Mainspring LRT Excellence Day: From Theory to Practice


Wolverhampton Grand Station hosted the first Mainspring LRT Day of Excellence of 2022 on 10 February. Focusing on infrastructure maintenance and renewal, the day welcomed participants from the UK and Europe for a program of presentations and discussions that featured award-winning innovations, case studies of recent projects and demonstrations of revolutionary technologies.

Marta Gasch Bielsa, project manager for the Midland Metro Alliance, started with an overview of Birmingham’s new Eastside Metro extension. Ms Gasch offered an overview of this massive scheme to extend the West Midlands Underground by 1.7km (1.05 miles) from Bull Street to Digbeth in 2024, exploring the issues associated with creating a new “delta junction” in the city center. Some, she explained, were common to projects around the world: a congested urban environment, unplanned utility diversions, and material and supply delays. Others were the inevitable additional headaches associated with delivering major work during COVID.

His description of the new precast concrete rail system which was assembled off-site to enable remarkably quick installation – saving disruption and cost in the process – was of interest to many.

Project managers from Nottingham Trams delivered an equally fascinating lecture on another issue necessary for any established tram: renewals. With many of the UK’s second generation systems now approaching the age where key assets have expired, Marek Szwej and Will Hughes have detailed the planning behind the 2021 lane relay project in the busy lace market from the city. This busy central point of the system features a tight curve and complex gradients, with the works also cutting the network in half, requiring the fleet to be stopped on the system overnight for long periods. Delivered in record time with the support of proven and trusted contractors, the duo explained, this complex project presented the added complexity of an accelerated schedule at the request of the city.

In addition to the ongoing work, other conferences have explored some of the exciting innovations aimed at reducing the cost of new diets. Dr Christopher Micallef from the University of Warwick presented the technical details of the new track shape for Britain’s groundbreaking Very Light Rail initiative. Aiming for a final cost of just £10/km for a turnkey system of vehicles and infrastructure, advanced materials and clever design should enable the installation of the new 300mm slab track, eliminating the need for a large part of the process of diverting public services, long and expensive. .

Pablo Oromí, project manager for Metrotenerife, traveled to the UK to present another award-winning initiative – a removable track isolation chamber created in-house. In addition to accelerating lane renewal activity by eliminating much of the unnecessary waste associated with splintering the surrounding road surface, this patented method has now been in service for five years. Demonstrating a remarkable 40% savings over traditional methods, the system is compatible with all major track and fixing systems and is easy to integrate into a variety of surface coverings, making it a win-win system.

Thomas Lorent, Managing Director of Sustainable Resilient Systems for Pandrol, also focused on sustainability with his case for using recycled materials in LRT track construction. Such a low CO2 The methods can not only bolster rail’s reputation as a natural “champion”, he argued, but also address indirect emissions related to manufacturing. Additionally, new and improved materials can provide better noise and vibration protection for city centers – another pervasive and vexing issue when managing sensitive stakeholder relationships.

Leading to an engaged debate on materials technology, Mr. Lorent went on to dispel many of the myths surrounding the use of environmentally friendly materials, presenting samples of Pandrol’s latest products for delegates to view themselves.

Of course, sustainability has to start much earlier, as Andy Willetts of Bentley Systems described in a wide-ranging discussion of the role of modern digital solutions. Leading to greater harmony between multidisciplinary teams, often based in different countries, having a common platform can significantly reduce the cost of rework or duplication before a spade is about to enter. in the ground. Introducing the concept of “digital twins”, Mr. Willetts explained how every piece of infrastructure can now be built in the virtual world. Such detailed modeling has further benefits for operations and asset management teams by giving a much more comprehensive view of a network’s multi-generational lifecycle.

Naturally, security was also a hot topic of discussion. Neil Bradbury of Schweizer Electronic led the way with case studies of new crossing technology being developed for the UK Mainnet. Such systems for managing the interface between rail, road and pedestrians, he explained, are used on metro and tram networks in Europe and use “off-the-shelf” commercial components. (COTS) proven for rugged and reliable performance. These offer significant cost savings over bespoke parts, with Mr Bradbury citing the example of a customer who bought a few hundred bucks worth of spares years ago that were “still gathering dust” because they are never used!

Exploring further the interface between urban rail and the public, Robert Woerfel of Sealable opened the afternoon session by describing a new product being used on the Basel tram to minimize risk to cyclists and other road users. wheeled road when crossing grooved tracks – a serious problem familiar to many LRT operators. The collapsible (and recycled) “Velogleis” rubber infill has virtually eliminated the problem of wheels getting stuck in tram tracks, he explained, and his demonstration has generated considerable interest from the public of designers, d engineers and infrastructure managers.

To wrap up the day, Andy Clarke from Alphatek provided a case study on how a new patented coating dramatically increases the life of switch blades. Currently used on Network Rail infrastructure, the same coatings can be used on any rail system, he said, with data showing a significant increase in the time needed between inspections and renewals of key components. The effects on track safety and life-cycle costs can be dramatic, he argued.

In addition to presentations and interactive sessions, Mainspring’s LRT Excellence Days allow delegates to get the most out of networking among those who have day-to-day responsibility for maintaining and operating networks with the supply chain. supply that sustains them.

There are so many innovations in the world of SLR infrastructure – and this first event of 2022 has certainly helped start those conversations and open some eyes to the possibilities, hopefully putting theory into practice. .

> For more information on this SLR Day of Excellence and upcoming events, please visit: MAIN EVENTS


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