, the project has demonstrated more than 25 per cent saving in cost compared to a conventional solution, with the investment expected to generate a return within ten years on operational and maintenance costs alone.

Overseas venture
Keltbray Group has signed a memorandum of understanding with infrastructure development company Aecon in Canada with a view to developing a Joint Venture in pursuit of contract opportunities on major rail overhead line electrification works in Canada.

Overseas 150“Our rail overhead line electrification business continues to go from strength to strength, increasing turnover by 11 per cent in 2017. However, the immediate future of the UK rail electrification arena looks less certain, and whilst we will maintain our commitment and focus on the UK market, it is only sensible and prudent for us to consider markets overseas, which provide a greater degree of certainty in the medium term. Electrification is seen as a cornerstone in Canada’s drive to tackle climate change, and with our track record, we see Canada as a market with major opportunities for Keltbray,” explained Keltbray Group CEO, Brendan Kerr.

Station technology
Right place, right time
A project funded by the Rail Safety and Standards Board and the Rail Research UK Association, and undertaken by the University of Surrey, Loughborough University and Pervasive Intelligence could save rail users precious time by giving them precise information that would allow them to be in the right place at the right time to board their train.

The research team used a scanning device that detected Wi-Fi signals from passing trains and developed a web-service to identify the order in which the carriages would arrive, as well as the facilities available on-board.

The team also placed passengers in a simulated environment to test how they would behave on a platform if they were presented with information currently available, enhanced information developed by the study and information that could feasibly be provided in the future with the addition of minor infrastructure change, such as platform zones and markings. The results of the tests found that passengers stood in the best possible position on the platform when they received information that was mostly visual and continuously available, such as from a platform-based display. They also found that passengers wanted that information to be supported by short audio announcements and an app that showed relevant coach information and recommended boarding points.

Researchers are taking this information and using it to develop new customer information systems for enableID and other upcoming projects.

Dr David Williams, Lecturer in Secure Systems at the University of Surrey, said: “We have demonstrated that passengers change their behaviour based on enhanced information made possible by technology available today. This provides a compelling case for companies to integrate such technology to improve their existing services.

“We continue to work with the industry on a number of projects to improve passenger safety and experience.”