Civil engineering is heavy work. Whether it is digging ditches, moving muck, removing rocks, shifting sand, carrying concrete, grading gravel or levelling the landscape it is all hard work, and needs some powerful machinery.
When that work has to be carried out on the railway, things get even more complicated. Access may only be possible down the railway itself, which can be quite a narrow route. Traditional plant and machinery has to sprout flanged wheels, new power sources and braking equipment, just to travel down the track. Then, having finally arrived, that machine has to access the whole site from its perch on the railway tracks, so longer booms may be needed.
Little wonder, then, that the railway plant and equipment market is quite specialised. It has to be seen to be understood, so for the last few years Network Rail has organised regional and national shows so that its engineers can examine the latest machinery and decide what it can do for them.
However, not this year. Various factors conspired to make a national show impossible for 2012, so RailStaff has stepped into the breach to bring you some of the latest, and some of the most interesting, items of plant and equipment specially designed for use on the railways.
New trailers from Aquarius
Land Rovers are versatile pieces of equipment, so are obvious candidates for the road-rail flanged-wheel conversion. Based in Ripon, North Yorkshire, Aquarius Railroad Technologies has built up a strong reputation for providing quality RRVs and niche products.
Although Land Rovers are traditionally seen as personnel carriers two new products: the Road Rail Trailer and the Load Tray Extension, challenge this perception.
With a payload of 2.7 tonnes the Road Rail Trailer, pulled by an Aquarius Land Rover, transports a variety of rubber-tracked machinery (such as chippers or excavators) from the depot direct to the track worksite. Logistics are reduced while time and money are saved with plant, equipment and personnel being delivered in one journey.
The Load Tray Extension can be either towed or propelled along the track by the Land Rover, providing additional payload (500kg per tray) to get equipment out of the vehicle, allowing more personnel to be carried to site safely and quickly.
These two new products join a host of problem solving solutions from Aquarius. The Land Rover RRV is very adaptable for a series of applications: Sand Rovers for autumn adhesion problems and Frost Rovers that attack ice on the third rail. The Weld and BV1000 Rovers are very successful as there is no need to transfer equipment at the access point, saving an average of 100 minutes per shift (Network Rail – Glasgow) and increasing welding productivity three-fold (Network Rail Wessex).
Peli Lights just got brighter!
With most railway work taking place at night, when lines can be closed without disrupting passenger traffic, good quality lighting is essential. LED lights, which take a lot less power than earlier incandescent lamps, are now commonly seen.
However, LED lighting is still a developing technology. Now, Peli Products have made their popular model 9460 and 9470 area lighting units 50% brighter with a longer battery burn time – up to 40 hours. These units now also feature an “intelligent control” panel which adjusts the light output according to the length of light duration required and provides a real-time display. Using the keypad, the operator can set the control panel to the number of hours and minutes of light required and the unit calculates and adjusts the output.
Intelligent control was initially developed following requests by rail maintenance companies for a longer light duration, allowing them to use the unit for more than one shift without recharging. David Smith, Product Manager, commented: “We have harnessed new technology to develop a smarter product within the overall design of the existing unit. This real time display allows the user to plan their time and shifts accordingly.”
As well as consuming less power, LED lights are lighter. Peli’s new 420 LED is available in standard and XL versions – the latter includes a case, shoulder strap and two battery packs so one can be charging while the other is in situ with the system operating.
Weighing only 3.81kg, the 9420 is compact, lightweight and the mast extends above 1.5 metres allowing a wide area of illumination. The unit folds down quickly to just 74cm, there are no trailing cables to create a trip hazard and the rechargeable light is silent running.
The world’s most powerful vacuum excavator
Railway plant comes in all shapes and sizes. One of the larger pieces of kit is a great way for maximising short possession times during the week. It is the world’s most powerful air/vacuum excavator, better known as the BVES RailVac RA7, made in Sweden by Railcare Group AB. Not surprisingly, this machine is attracting a lot of interest for its remarkable excavation capabilities.
The RailVac’s powerful suction pump simply “vacuums up” the ballast without disturbance to track or buried installations. Combining 20 years of working on the Scandinavian railway network with an incident-free track record over the past seven years of its UK operation in all circumstances, the RailVac is now fully certified and approved for the UK, and its impressive reliability is well proven.
Since the RailVac RA7 can be train hauled to and from site and only need a minute or two to start up and wind down, the RailVac maximises available possession time by focusing on the task in hand. Once in position, for S&C re-ballasting operations the RailVac is easily the fastest and most efficient solution yet available, and some forty other maintenance requirements have been identified as being well within the RailVac’s capabilities.
Its minimal impact on infrastructure means digging can be carried out without any risk of damaging buried installations such as power or signalling cables. Its minimal impact means that time and cost-consuming CAT scans or trial holes aren’t needed either, and the risk for possession over-runs leading to costly train delays is also removed. Furthermore, the RailVac can safely work underneath live overhead lines (OLE), and there is no need for disconnections.
