Network Rail has announced a spend of £10.1bn on enhancements to the UK’s railways from 2019 to 2024.

Part of the enhancements include updating over two thirds of the signalling network and providing new infrastructure for big data and communications. This will also involve looking at the use of new materials and technologies for both trackside services and rolling stock.

Communications infrastructure provider, CHH CoNeX, has achieved preferred partner status with German company, Berthold Sichert, developer and manufacturer of polycarbonate cabinets and bases. CHH says that this timely partnership signals a move away from the UK’s reliance on more traditional metal alternatives and is set to modernise the delivery of CHH’s network projects in road, rail and telecommunications. 

CHH says that polycarbonate cabinets offer a host of benefits compared to their metal counterparts, giving CHH the ability to customise and configure cabinets to each individual customer’s requirements. The modular design of the cabinets means that individual units can be modified or upgraded in isolation, which also allows for internal equipment to be reconfigured and damaged parts replaced on site without any interruption to rail services. 

As a material, polycarbonate is as strong as metal, but will not weaken or corrode, and is flame resistant. This is especially important in the rail environment, which is subject to heavy vibrations and corrosive brake dust. Polycarbonate has no effect on radio frequency signals, allowing 4G and 5G signals to pass through.

Speaking about the new partnership, Tim Hughes, managing director at CHH, said: “Sichert has a reputation for quality in development and engineering. We’re really pleased that its polycarbonate cabinets will provide an innovative solution within our communications infrastructure networks.”

CHH was recently awarded its first contract with a major transport mobility company for the supply of cabling in multiple variants for signal harnessing. The companyis also a proactive member of the Rail Forum and the newly-formed BCRRE (Birmingham Centre for Rail Research & Education)Rail Alliance partnership.