Skanska has successfully completed the commissioning of new switching equipment along a 40-kilometre stretch of the East Coast Main Line that enhances the power supply to the track and increases train capacity.
The equipment, called SITRAS 8DA Switchgear, is being used in the UK for the first time and is scheduled to be rolled out along the rest of the East Coast Main Line.
While people tucked into their dinners on Christmas Day, engineers from Skanska and Railtrack were using a special train to test the new power supply between Biggleswade and Welwyn Garden City.
The train, called the Skanska Christmas Special and comprising an unusual combination of five locomotives – four Class 90 electric locomotives with one Class 57 locomotive in the middle - did seven runs along the track between Sandy and Welwyn and along the Hertford and Cambridge Branch lines, at speeds of up to 50 mph.
Sophisticated equipment on the train and at Skanska project offices checked that the increased steady current drawn by the test train did not cause interference with the new switching stations controlling it or with the associated overhead line equipment and the existing signals and telecom systems.
The commissioning period, which included the test train, lasted from 23.00 hrs on 24 December to 05.00 hrs on 27 December and was completed successfully. The new feeding arrangement is now supplying increased power to this section of track and the branch lines.
Skanska is combining its civil engineering and M&E skills for the project that involves building, installing and commissioning the new switching equipment at various locations. This includes the switching station at Corey’s Mill, a new feeder station at Langley, modifications to the existing mid-point track sectioning cabin (MPTSC) at Hitchin to convert it into a feeder station and new MPTSCs at three other locations.
The feeder stations provide additional 25,000 V feeds to be delivered to the system, while the MPTSC provide fault detection and clearance as well as remote and local isolation switching to occur.