With Network Rail continually monitoring in their approach to reduce risk across the network, utilising Aquarius Rail vehicles removes railway staff from the track and into green zone working.
It is incredible to think that we are already in March 2021. As many rejoice at the fact that the nights are drawing out it is prudent to look ahead at the rest of the calendar year. On the railway especially, every season brings new challenges. It is these challenges that keeps Aquarius Rail busy all year round.
Recent winters have been brutal with relentless snowfall and strong winds. There are occasions when Aquarius Rail vehicles have been called upon to rapidly respond to fallen trees on the line as a result of heavy snow. Network Rail S&T Section Manager, Leeds Signals Team Andy Davies explained that the relentless heavy snow fall in January had brought down a large tree track side which a train had later collided with. The impact of this collision meant two signalling location cabinets had been knocked over. During the course of the next 72 hours the Network Rail Leeds S&T team utilised the Aquarius Rail Road2Rail4x4 and Road2Rail Trailer to transport railway personnel, materials and tools backwards and forwards to the site of the impact. Despite being a tough 4×4, the Aquarius Rail R2R4x4s are incredibly flexible and can readily adapt to many situations. This was the case a few years ago when the ‘Beast from the East’ caused havoc, putting the country on pause, and dumping as much as 20 inches of snow in some places. The Aquarius Rail R2R4x4s took the inclement conditions in their stride enabling the Leeds signals to carry on with pre-planned maintenance when most other work had to be cancelled or re-scheduled.
Flash floods and inspections
Substantial rainfall often leads to flash flooding. Aquarius Rail vehicles are robust enough to help with the variety of issues
flooding brings. Head of Maintenance Delivery at Network Rail Ian Puckrin informed us of a number of times where Aquarius Rail has done just that. ‘Flooding had led to a points machine needing to be replaced quickly as it was preventing a train full of coal reaching a local power station. Utilising the R2R4x4 & R2R Trailer and Crane Attachment, the flooded points machine could be replaced rapidly and coherently meaning there was no significant power shortage in the local area.’ Due to Aquarius Rail vehicles being hugely time efficient from the road to on tracking at the access point and down to the site of the incident, they are utilised widely for inspections. Being able to rapidly respond to incidents as a result of extreme weather has meant Aquarius Rail has carried out inspections the length of Britain from the sea wall at Dawlish to landslips at Glenfinnan. The British Transport Police utilise the Aquarius Rail R2R4x4 for trespass patrols in specific parts of the country also.
Although the words ‘hot weather’ and ‘Britain’ may seem like a paradox, the hottest day ever recorded in Britain was just last year. There are many challenges the hot weather brings for the railway, none more so than weed control and Aquarius Rail helps with this. There are many ways Aquarius Rail make everyday rail tasks simple and safe. One way is through collaborative working arrangements. Our collaboration with Weed free is particularly important in the summer months. Weed free and Aquarius Rail’s RS1 Road Rail Weed Spray module creates a sustainable treatment solution to the world’s railways, by utilising no premixed herbicides, many miles of Britain’s track and cess are treated sustainably and efficiently.
Leaf fall in the autumn is a perennial problem on the railways. There are ten million trees adjacent to the track and their falling leaves cause adhesion issues. Crushed leaves contaminate the railhead drastically reducing the train’s braking efficiency and decreasing traction when setting off. It can be likened to ‘ice on the roads’ and can lead to significant train delays.
Furthermore, the leaf contamination creates a barrier between railhead and train wheel, which can cause serious signal failures where the train ‘disappears’. This signalling issue is known as ‘wrong side-track failure’. Since 2009 Aquarius Rail has been modifying its Road2Rail4x4s to help Network Rail and later modifying Nexus Rail’s Road2Rail Ford Ranger to help in the battle against leaves on the line. Referred to as a ‘Sand Rover’, or more latterly as a Sand R2R4x4, these vehicles, equipped with seasonal treatment, are deployed where it is not feasible to run a railhead treatment train on branch and freight lines. Typically, they replace treatment by hand, as part of a variety of ‘weapons’ or solely used in the battle against leaves on the line. Using the Sand R2R4x4 eliminates manual applications. The cleaning of the railhead and application of the Citrasolve and Sandite is done at the touch of a button from inside the cab. As part of Aquarius Rail’s work to help keep the railway network moving during the challenging Autumn season, Aquarius Rail supply Sand R2R4x4’s from the far North of Scotland down to the Western Route.
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