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High Output Track Renewals- a typical night


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Hi all!

 

I hope this may be of interest to some of you, both from a modelling and a knowledge point of view. I am lucky enough to be an Ops Manager for Network Rail NSC and as such spend a lot of time working in possessions, including with the High Output Renewal and Ballast Cleaning trains. There have been a number of fantastic models shown on here recently and I thought i'd do this to show how the High Output Track Renewal System (TRS) actually works. This is based on my work on Monday night of this week (5th-6th May) and is on TRS2 working at Chiltern Green, near Bedford on the MML.

 

Possession was booked from 2200hrs until 0600hrs with a complete renewal of 385yds of track and ballast, handing back at 80mph.

 

The train, running as 6X01 from Toton and top and tailed by 66595 and 66596 arrived at the TPAT (take possession around train) signal at 2207hrs. Immediately the PICOP and ES made the necessary arrangements and possession was granted at 2226hrs, with the worksite being granted at 2240hrs.

 

The night starts here- the track lads get into position and around ten to 11 started to dig an entry hole. This is manually removing the ballast from an area approx 6 sleepers long to the depth of the bottom of the sleeper- the reason for this will become obvious later! At the same time another crew of 6 start manually removing the pandrol clips which hold the rail to the sleeper. This is so that the train can seperate the rail from the sleepers when it starts working. To start with 234yds (1 'string'- one length of rail!) is all that is unclipped. If any problems are experienced it is easier to clip up this length rather than the full amount!

 

While this is happening the train is drawn slowly to the site of work and the dozen or so operators start firing up the generators and warming the system through. Once the lead loco stops at the entry hole it is isolated and provides no more traction until the train is completely packed away- the seperate elements of the TRS are self propelled. The train is now split into 3. The first part is the TRS- the meat of the train which tonight includes 12 sleepers wagons, storage and the system itself. Behind that is the D75- a baby ballast cleaner which is used to ensure the track is left at the right height under overheads, and at the rear are 5 autoballasters which will be propelled by the rear loco.

 

At this time a twin bank tamper/ DTS and a regulator have entered the worksite and are moving up behind the rear loco.

 

Once the hole is complete and the track unclipped the TRS now moves slowly forward, loco followed by sleeper wagons followed the the meat of the system!

 

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Sleeper wagons

 

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The P2RL gantry. To move the sleepers from the wagons to the conveyor three gantrys run on rails on top of the sleeper wagons! Two are used to ferry old and nee sleepers back and forth while the P2RL pictured above spins the sleepers to the right orientation and sits them on a conveyor belt. The operators sit sideways on board these gantrys and need nerves of steel as they are very quick and stop very closely to each other!

 

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The start of the conveyor. The wagon just in front of this has a large magnet suspended underneath which collects all the removed pandrol clips and deposits them in a bin!

 

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Once the train is in position the rail is cut underneath where the new rail will start to be laid from. The new rail had been dropped some weeks previously and sits at the sleeper ends, waiting to be pulled into position by clamps on the train. In this shot freshly trimmed new rail is being lifted into a clamp on the side of the train. The length at the front of the photo is excess which had just been cut off.

 

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The conveyors- the top one brings the new sleepers into position for dropping, the lower one takes the old sleepers away.

 

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The rail has now started to be lifted into the clamps and a track has started to be lowered which will support the train when the rail has been pulled. At this point the new rail is on the outside, the old rail is still on the inside

 

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Not the best of shots but on here the large toothed wheel pulls each sleeper back individually and lifts it onto 2 hydraulic lifting arms. They then hoist them up and drop them onto a conveyor belt.

 

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The heart of the system! The suspended control pod which controls most aspects of the system while its in use. There are also 140 stops sensors all over the train which can be used by any operator at any point to enable them to complete their tasks. In front of the pod can be seen a floating axle that supports the train when not working and is lifted up and out the way when its inside the possession!

 

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The new sleeper layer.This is basically a big plough that, when it is lowered, smooths the ballast to the right level and deposits a new sleeper correctly spaced in the right position.

 

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The second control pod- this controls manipulator arms and clamps to ensure the new rail is positioned correctly

 

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The first new sleeper being dropped. It always lands with a bit of a plop and needs straightening up. From there onwards the train does it all itself. By this point it was 0100hrs

 

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Another view of the old sleeper lifter. You can see the toothed wheel about to lift the old sleeper onto one of the hydraulic arms

 

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New sleepers up top, old ones down below!

 

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There are people in, around and on the train all the time it is working. Here we see new sleepers being laid before the rail is pulled in. The pads and clips have been removed as the sleepers will be spaced when the baby ballast cleaner (D75) starts at this point

 

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New rail has been bent under the old rail and pulled into position. It will be temporarily clamped at this point to hold it in place but will be fully drilled and plated before the D75 gets here.

