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Colas achieves near-emission free site on rail upgrade

Site of future colas

Network Rail and Colas have achieved a near-emission free site on a majo rail renewal project in South Wales.

Using solar lighting and power generation, the track renewal project in Llanwern was completed with a 97% diesel-free operation and is being dubbed as the “Site of the Future”.

The joint Network Rail and Colas initiative used solar and battery technologies from Prolectric instead of diesel generators, saving 6,000l of fuel, and more than 15t of CO2 during a 14-day project.

The scheme is now expected to be rolled out across future projects, as Network Rail aims to hit its Control Period 6 target to reduce energy consumption by almost 20% and carbon emissions by 25%.

Colas production manager Ryan Ballinger said: “A 97% diesel reduction at the first attempt is great achievement. Saving close to 6,000 litres of diesel is the same as driving a family car at 40 mpg twice around the circumference of the world.

“It’s also clear where we have learnt the lessons from Llanwern so we can aim to close that small gap. We really want to get to that 100% fuel-free figure by the time of our next challenge, planned for a rail renewal project later in the summer.

“There’s no doubt these technologies are going to be a complete gamechanger and we need to push on to get to a place where using this type of technology is just business as usual.”

The site used solar lighting and power generation technologies supplied by Prolectric. They were deployed across the site covering more than 21 acres, including on access roads, the welfare cabin area, car parking and the track working area itself, where the London to Cardiff main line meets the Llanwern steelworks spur, near Newport.

Two 25kW Solatainer solar generators replaced conventional diesel generators providing light and heat for seven welfare cabins, including site offices, a canteen, toilets and a drying room. The Solatainer is based on a standard 20ft shipping container with an array of photovoltaic solar panels charging on-board lithium ion batteries.

A total of 21 ProLight solar tower lights illuminated the site compound, car parking and work preparation areas, as well as being deployed on the trackside, where 200-metres of ProTrack battery-powered link lighting was also used. ProTemp column street lights were positioned along the access road to the site.

The site’s camera security system was also solar-powered, while portable lithium battery packs, recharged as necessary from the solar generators, powered dust suppression systems, water cooler stations and point motors.

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