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[ Spotlight: Rail opportunities ]

Making tracks D

There may be spending cuts on the cards, but the rail industry is still one area where investment still offers opportunities, as Katie Silvester reports

uring the last few years of the Labour government, unprecedented levels of spending were committed to the rail industry – and there are few rail projects that don’t involve electricity.

Network Rail is currently spending around £4.5bn a year on improving the rail network – and that doesn’t include spending on Crossrail, the new train line that is being built across London. But introducing a note of uncertainty into that sunny

picture is the coalition government’s forthcoming spending review. Due in October, the review is certain to see some rail schemes cancelled or scaled back. Thankfully, though, some projects are too far advanced to be cancelled and others, such as Crossrail, have already received assurances from the transport secretary that they have the coalition government’s support. So there is no doubting that there will be plentiful

opportunities for electrical contractors at railway stations over the next few years. Examples of work being done include London King’s Cross station and Birmingham New Street, both of which are getting major overhauls. Also taking place during the next fi ve years is a nationwide project called Access for All, which will see upgraded disabled facilities at stations, bringing improvements such as lifts to 149 stations by 2015.

Across the tracks: Crossrail will involve plenty of station project work

Stations action Mike Goggin, Network Rail’s director of stations and customer service, says: ‘Even the small schemes tend to involve electrical work. If you take the National Stations Improvement Programme, quite a lot of the improvement in passenger facilities involves things like CCTV, additional customer information systems and installation of waiting rooms. So we have a scale of electric engineering, but also telecommunications engineering as well, which needs power. It’s diffi cult to have a station scheme which doesn’t have electricity somewhere in it. ‘Going forward, we, like most of the rest of the country –

never mind the railway industry – will be holding our breath to see what happens on October 20 at the spending review. But it’s likely that the industry will still invest in stations, because we need to continue with that momentum. We still need growth and we still have to deal with capacity constraints that stations can sometimes represent. So we will have schemes, for example at Euston and Waterloo, to provide improved pedestrian access in and around the station.’

About the author

Katie Silvester Katie Silvester is the editor of Rail Professional magazine, the leading magazine for the rail industry. She was the Seahorse Feature Journalist of the Year in 2009.

Power lines Aside from stations, there are also plans to electrify more railway lines, allowing cheaper, more reliable electric trains to replace diesel units on areas of the network. The Great Western Main Line is currently due to be electrifi ed by 2017, with a line from Manchester to Liverpool due to be wired up by 2013. But both schemes are subject to government review and could be postponed, or even cancelled. Bailey Rail, a specialist division of ECA member NG Bailey,

is a veteran of the rail industry, having done electrical work on a range of rail projects including the current King’s Cross development, Tottenham Court Road upgrade, and trackside power supply for signalling. Paul Cogan, managing director

Autumn 2010 ECA Today 53

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