Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of the majority of the rail network in EnglandScotlandand Wales. It runs, maintains and develops rail tracks, signalling, bridges, tunnels, level crossings and many key stations.

Every year Network Rail enables nearly 1.7 billion passenger journeys across the country’s rail infrastructure, as well as the movement of more than 100 million tonnes of freight between the UK’s ports, factories and warehouses. It is also responsible for ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the network.

Background to Installation

The UK rail market faces increasing demand from passenger travel, the rail freight industry, and the ongoing need for network asset replacement. Rail operators need intelligent solutions to monitor, control and optimise the electrical assets on the rail network in order to ensure installer and commuter safety. One example of this is the need to enhance the safety of switchgear in the IT network. In order to do this, double insulated (Class II) product compliant with electrical regulations for protection against electric shock has been supplied.

In order to fulfil its vision to create a railway fit for the 21st century, it is essential that Network Rail meets the highest standards and regulations. As part of this commitment, Network Rail needed to replace the metal Functional Supply Point (FSP) 01’s on the Robin Hood Line (running between Nottingham and Worksop), bringing it in line with current safety requirements.

Solution and Benefits

In order to improve and deliver an up to date installation of signalling supplies, and reduce costs, Schneider electric engineered the FSP01 in line with Network Rail Specification NR/L2/27409. Working in close collaboration with Network Rail, Schneider Electric has developed a comprehensive range of FSP switchgear assemblies based around its core range of double insulated Class II enclosures, which provides superior protection from electric shock and scratches.

1.       A tailored approach

In 2012, Schneider Electric designed and built a standard range of functional supply points to Network Rail’s specification. However, the Robin Hood Line required a bespoke solution to meet its own specific requirements as a retrofit project. Working with the local RAM, Schneider Electric’s in-house design team developed the customised FSP01 solution to meet the requirements of Network Rail, guaranteeing improved safety and allowing for ease of installation.

2.       From the start to the end of the line

From start to finish, the upgrade process required a robust and detailed approach. In the early stages of the development, Network Rail’s requirements were evolving. Design reviews were held at regular intervals with the RAM in order to validate progress and mitigate any potential issues. This ensured strict compliance with the specification including all the standard low voltage switchgear tests; dielectric tests; IP tests and temperature rise tests. 

3.       Approvals

Schneider Electric’s comprehensive range of class II FSP’s have full PADs approval. The Network Rail practice for ensuring equipment is suitable for use in critical applications on the network. Renowned as one of the most rigorous processes of its kind, it involved comprehensive review of design, application of the equipment, compliance with specification, verification data, operational and maintenance manual, supply of spare parts, and routine testing which is a fundamental requirement for any Network Rail product installation. The Robin Hood Line retrofit is based on the PADs approved solution.

The Future

The bespoke solution has been successfully deployed along the Robin Hood Line. “Network Rail is delighted with the service provided and as a result will confidently call upon Schneider Electric when cutting-edge design and quality manufacturing is required, all in our drive to establish ourselves as the nation’s leading railway service. We are always looking to embrace new technologies, especially when it helps realise its vision to create a railway fit for a modern Britain,” said Alan Haigh, senior asset engineer, Network Rail.

Schneider Electric is currently working on its latest range of FSP’s to Networks Rail’s revised specification and are also about to release a brand new compact principal supply point, offering continuity of supply on the network, whilst demonstrating significant capex and opex savings.