Dead men and cameras
Using plant on the railways often calls for special measures, and companies such as Flannery are well used to making those changes. One such system is 360˚ Vision, a system that merges images from 4 cameras to create one image that appears as a bird’s eye view. Working with technology specialists Spillard Safety Systems and Vision Techniques, Flannery now has several of these systems fitted to plant in different working environments, trialling 360˚ cameras on excavators.
Adding secondary “Dead Man” devices is another challenge, and Flannery has looked at different methods of achieving this. One option is to link the dead man device into the seat belt – as the driver removes his belt it disables the machine. A similar result can be achieved using pressure pads under the seat.
The converse of these two devices is that when the driver is seated, or fastens his seatbelt, lights can be made to flash, warning nearby personnel that the machine is now “live”.
A remote control can be wired into the dead man device as well. This will enable a banksman to disable the machine, stopping it immediately as an important additional safety feature.
The OnGarde Rapid Deployment CCTV tower is just what it says – a CCTV tower that can be deployed rapidly. It can be installed in as little as one hour and comes fitted with many features as standard including floodlights and an anti tamper alarm system. The tower is available in either 110V or 240V versions with up 72 hours battery backup if power is cut.
As additional security, the tower itself is enclosed in a highly visible tamper-proof cabinet that should put off most opportunist criminals. Should the sight of the tower not be enough, then the intruder will be given a clear live audible warning that they have been detected.
The CCTV system on the tower uses an advanced detection method of Video Content Analysis (VCA) to identify intruders. This system becomes aware of any changes in the detection area and will automatically report these changes to the monitoring centre. This activity will then be evaluated by monitoring staff to avoid false alarms and, if the threat is genuine, take the appropriate action. The use of VCA allows the OnGarde tower to be installed to the specific needs of a site resulting in significant savings in both normal man guarding costs and call outs due to false alarms.
Hole in one
The high quality of Rotabroach hole cutting systems has, over the last 30 years, made the company into the world leader in the manufacture of magnetic drilling machines, rail drilling machines and annular cutters.
Rotabroach Rhino-series rail machines are available with either 2-stroke or 4-stroke petrol engines or with electric power. The machines are lightweight, highly portable, and user-friendly in operation giving robust and reliable service every time. Approved by Network Rail and SNCF, the machines are distributed around the world for use on all major railway networks.
Complementing the Rail Drilling Machines, Rotabroach offers a wide range of its highly efficient Annular Cutters in both M42 high speed steel and in carbide-tipped versions.
Plant hire experts Story Contracting are investing in new plant for the railway industry. The latest purchase is a fleet of eight Liebherr A900 machines which are fully-equipped with offset booms, giving the machines an excellent drainage capability. These machines have rail wheel braking already installed enabling them to work safely on gradients. All of the machines are identical, offering a tandem lifting capability alongside versatility and safety. The new machines are backed up by new trailers, deep trailer boxes and a full range of attachments, including Rosenqvist sleeper changers (SB60’s), ballast ploughs, twin tamping banks and ballast brushes.
These new A900s will be added to Story Contracting’s extensive plant hire fleet of machinery, suitable for undertaking the most complex of projects anywhere in the country. The rail fleet also includes Colmar T10000 heavy lifting machines, zero-tailswing rail bugs, low-rail and hydrastatic drive machines with the ability to work on gradients.
All Story Contracting operators are trained in house and have gone through a full familiarisation, assessment and mentoring programme before they are considered for working un-mentored on the infrastructure. All maintenance and haulage is kept in house which means Story has complete control over delivering stringently maintained plant to the right place at the right time. This continual investment in both the fleet and operators ensures that Story Contracting’s machines are some of the most reliable, versatile, efficient and environmentally friendly on the infrastructure.
As a principal contractor in its own right, Story Contracting is a plant hire company with a contractor’s work ethos, making sure that the job always gets done.
Mini cranes, maximum lift
One company specialising in solving access problems is GGR Rail. From off-track projects and permanent way maintenance, to overhead line and signal upgrades, GGR Rail’s UNIC mini cranes deliver the ultimate combination of compact size and heavy lifting power.
With 9 models in the range (from 0.995 tonnes to 10 tonnes lifting capacity), these spider cranes have major advantages in many rail industry applications over the traditionally used RRVs.
Winner of the Infrarail 2012 award for Plant and Equipment, GGR Rail’s spider cranes are the only cranes under 10 tonnes with Network Rail Product Approval. With multi-fuel options and remote operation, these lifting machines have the flexibility to be used for a variety of applications as they are small enough to be fitted on a track trolley and work under overhead lines.
Their small size doesn’t mean that these machines lack features. The UNIC mini cranes include extra safety features such as working area limitation so safe parameters can be set when operating in higher risk areas. They also include a stability warning system and safe load indicator to prevent the crane from operating outside of its safe working envelope. Their tracked mobility also enables them to travel over uneven surfaces and slopes, proving invaluable for inaccessible off-track maintenance projects.