 

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Next piece of kit is a fastclipper which is suspended from the train and clips up the sleepers as it goes along! From this point on is perfectly good, new track!

 

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The old rail is passed along clamps and rollers, first outside and the underneath the train to be deposited where required. Monday night it was in the cess, Tuesday night was the adjacent 4'!

 

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Pooing out the old rail... At this point it is classed as 'full production', meaning old rail at the front of the train is now new rail at the rear. At this point it can relay 216m/234ft every 40mins. Its now 0130hrs.

 

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Once the TRS has passed clear the lads get on with drilling and fitting 6-hole plates while another team follow the train 'snagging'- ensure all clips and pads and in place and adjusting where necessary

 

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At 0200hrs after the rail has been plated the D75 moves forward. This is only used under overhead lines as the TRS leaves the track slightly higher so the D75 lowers is to the correct height under the wires.

 

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Some of the detail on the lifting clamps on the D75.

 

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Some more detail of the D75 while still 'stowed'. First shot showing the chutes, second shot the bin where ballast is redistributed and the third shows the stowed undercutting gear

 

 

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The beautiful front end of the D75. The operator sits in a cab facing to the rear watching the cutter gear and uses forward facing cameras to see where he is going. There is also always a controller who walks in front checking for possible obstructions and getting people out of the way!

 

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Sleepers have been spaced to make room for the cutter bar to be extended and the rail is in the clamps and has been lifted. The 2 photos show before extension and after!

 

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The cutterbar being built up. The D75 has a continuous chain of teeth that sit just below sleeper level and sweep the ballast out, up the chutes and through a sift. The clamps hold the track at the right level and good ballast is redropped to hold it at the required height. Particularly old and crappy ballast is sent into two MFS ballast hoppers at the rear for disposal.

 

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Once the TRS reaches the end of the relay the rail is again cut. The TRS was in full production for a total of 33mins!

 

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D75 in action!- Ballast dropping from the bins...

 

Once the D75 has passed through the autohoppers are propelled through filling in any holes where necessary. Normally theres a trickle laid throughout and a fair bit to fill in the entry and exit holes. Once the TRS has fully finished it pulls clear of the work area, followed by the D75 then the autohoppers which recouple a couple of hundred yards down the track and prepare to leave the worksite.

 

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Next up is the tamper. All of the High Output tampers have their tamping bank (set of tines or arms) attached to a travelling bogie which means that the tamper doesn't actually stop while its tamping! The unit moves along at walking pace and the twin set of tines moves backwards and forwards meaning it can work at twice the speed of a normal tamper! The are also fitted with a DTS (Dynamic Track Stabiliser) which simulates the passage of up to 10,000 trains and vibrates everything around it. This means the track can be handed back at up to 80mph with one pass.

 

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The DTS bogie under the tamper- 73114 'Ron Henderson'

 

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And finally! A regulator then passes through the site. This pushes excess ballast into neat shoulders and fills in any gaps that may have appeared while tamping. It also has a ballast brush that cleans off all the ballast from the sleepers and clips and deposits the extra off to one side.

 

After all that work the train headed back to Toton, the tamper and regulator back to Leagrave and the possession was handed back 2 mins early at 0558hrs.

 

And the morning commuters into St Pancras knew nothing...

 

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That's really interesting. I've worked with PL and S&C Tampers before on maintenance, but never got to do any renewals.

 

One question though: With you saying that 6-hole fishplates were fitted, I am assuming that it's not CWR? If it is CWR, when do the welders come along?

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Thanks very much for publishing this; fascinating what goes on under the cover of darkness. Having seen how much time is taken up with taking out the possession, how much more work could you do if you were given an extra hour? Are there occasions, perhaps on weekends on multiple-tracked lines, when you might have much longer possessions?

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That's really interesting. I've worked with PL and S&C Tampers before on maintenance, but never got to do any renewals.

 

One question though: With you saying that 6-hole fishplates were fitted, I am assuming that it's not CWR? If it is CWR, when do the welders come along?

The 6 hole plate is a temporary one until the track is welded and stressed. The back (outside) pair are drilled and bolted and clamps put in place on the other 4 inner holes. It would get welded and stressed on a follow up shift.

 

hth

Jeff

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Ideally the welding is done the following night- Jeff is right in that Robel clamps are used.

 

On a weekend the train will often be used from Sat night until Monday morning but because maintenance time is limited the train is normally only run until mid morning Sunday, the rest of the shift being welding and stressing. This weekend it is only planned to do 4 string (around 1000yds) but last weekend it was planned in the same time to do 7 string (1,600yds). It can depend on the state of the track being lifted (wooden sleepers are a nightmare!) and also how much movement of the new rail is required to get it into position.

