The Challenge:

Brighton Mainline is a key commuter line, quadruple track for much of its length. Historically this section had been operating a simplified Bi-Directional signalling system. This means during periods when only a single track was available only one train could pass in the reverse direction every 10 minutes.

Passing traffic and trains stopping at Balcombe meant the capacity was at best 3 trains per hour in each direction. The poor condition of Balcombe tunnel meant that major works were inevitable in the future. Kier were commissioned by Network Rail to a design a new system to:

  • Provide signalling solutions to solve the line capacity issues in the section between Balcombe Junction and Haywards Heath during periods of ‘reverse’ working.
  • Provide extra safety systems to keep trains moving through Balcombe tunnel.
  • Deliver the project with maximum safety and minimise disruption.

The Solution:

Kier's internal signalling team of IRSE licensed designers devised a new Bi-Directional signalling system. Civils design was also completed in-house.

The client required a minimum of six trains per hour in each direction utilising one line. This was facilitated by the provision of additional wrong direction signals on both lines. 36 new signals were provided, utilising lightweight, hinged posts with LED heads to improve maintainability and reliability.

To reduce line possessions and minimise safety risks and help sustainability targets, we planned and coordinated the build and testing of 34 new location cases offsite. A dual detection facility, consisting of axle counters and track circuits, was provided in Balcombe tunnel. This system was identified to allow services to continue if one failed.

The Impact:

Design was completed to a high standard which resulted in minimal test logs for the whole commissioning.

We achieved ALARP (as low as reasonably practicable) status with Network Rail prior to the commissioning through detailed project planning and collaboration to reduce project risks. This ensured critical decisions were made at the right times.

Installing Siemens’ Westplex vital transmission remote control system allowed Network Rail to achieve significant savings in signalling multicore cables.

" Thank you everyone, great job! A great team to have worked with and really well done. "
Angus McConchie Asset Protection Project Manager Network Rail

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