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SR power upgrade agreements signed

Well we know who's going to do the work and what it will cost for the first year

Network Rail eventually signed the last of the four framework agreements for the upgrade of the Southern Region traction power supply on 28 March. Each agreement covers a geographic area – Kent (Connex), Wessex (SWT), Sussex (South Central and Inner London. Under the framework contracts each contractor has an area in which it will work with Network Rail on the design, construction and installation of the power upgrade


Contract area Contractor
Inner London

SEEBOARD Contracting Services Ltd/Balfour Beatty Rail Projects Ltd (joint venture)

Kent ABB Ltd/Mowlem Railways - (consortium)
Sussex Integrated Utility Services Ltd/ Peterhouse plc - (joint venture)
Wessex Siemens Transportation Systems/Amec Spie Rail Systems - (joint venture)


According to Network Rail, each area will be worth £40-50million in 2003-04. This represents around a quarter of the company's committed enhancements in the table above.

But Network Rail emphasised that the framework agreements are just that – frameworks. They have no contract value nor do they detail the work to be done. But they do provide the basis for each contractor and the Network Rail electrification team responsible for the Area to start work on designing, planning and implementing the detailed delivery of the project.

Hardware procurement is said to be ‘well advanced' and ‘Substantial' work on-site is expected to start by ‘late spring'.

Meanwhile Network Rail's in-house power supply team is getting a grip on the project. A big step forward has been the development of an in-house computer simulation capability. Previously the simulation runs were being sub-contracted to consultants.


Slow doors

On the ground, detailed measurements are being made of real life sub-station outputs and demands. These readings will be used to determine accurately the number of new trains which can be run on the existing electrical network without the protective relays dropping out.

Work so far suggests that South Central will be able to run 150 vehicles, Connex 220 – since the power supply was selectively strengthened for Channel Tunnel and Networker - and SWT around 200. One of the problems in the Wessex Area is the extremely slow door cycling time of the Siemens Desiro electric multiple units.

According to informed sources it is proving difficult to get station dwell times below one minute, where a Bombardier Electrostar can now achieve 30-35 seconds. Protracted station stops clearly affect section running times and, consequently, Desiros will have to run flat out to keep to time.

Going flat out means drawing more amps which in turn means fewer vehicles can run on the existing power supplies and the upgrade will need to include some extra beefing up.

With First Group offering a diesel Desiro for its Trans Pennine Express franchise bid, Bombardier's emphasis on reducing dwell times rather than raw power to cut schedules is apposite.



And finally

Some of my Old Railway chums have a feel for diagramming. They look at a route and a service frequency and even before doing some calculations on the back of an envelope know roughly how many trains will be needed.

One such chum was very interested in the fleet sizes in last month's article on Channel Tunnel Rail Link Domestic Services (CTRL-DS). Something wasn't quite right.

So he got hold of the diagrams and guess what? When he analysed the Gravesend-St Pancras service he discovered that on the first two he looked at trains spent 48% of their working lives sitting in terminals while being turned round.

At both St Pancras and Gravesend turn round times were between 23-27minutes. Even in the peak the range was 13-17minutes.

Of course, this would not only curtail the earning power of extremely expensive trains and increase the fleet size, but it would tie up restricted platform space at St Pancras.

He reckons that CTRL-DS diagramming has been subordinated to existing services in Kent . Which seems loopy since the whole point is that users of existing trains would switch to the new services.

As another chum is won't to remark ‘we've forgotten what good is'.


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