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Network Rail opens vehicle developpement centre

07/30/2009 AT 06:13

Network Rail is investing over £100m in new, more efficient machinery and engineering technologies to help minimise passenger disruption caused by renewals and maintenance work. The newly-restored track, a former colliery line, will be used to carry out development work as well as acceptance trials which have to be completed whenever new equipment is introduced to the network.

The new development centre includes 10 miles of track between High Marnham and Thoresby colliery junction and will also be used as a training facility. The facility provides a safe and realistic environment for engineers to get to grips with new machinery and develop new, more efficient ways of working.

The new centre incorporates a stretch of restored track that served the former High Marnham coal-fired power station which was shut down in 2003. The track was selected for its strategic location, relatively good condition and the ease in which it could be re-connected to the national rail network via the Robin Hood line.

The facility includes many common characteristics found on the rail network: a signalling system, calibrated curves and has a maximum linespeed of 50mph. The track is mostly single line railway with three miles of double track, and has the potential to be upgraded to a higher linespeed of up to 75mph.

Jerry England, Network Rail's director, engineering said: “The new facility will enable our rail vehicle engineers to safely trial, optimise and commission new and modified rail vehicles and on-track plant in typical conditions, without causing disruption to the network. It has wider benefits in that we can also carry out trials in realistic conditions of new machinery, thereby further supporting our product acceptance processes.

"We want the centre to be a facility for the whole of the rail industry which means we can offer a service to help our industry partners reduce research and development costs, and we hope to improve the facility further if it proves popular with our industry partners.”

Martin Elwood, director for Network Rail's national delivery service, added: “This rail vehicle development facility is the fulfilment of a long-held ambition for Network Rail. The centre will provide a first class facility for the whole of the rail industry for training engineers and carrying out trials for new and modified rail vehicles safely. This will help reduce costs associated with research and development as up until now the industry has had to pay for non-Network Rail owned infrastructure to carry out track and vehicle testing activities.”

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