Tuesday 11 May 2004
‘CUTTING EDGE’ TECHNOLOGY TO SECURE RAILWAY SAFETY
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Men have been seen dangling from ropes high above railway tracks in the Dove Holes area, fitting what look like giant steel hairnets to the edges of the railway cutting between Chinley and Peak Forest. But it’s nothing to do with the current series of TV’s hair salon drama ‘Cutting It’; it’s just the latest device to be used by Network Rail in the battle against the elements.
Just as the railway line dives into the one and three-quarter mile long Dove Holes Tunnel, it passes through a sheer-sided rock cutting. Weather in the Peak District can be very harsh and it is not unusual for water, frost or snow to get into the rock face, and for pieces of rock or even boulders to break away and end up on the railway line. The end result could be disastrous if a train was to hit the rocks and become derailed.
To prevent this happening, the North West Structures Alliance (a partnership between Network Rail and Edmund Nuttall Ltd) used specialist contractors to solve the problem.
Firstly they covered the tracks below with sheeting to catch falling rocks. Then abseilers went over the edge of the cutting to prise away any loose rocks and bigger pieces that were considered to be a potential problem. Having done that they then used self-drilling rock bolts, which were secured along the top of the cutting, from which the steel mesh ‘netting’ was suspended.
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The netting is fixed at track level so that any rocks that do break away from the cutting are trapped there safely before they can reach the railway line. From time to time engineers can come along and release the bottom of the net to remove any fallen rocks.
Some 170 metres of the rock cutting outside the tunnel entrance have been netted at a cost of approximately £350,000. This section was chosen because train drivers emerging from the darkness of the tunnel would have little chance of seeing the rocks in time to stop their trains.
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