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Secrets in store

Halcrow Transmark is where you find the Halcrow Group's dedicated rail expertise. The division was created when Halcrow bought the British Rail Transmark company in 1993, and acquired around 80 experienced staff plus a lot of goodwill. Since then, the company has expanded to over 200 people with a turnover of £11M.

'Our skill is that we put operations first,' says Halcrow Transmark chairman Simon Coventry. 'Our people have the experience to know how many trains it is possible to put down a piece of track safely, and where the power, overhead lines and signals need to be to achieve that.'

His operation supplies staff to other Halcrow group projects - 15 of them are involved in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, supplying specialist power and signalling skills. But his main client is, not surprisingly, Railtrack.

The company has just completed the multi-disciplinary study of the West Anglia Route Modernisation for Anglian region. This has been looking at how best to replace imminent life-expired signalling on the Liverpool Street to Stansted route, and increase the frequency of the trains at the same time - without disrupting existing services.

'We and the client have learned a great deal during the study, and I think we have come up with a brilliant technical solution,' Coventry says. Though what it is, he won't reveal just yet.

Halcrow Transmark does around 30% of its business overseas. This used to be 50%, but the South East Asian crisis has started to hit home. The UK market, fortunately, has picked up the slack. Even with the economic downturn in the Far East, the company still has its successes. It is designing the trackwork for the West Rail project in Hong Kong, and is supporting ADtranz on its work for the STAR light rapid transit in Bangkok.

Elsewhere, HT is advising Egyptian National Railways on its cost recovery programme, has just completed a pre-feasibility study for a new line in the Yemen, and is working on two EU studies - Liberail and Prorata - to liberalise the European rail market.

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