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Railhub Archive
1997-06-13 RTK-001
Railtrack plc


Technological first for Britain's railways

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Railtrack plc

Technological first for Britain's railways

13 June 1997
source Railtrack plc
type Press release

Around £21 million is to be invested on revolutionary new technology to maintain Britain's railways, leading to smoother train rides and fewer speed restrictions, Railtrack announced today.

The first computer-controlled Stoneblower track maintenance machine - the only one of its kind in the world - has been on trial in Britain and will now be joined by another seven machines to be built and delivered over the next two years. The investment forms part of Railtrack's commitment to spend £16 billion on the rail network over the next ten years.

Trials have shown that track work done by Stoneblower lasts up to four times as long as traditional methods. This reduces the amount of time lines are closed for engineering work - cutting down on the disruption to passenger services, especially at weekends. It has also demonstrated an ability to prevent and eliminate speed restrictions due to the condition of track.

The Stoneblower works by measuring the alignment of the stone ballast the track sits on to an accuracy of 0.5mm and injecting small stones to fill any spaces to provide a smooth firm surface. Traditional tamping methods of correcting the alignment of the track tend to destroy ballast. Stoneblower leaves the ballast largely unharmed and therefore maintenance is more robust and long-lasting.

Railtrack's Director, Civil Engineering Nigel Ogilvie said: "Railtrack is working to ensure that Britain's railways lead the world in innovation. We are committed to investing wisely to deliver a railway fit for the 21st century and that means working efficiently with our contractors to provide the best possible service to all our customers."

The machine was developed and manufactured in the USA by Pandrol Jackson Inc. and has been described as one of the most complex rail machines ever built. It is fitted with an onboard computer network which controls the revolutionary technique of track profiling and pneumatic injection.

Currently operated by AMEC Rail, the machines will be operated across the country, giving rail contractors access to future-proof technology. AMEC Rail's Development Director David Hill-Smith said: "As a forward-looking company, AMEC is delighted to be associated with such an advance in railway technology. We are keen to meet the challenge to deliver excellent service."

Railhub Archive ::: 1997-06-13 RTK-001


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