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News from the UK Rail Industry 21st March 2019

Posted by: Warren Drobac
Industry News

HS2 energy to power hundreds of homes

Engineers for HS2 Ltd are planning to tap heat from the brakes and engines of high-speed trains for a heating scheme that could power hot water and central heating for hundreds of new homes.

Waste heat from trains is traditionally extracted by ventilation systems and filtered into the ground surrounding the tunnels. Instead, HS2 Ltd plan to capture and exploit this waste heat. The proposed scheme would utilise five air source heat pumps to draw warm air from the railway’s tunnels and feed it into a local District Heating System.

Pablo García, HS2 Innovation Manager, said: “HS2 is so much more than a railway. By taking a long-term view of how the benefits of investing in the new high-speed railway can be shared, we’re investigating how to provide sustainable, low-carbon heating and hot water to up to 500 new homes. We’re building a crossover box. This is an underground hall that houses railway points to enable trains to arrive and depart from any of the station’s platforms. Our plans would see warm air pushed into the crossover box by trains, in effect acting like pistons. It then rises to be harnessed by air source heat pumps, converted into hot water and transported to homes by insulated pipes.”

HS2 Ltd forecasts that an investment in the waste heat recycling system would pay for itself after just four years and would also reduce the carbon footprint of 500 houses.

Plans are at an early stage but HS2 Ltd says that the technology is proven. Old Oak Common’s crossover box is currently the only place capable of supporting waste heat recovery technology, but HS2 has said there may be further opportunities, specifically on the network’s Leeds and Manchester routes. 

García explained: “Our study focused on possible Phase One opportunities because its designs are most advanced. Designs for the second phase of the railway are at an earlier stage, and we hope to look at whether waste heat recovery technology could be deployed there too.”

Navartis Business Manager and Rail Recruitment Specialist Warren Drobac said: “It’s refreshing to see an emphasis being placed on HS2’s positive impact. HS2 continues to be an innovative project for the rail sector and we’re proud that it can be utilised by other industries, such as Power, for the benefit of the UK’s homes and businesses.”

Currently more than 1,000 people are at work on HS2, clearing the way for the start of construction. In total more than 7,000 jobs are currently supported by the HS2 project, both directly and in the UK-wide supply chain. Full story.

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Network Rail announces preferred bidder for £1.5 billion upgrades

Network Rail has announced the final preferred bidder for delivery of track upgrade works for the next decade in Central England. Worth an estimated £1.5bn, projects will include upgrades to track, points, and associated overhead lines and signalling. The upgrades will take place over the next 10 years.

Contracts are subject to contract terms being finalised and agreed, but Balfour Beatty, TSO and SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business have been awarded the contract, which includes work in London North West, London North East and East Midlands routes. 

Steve Featherstone, Network Rail’s programme director Track, said: “I look forward to working closely with Balfour Beatty, TSO and Atkins to establish our new alliance to deliver great value for the taxpayer and great service for our passengers and freight customers. Reaching this important milestone ensures we will have a stable foundation for the delivery of the core railway infrastructure across Great Britain for the next decade.”

Balfour Beatty Group Chief Executive Leo Quinn, said: “Balfour Beatty is proud to be part of the alliance appointed to ensure reliability of the UK’s rail network. Our expertise will be focused on driving innovative solutions that deliver sustainable, safer rail infrastructure.

Philip Hoare, CEO of Atkins UK & Europe, said: “This is a significant and exciting appointment for Atkins as part of an alliance helping to deliver the biggest upgrade to Britain’s railways in 150 years.”

The announcement is off the back of news that Babcock Rail, Arup and Arcadis are the preferred bidders for Scotland and Colas Rail, and that AECOM are preferred bidders for the South. This latest news completes the full picture of rail system work in the UK for the next decade. Full story.

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