High output team grows with new £50m ballast cleaner and 500 new Network Rail staff: High Output Ballast Cleaner

Thursday 26 Feb 2015

High output team grows with new £50m ballast cleaner and 500 new Network Rail staff

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Network Rail is expanding its world-leading track renewal programme by purchasing a new £50m ballast cleaner and welcoming more than 500 employees, previously contractors, into the company. The move represents part of Network Rail’s commitment to minimise passenger disruption, reduce the cost of running the railway by 20 per cent over the next five years, and improve sustainability.

Network Rail maintains over 20,000 miles of track, used by over 4.5 million passengers every single day. The bed of stones the rails and sleepers rest on, known as ballast, support this network, holding the other components securely in place and allowing effective drainage, enabling a safe, smooth and comfortable ride, reducing the need for speed restrictions and travel disruption. Britain’s railway sees an incredible 1.6 billion journeys each year. This traffic and wear and tear takes its toll and it is the high output track renewals team’s responsibility to regularly clean the ballast of debris, oil and emissions as well as regularly renewing it so it remains functional and safe.

Codenamed ‘BCS5,’ the new ballast cleaner will boast the latest technological advancements in track renewals, benefitting from reduced fuel consumption and emissions, and incorporating measures to reduce workforce exposure to ballast dust, including mist-based suppression systems. In a UK first, the new cleaner will be built for ‘third-rail’ operation, allowing the conductor rail to safely remain in place throughout the cleaning process. Purchased from Plasser & Theurer, the purpose-built kit and associated support plant will become the fifth ballast cleaning system in the fleet and is due to be delivered in 2016.

Additionally, in March (2015) the Network Rail high output track renewals team will complete the insourcing of more than 500 AmeyCOLAS contractor staff, bringing them in-house and marking the largest people transfer into Network Rail since the phased insource of maintenance activities in 2005.

High output project director Ben Brooks said: “The move will give us greater opportunity to drive continuous improvement in both safety and performance on site. It is fundamental to delivering our cost efficiencies and also allows longer term investment in training and development for the high output workforce, our fleet and maintenance facilities.”

“With the purchase of the new ballast cleaner and the insourcing of 500 staff who previously contracted for us, Network Rail is taking more direct control of its high output ballast cleaning and track relaying operations; activities core to its day-to-day business.

“Network Rail is leading the world, completing mechanised track renewals overnight in short duration access and handing back the railway at higher speeds than attainable with conventional methods. The new equipment allows us to add the third rail DC electrified network to our programme so passengers south of London can start to see the benefits of high output track renewals too.”

Notes to editors

Ballast cleaning system five (BCS5) consists of;

  • RM900 high output ballast cleaner
  • New ballast power wagon
  • Spoil power wagon
  • Consolidation machine (in-train tamping with double bank dynamic action).
  • 44 MFS conveyor spoil / new ballast wagons

Plus support plant comprising of;

  • Two 09-3X dynamic tamper – track stabiliser machines
  • One ‘third rail’ compatible 09-2X dynamic tamper – track stabiliser machine
  • One USP5000 ballast regulator machine
  • One first of type third rail ballast regulator machine

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