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Ryan Scott

Ryan Scott
Engineering Manager
Network Rail Consulting

Presentation Title: Network Rail’s High Output Plant System

Joint Rail Conference (JRC) 2019 Call for Presentation

Company: Network Rail Consulting

Network Rail’s High Output Plant System
Faced with growing pressure to reduce carbon emissions, European countries are increasingly making moves to power their trains with electricity instead of diesel. Network Rail, owner and operator of the UK rail infrastructure is currently engaged in electrification projects across the country including lines in Glasgow, Manchester and London. It is also building and extending new lines with Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) for Crossrail and High Speed 2 (HS2), two of the most high-profile ongoing rail projects in Europe.

For intensely used railroads, electrification has been shown to be better for the environment, quieter, cost less in the long term, improve journey times, and significantly lighter – meaning less wear and tear to the track.

If electric locomotives have so many advantages compared to diesel-powered locomotives, why aren't they more widespread in North America? One universal drawback appears to be the price of entry. For example, the electrification of the 86 miles of Portugal’s Algarve Line, which is set to be completed in 2020, is expected to cost a total of $39m (€33.6m).

A significant factor in the business case for electrification of the Great Western Mail Line, one of Britain’s oldest and busiest railroads, has been the development, by Network Rail, of the High Output Plant System (HOPS). Based at our High Output Operations Base in Swindon, the $52m (£40m) state-of-the-art HOPS train fully automates all of the processes required to install new OLE.

It works for seven to eight hours – depending on where it’s being used – for six nights a week. With a top speed of 60mph – but working at 5mph during a possession, or 15mph if it's the only activity on site – the HOPS train can build the electrical infrastructure at an average of around one mile (1.6km) per night. 

Made up of 23 vehicles forming five ‘consists’ (the elements of the HOPS), the HOPS factory train has three specialized sections – each delivers a different stage of work and is pre-loaded with everything it needs to install the overhead wiring and the structures that hold the electrical equipment.

This presentation will provide insights into the development and use of the Network Rail HOPS and the benefits in Overhead Line construction it has provided.