Stobart welcomed representatives from Network Rail, Skanska, Amey Sersa, Nexus, Babcock, Buckingham Group, Morgan Sindall, GKD Technologies and West Cumbria Mining to get up close to plant innovations designed to deliver greater reliability and safer worksites.

The display was part of a Plant and Innovation Day organised by Stobart Rail & Civils at the company’s new head office facility located at the airport.

Having made a significant investment in the research and development of innovative plant solutions, the event was a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the companies latest developments to industry stakeholders to gain valuable feedback.

Protection system

An early highlight of the event was the launch of Stobart Protection Systems, their new ALO (adjacent line open) protection system for trackside civils plant and personnel. This uses 3D cameras and illumination units to measure and continuously plot position in relation to the track. Visual and audible warnings are then triggered whenever an object – person, plant, equipment, or anything else on the worksite – approaches the predefined limits.

This is linked to all plant items’ operating systems so that as the limit is reached the machine’s movements are automatically ceased, making it impossible for any part of the plant to leave the safe zone.

Stobart’s soot remover is a new RRV attachment used to clean all areas of tunnel linings that are contaminated with soot build-up, as well as being able to fit a variety of brushes to suit diverse applications such as graffiti removal and platform cleaning.

This provides a valuable solution that exposes long-hidden brickwork for inspection, for preparation before brickwork repairs or for any other work such as the installation of overhead electrification.

By removing potentially harmful contaminants before personnel enter the worksite, this ensures that engineers are able to properly inspect structural elements to determine best construction solutions, minimising the risk of later delays or abortive works through incomplete information.

The unit has an inbuilt tilt and rotation system, allowing placement at any angle to sweep tunnel walls and roof areas, and also to clean vertical walls and station platforms. It is entirely self-contained and incorporates an industrial vacuum to collect all soot for safe disposal.

David McCallum, area plant manager, Infrastructure Support Services, Network Rail Scotland East, said he was impressed by how advanced Stobart’s plant fleet had become. He added: “I was really impressed by the exclusion zone proximity warning that was on the excavator with the tunnel brush.”

Jack & Tamper Unit

Also on display was Stobart’s self-contained and road deliverable Jack & Tamper Unit that provides high quality track alignment during small renewals, re-ballasting or maintenance activities. The unit also removes the need to jack and pack the track using manual labour, reducing risk and the chance of manual fatigue, and saving time and cost.

For maximum flexibility the Jack & Tamper Unit can be lifted onto track using an RRV, or a small mobile crane, and then either towed to the worksite using an RRV or operated entirely under its own power.

It has impressive capability to lift up to 300 mm and slew 100 mm, and its compaction feet and twin Kinghoffer four-tool tamping banks allow independent lateral movement for complete flexibility around the many obstructions encountered within S&C and plain line sites.

The Jack & Tamper Unit is an ideal companion for Stobart’s fleet of ballast undercutters that are working throughout the UK, delivering cost-effective track re-ballasting, track lowering, wet beds removal, and S&C refurbishment.

Stobart’s latest ballast undercutter is the third major iteration of the technology that the company has been perfecting for over 10 years. This machine incorporates a rubber-tracked undercarriage to increase on and off tracking capabilities – it can move under its own power from a lineside position and onto the track using only a temporary RRAP. It also has both front and rear tilting axles, which allow the cross-fall of the cutter bar to be set from the safety of the cab. The machine can also be connected to TMDs (track measuring devices) to provide valuable engineering assurance data.

Each ballast undercutter is equipped with Stobart Rail’s bespoke integrated operating system, with a 12-inch touchscreen in the cab connected to their head office using a GPS/GSM modem with CAN (Controller Area Network) interface. This provides a continuous live data feed of the machine’s operating parameters, from pre-start checks through to completion of operations, to allow the engineering team to access the system remotely for performance monitoring and to aid in diagnostics.

A recent project that capitalised on Stobart’s ballast undercutter capability was at Tinsley Green, next to Gatwick Airport in Sussex. Stobart delivered this challenging site over a bank holiday weekend that included nearly 400 metres of re-ballasting, including through an S&C unit, before handing back with a 50mph TSR for one week then a follow-up tamp reinstated the 90mph line speed.

Pride in delivery

This fully integrated plant capability provides innovative and reliable solutions that make major operational delivery benefits on rail industry clients’ sites throughout the country. Stobart Rail & Civils’ managing director, Kirk Taylor, believes it has been a key component in Stobart’s ongoing success and that this was clear in the way the entire team was proud to share a flavour of it with their guests on the day.

Kirk Taylor said: “Stobart’s pride in delivering great plant solutions extends to our impressive maintenance regime managed by our in-house plant team that across our entire fleet is delivering reliability figures that are consistently exceeding 99 per cent, according to Network Rail’s Rail Plant Performance System (RailPPS). I think this has definitely been shown here today”


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