HS2 gets Royal Assent

rail speed conceptWhilst things have been ticking along in the background for HS2, there haven’t been too many headlines recently – until now. After 3 years of work, the HS2 project received Royal Assent on February 23rd.

What exactly does this mean for HS2? Put simply, it means that work can start. Construction schedules can be drawn up, suppliers can begin to prepare their bid documents and also gear up their own supply chain requirements in preparation.
The project will not be without problems though. At every step of the way to date there have been objections to overcome. Issues around compulsory purchase of property, the environment and potential job losses in some areas have been, and will continue to be contentious issues. Those objections are counter balanced by the many that believe improved connections between the major cities will bring increased investment, business and jobs. Continue reading

Engineering highlights of 2016

general engineering imageAs we approach the year end we thought we’d take a look back at some of the new and innovative engineering stories and reports that came out this year.

There were some astounding breakthroughs in the medical and healthcare sectors as well as enhancements in the more run of the mill procedures.

Osseo integration (the practice of using pins to implant directly into the bone) has been in the news throughout the year. Despite many successful surgeries overseas, growth in the use of the procedure has been relatively slow. A UK pilot of the procedure for military personnel who have lost limbs launched in September this year. If successful it is hoped the use of the procedure can be adopted more widely. Continue reading

Hyperloop One agree deal with Dubai Road Transport Authority

Hyperloop capsuleHyperloop One has agreed a deal with the Dubai Road Transport Authority to assess the delivery of a hyperloop system that will reduce the time taken to travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

The system which works using a vacuum-sealed pod transport system could potentially reduce the time taken to travel the 90 miles from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in as little as 12 minutes. Whilst initially the aim is to concentrate on what a hyperloop system can achieve across the United Arab Emirates (UAE), there is speculation that it could be expanded at a later date to build links with neighbouring Gulf countries. The current travel time by plane between Dubai and Saudi Arabia is 2 hours; with Hyperloop that travel time could be halved. Continue reading

Why leaves cause delays on the rail network

leaves on rail networkThe weather has turned positively autumnal with a drop in temperature and leaves starting to drop from the trees. At this time of year commuters across the country groan and begin to think about how often the weather is likely to disrupt their daily journey to work. Leaves on the track is frequently put forward as the major reason for causing seasonal disruption to services on our rail network, and whilst at face value the reason sounds a little far-fetched, leaves on the track are in fact, a real safety hazard.

So why do leaves on the rail network cause so many problems? There are 2 key areas where leaves cause problems:

  1. Trains lose their adhesion as the rails become more slippy
  2. Leaves act as an insulator and can disrupt electrical signals on the track.

Continue reading

Siemens testing 707s for South West Trains

siemens 707 trainIn 2014 South West trains introduced electrical multiple units (EMUS) on some routes from London Waterloo. This along with projects to lengthen platforms and trains on other services is just small part of an £800 million investment to improve rail services on the network. In 2015 South West trains ordered a number of Siemens class 707 EMUs for use on the Windsor to London Waterloo commuter service and the first body shell for the 707s was completed in October 2015 at the Siemen’s factory in Germany.

Last month testing of the 707s began in earnest at the Siemen’s dedicated test track in Widenrath, Germany. The state of the art testing site has been designed to test UK fleets to Network Rail standards and should keep disruption to UK train services to a minimum during the testing phase. Continue reading

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