GGR’s mini cranes are particularly useful for working on station improvement programmes as they can easily move around the existing building structure. As they can also be operated on rail tracks rather than just from the road side, work can be completed during the day without the need for road closures.
More tamp, less vibe
Using machinery by hand can often be a problem if high levels of vibration are involved. However, Wacker Neuson’s new BH24 low vibration two-stroke tamper received Network Rail approval in April this year and has a low hand-arm vibration level of 4.9m/s². In addition, the complete hood is damped from vibration to improve operator comfort and safety.
The BH24 offers a number of other advantages. The low emission engine, complete with a catalytic converter, results in a reduction of carbon monoxide by 50% and hydrocarbons by 70% (well below current EU limits). An air purging system on the carburettor gives reliable, trouble free starting while low fuel consumption of 0.9l/hr along with a 1.8 litre fuel tank provides 2 hours run time.
When it does need refuelling, the design of the fuel tank allows the machine to be refuelled when laid down, which is safer as the machine is less likely to fall over.
Tasty Plant Sales is a small company based near London and with a range of hydraulic attachments dedicated to Rail Infrastructure maintenance. It prides itself on speedy response times and full customer technical support as and when needed.
Having served the industry now for over 10 years, the range of Richter & Muller and BSB attachments are renowned for their quality and inherent reliability. The Ballast Brush, in particular, is cited as being the best in the market with unsurpassed power and unmatched quality of work achieved. The brilliant S1 Ballast Regulator and TC1 TubeCube, with various design patents, are also worthy of mention.
As an approved Network Rail supplier, Tasty Plant Sales continues to strive for excellence and is strategically well placed to carry on serving this specialist market.
Torrent 24/7 service
In an industry where any down time can create major delays, high quality plant and a dedicated rapid response service are of paramount importance. That’s why Torrent Trackside has introduced a dedicated 0845 number which is continually manned and ensures a quick response on a local basis.
Torrent Trackside specialises in the hire of portable track repair and renewals equipment, trackside lighting and related support services to railway infrastructure maintenance companies. It supplies an extensive range of portable equipment to Network Rail and all the major rail renewals and projects contractors, together with London Underground’s contractors.
Trackside lighting is also a core activity available from all depots, either to hire or on a contract basis. Lighting suitable for a wide range of site conditions is available, from traditional ‘Linklites’ through to high-powered Tower Lights and specialist tunnel lighting. Many of Torrent’s contracts are semi-permanent installations.
With so much specialist equipment, Torrent undertakes the maintenance of its own assets to the highest standards. Because of this expertise, some customers asked if Torrent could service and repair their equipment too, so the company now provides asset management, maintenance, repair and product certification services to some of its major customers.
Being a dedicated rail industry supplier, Torrent takes safety very seriously. It conforms to all the recognised industry standards and is now over 4 years RIDDOR free. However, there is no room for complacency, and continuous improvement in safety and compliance has become part of the culture of the business.
Large track tamping machines are a common sight on the rail network. However, their very size prevents them from being used where clearances are limited. So, traditionally, tamping on private sites, on tight-radius curves and turnouts, has been carried out by hand.
However, VolkerRail has recently brought its second Unimar tamper over from the Netherlands. These Unimar tampers are the only two in the UK, and they are perfect for use in locations that even a small Beaver tamper is unable to reach where they can cut manual labour times by half.
The first Unimar, which has been in the UK for over a decade, has been working continuously at Tata Steel’s Scunthorpe, although VolkerRail did manage to use it on the recent DLR 6 Stratford International Extension project.
Barry Kennedy Plant Director commented on the new acquisition. “This machine is another addition to our tamping fleet and allows us to offer tamping services to clients where access may be restricted. It provides us with a full range of tamping machines from main line S&C to private sidings and goods yards.”
The Unimar, which is operated solely by one of VolkerRail’s in-house trained operators, can be used alongside any team for all small renewals projects and is transportable by road to any site due to its self-loading capabilities.
Holdfast Gets You On
Getting RRVs – road rail vehicles – on and off track takes a bit of space, a reasonably smooth run-up, and necessitates some way of protecting the track itself from damage.
For that reason, level crossing specialist, HoldFast, has developed special road-rail access points (RRAPs) using its familiar recycled-rubber panels.
A 160-metre continuous HoldFast RRAP was recently installed at Ruislip Underground Station Loading Bay by Level Crossing Installations Limited, together with a concrete footpath adjacent. Work was carried out in eight-hour possessions and completed in eight days in February this year.
HoldFast RRAPs have now been permanently installed at many depots across the UK. In many locations, they have been customised to fit complex switches. They also continue to be used away from depots as temporary track access points on most modernisation schemes and as permanent installations for routine works access and emergency access. In such locations, the panels can be quickly removed and returned for tamping.