Road-rail-vehicle at Crossrail Brentwood engineering

An integrated Crossrail team has come up with an innovative solution to the problem of isolation splits.

The team from Network Rail, Costain and VGC Group worked together to provide crossing neutrals for RRVs (road-rail vehicles) to travel under live overhead line equipment (OLE).

Because it is impractical to switch off too large an area of line, isolation splits are a recurring issue for complex rail jobs, requiring careful management of costs and time. As part of the £150 million Crossrail north-east spur project, cable route works required a series of isolation splits between Gidea Park and Crowlands in Essex.

The team, with input from Network Rail’s maintenance staff, carried out full risk assessments and produced a detailed project procedure which was accepted by Network Rail’s electrification and plant engineer. This allowed RRVs to travel under live overhead lines within possessions for this specific project.

Moving RRVs from one worksite to another involves travelling to the marker boards and informing the engineering supervisor that the machine will be leaving his worksite and travelling through the possession to a second worksite. Between worksites permission is sought from the PICOP for the machine to enter and travel through PICOP land. Before entering the second worksite permission is obtained from the second engineering supervisor.

By arranging to run RRVs to and from worksites under live overhead lines in this manner, better use can be made of resources with a consequent saving in costs.

“The Crossrail Anglia project has been running since 2014, and this is the first time a road rail vehicle has passed under a live overhead line,” said Jacques Kriel, VGC Rail Projects director. “It was a result of a successful collaboration between the Network Rail project team, principal contractor Costain, and VGC.”

Mike Condon, VGC contracts manager, thanked all those involved in setting up the process. “It’s very exciting to be working as part of an integrated team to develop new processes which we can use going forward to deliver this logistically complex project as efficiently as possible,” he said. “I’m sure other projects will also benefit in the future.”

The VGC Group’s £2.3m contract with Costain is for the construction of three key sections of Crossrail’s north-east spur.

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