How high is the output?
A factory on rails, the first of its kind to be used on Britain’s railways, will slash years off the time it will take to electrify the Great Western main line, claimed Network Rail (25 July 2013).
[Groundbreaking factory train slashes years off electrification programme, Network Rail]
With 235 route miles to electrify from Maidenhead in the East to Swansea in the West and many thousands of trains to keep running while the work is done, we’re working with German manufacturer Windhoff to build the High Output Plant system (HOPS) train to do the job.
The 23-vehicle train, in effect several trains in one, will work its way west, building the railway electrical infrastructure as it goes.[…]
The High Output Plant system
The HOPS will leave the purpose-built depot in Swindon and split up, to head to different parts of the line at its 60mph top speed. It carries enough supplies and equipment to avoid the need to bring anything to the trackside on lorries. Staff can be picked up at stations en-route.
Operating six nights a week, the £40m HOPS will do its work after dark, with adjacent lines open for business at speed aiming to sink up to 30 piles per shift. This equates to the usual length of one stretch of conductor wire – between 1,200 and 1,500m. And there are 17,000 piles to be sunk before Swansea.
Electrifying the Great Western using the HOPS will be a much more efficient process than methods used in this country in the past, with work able to be carried out while trains are still running. The factory train will allow us to work overnight, when the railway is less busy. Without it, we’d have to work at weekends, with disruptive line closures.
We hope to have electric trains running to Swansea by 2018.
The different elements to the HOPS train are:
A piling rig (with two multi purpose vehicles with Movax vibro piling heads, to vibrate the steel piles into the soil, two pile carrying wagons, and a Fambo hydraulic percussion hammer multi purpose vehicles for tougher ground)
An excavation and concrete batching unit with an Hitachi excavator plus a Kniele concrete unit to mix concrete from onboard aggregate, cement and water tanks
A structures unit which erects the masts, portal booms and twin track cantilevers
An ancillary conductor to install the earthing wires, return wires and small parts such as registration arms and other equipment
The contact and catenary unit to string up the remaining wires under tension. Another unit installs other things such as contenary wires under low bridges, and records information such as height and stagger
Each of the above elements includes two multi purpose vehicles with full driving cabs, powered by MTU power packs, which can be driven at 60mph off-site. On site driving cabs means the train can be driven very slowly when installing contact wire.
How “high” is the output of the High Output Plant train?
There appears to be no information — but the Midland Main Line is apparently scheduled to be wired by road-railers and cherry pickers (and not with a factory train). It seems likely that BR’s flat-roofed electrification train (video below) would be much more ‘high output’ than anything run by Network Rail.