 

TRS2 got the record for an 8 hour possession in Wessex a couple of months ago when it did 4.7 string (1,100yds) overnight. Thats without overheads and no other traffic running. In one weekend possession last year TRS4 did 17 string in one weekend!

 

Bear in mind this week we are working on the slow lines with fast lines being open past us at 105mph! 

 

Anyway- 6X01 has just arrived at Bedford so its time for me to head to site access for tonight's work! TTFN!

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • RMweb Gold

i have come in contact with some fantastic bits of kit since i started with colas, still getting to grips with names of various kit but it amazes me the speed the things work at and how much heavy labour has been taken away from the guys on the ground with the machines

 

a lot of the things i see i just move about such as the D75, autoballasters, point carriers etc but on the bicester job i have been involved in the working of the balfour beattie sleeper dropping train (NTS machine?) which walks its self along automatically plopping (thats a technical term) sleepers onto the ballast

 

last night i worked the rail drop train which delivers CWR to site and deposits it where required, lots of too-ing and fro-ing dropping 24 long lengths of track (700m a length or so?), there was some worry as to whether we would get the job done due to my hours but we stuck with it and delivered what was required of us within my day, i'm a great believer of getting the job done (where we can do safely)

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It's nice to see what some of my FLHH colleagues are up to in the wee hours while I'm tucked up in bed - they've been lumbered with working 6X01 as they all sign Toton and I don't, so I'm on days for a change!

 

Nice photos too!

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Very interesting & thanks for posting.

 

I live 100m from the WCML just north of Wigan, near to Boars Head. Last week Network Rail thoughtfully sent me, and my neighbours a letter re "Track Improvement works, Rylands area, Wigan" letting us local residents know works will be undertaken Sunday 1 June from 00:01 to 08:00. The work involves renewal of track components and will require the use of track machines, lights, generators and powered plant, and some disturbance may be caused, etc.

 

Thanks to your interesting thread I am looking forward (!!!) to this event, a handy footbridge will make a good place to see the action, and I'm hoping for a hot, balmy June summers night.

 

Excellent PR by Network Rail letting us residents know what is going on.

 

Brit15

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i have come in contact with some fantastic bits of kit since i started with colas, still getting to grips with names of various kit but it amazes me the speed the things work at and how much heavy labour has been taken away from the guys on the ground with the machines

a lot of the things i see i just move about such as the D75, autoballasters, point carriers etc but on the bicester job i have been involved in the working of the balfour beattie sleeper dropping train (NTS machine?) which walks its self along automatically plopping (thats a technical term) sleepers onto the ballast

last night i worked the rail drop train which delivers CWR to site and deposits it where required, lots of too-ing and fro-ing dropping 24 long lengths of track (700m a length or so?), there was some worry as to whether we would get the job done due to my hours but we stuck with it and delivered what was required of us within my day, i'm a great believer of getting the job done (where we can do safely)

Hi Jim,

 

The Balfour train is the NTC-new track construction train. I've worked with it a few times myself, quite an impressive bit of kit!

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It's doing 7 strings near Wellingborough this weekend so should be relaying up to around 6 or 7 on Sunday morning so I may see it in daylight!

 

We've been the guinea pigs this week- trialling a process known at FTAP (Flexible Train Access Point) which involves the possession and worksite being set up around the train sat at a target sign rather than a signal. Seems to have gone rather well!

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  • RMweb Gold

I think they should do all that work during the day.

they tried that and people moaned about it........

 

from the rugby rail users website.......

 

"There is good news for Rugby - London commuters regarding the proposed blcokades of the line in the Watford area to carry out major track and signalling improvements. Network Rail had intended to do much of the work during a fortnight-long blockade this Summer, and another week-long blockade in early 2015. Both these blockades have now been cancelled and the work will now be carried out over an increased number of weekends."

Edited by big jim
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Big Thank you Ian for an absolute fascinating read regarding a hands on relaying job, and time taken to record/post the event for us to learn & understand the job process involved better.

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they tried that and people moaned about it........

Reminds me of the brainless oicks who want the potholes in the roads repaired and whine when the road gang turn up to do the job and partially block the road. Some of them need a cactus shoved up their arse to give the something to moan about.

 

That apart, thank you very much Ian for a fascinating insight into what actually goes on in a renewal process. The sheer technical expertise involved is to me (and I suspect many others on here) breathtaking, and our thanks are due for the insight.

 

Dennis

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  • 1 year later...

Nice write up Ian!. Ive just started 3 months ago as a Tamper Fitter/Operator/driver with the High Output Track Renewals. I went out and saw the BCS two weeks ago and that was an amazing bit of kit to watch. Ive never seen the TRS in person and tonight will be my first night to see it all working in the flesh! Looking forward to it.

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