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UK first for switches and crossings handback

Rail

A rail partnership has delivered the UK’s first switches and crossings handback – the formal process of handing over a railway line to reopen after engineering works – on a 125mph line.

The S&C North Alliance partnership between rail infrastructure consultant AmeySersa and Network Rail delivered the scheme on an East Coast Main Line switch and crossing project last weekend (16 to 19 September) without the need for speed restrictions following the completion of works.

Speed restrictions are usually put in place after engineering works as the ballast requires time to settle. However, the team used advanced techniques to improve the accuracy and speed of the work. These included using 3D dozing to ensure the excavation met the exact design co-ordinates and using a Bomag Variomatic roller to compact the ballast quickly.

Although the techniques have been used in previous rail works, they are not common in switches and crossings projects.

“Switches and crossing schemes are already complex, and delivering a line speed handback brings the additional challenge of ensuring absolute precision at every stage of the project; we maximised the use of existing technology and techniques to achieve this,” said S&C North Alliance’s alliance director Neil Johnson.

“This approach is used routinely on track renewals but this is the first time it has been successfully completed on a switch and crossing project in the UK and is a testament to the hard work and expertise of our team.”

The ability to handback switch and crossing projects at line speed will help prevent delays associated with speed restrictions, particularly on high speed routes like the East Coast Main Line.

Increased accuracy during installation improves reliability, makes the track easier to maintain and reduces the whole life cost of the asset.

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