Somercotes Train Brain Bender
Terence Clair and the Somercotes Rail Solutions team have recently produced a mind-boggling piece of work for Network Rail. The intricate problem involved producing new concrete bearers for points on a section of railway at Nine Elms (Waterloo/Vauxhall) in London.
Network Rail came to Terence as they knew that the CEMEX team had the expertise and knowledge to work with them to come up with the solution they needed. The precision design for the concrete bearers had never been tried before and the customer was keen to capitalise on the knowledge and expertise of CEMEX Rail Solutions.
The challenge was complex, the most notable element was to produce 12.8 metre long modular crossing bearers for the points. They had to be split into four units. A shroud would then join these units together using fittings cast into the concrete. All this had to be produced without compromising the tolerances of the gauge of any of the seven tracks to be laid on these bearers. These tolerances are within mms of the track gauge – the tolerances were only +/- 1mm or 1.5mm. Over a 12m span this is a massive challenge, then throw pre-stress shrinkage of the four pieces of concrete into the mix and you have an idea of the scale of the request!
The team had to come up with a brand new way of capturing data and manufacturing such long bearers with three splits. They used a process that had never been tried before, with the biggest challenge being the shrinkage of the concrete during our manufacturing process.
Through brilliant teamwork, expertise and customer relationship the CEMEX team pulled together and overcame all of the challenges. The bearers were successfully produced and installed making the customer extremely happy!
Terence Clair, Operations Manager, said: “We are often faced with complex challenges when we make non-standard and a highly bespoke products. Our working relationship with Network Rail and other customers has gone from strength to strength over the last six years. The team here have a positive attitude to solving challenges. Our strong teamwork allows for one problem to be shared by many which creates open conversations, and together we find a solution.
I have a saying that is often used in these situations: ‘look at a problem or issue as a challenge, see a challenge as an opportunity, today is a day full of opportunities and our day to shine’. We have again shown what customer centricity means and I am immensely proud of all the team at Somercotes for delivering one of the most sophisticated challenging projects yet to date.”