In October 2002, Network Rail took over the running of Britain’s rail infrastructure with a mandate from the Government to improve the safety, reliability and efficiency of the railway.
This infrastructure includes:
- 20,000 miles of track
- 40,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts
- 18 major stations
- 8,200 commercial properties
- 2,500 stations leased to train operators
- 9 train-care depots
Of the 2,500 stations owned by Network Rail, many are leased back to train operators. However, the company manages the 18 largest stations that handle 80% of passengers, including London King’s Cross, Birmingham New Street and Edinburgh Waverley.
Network Rail’s maintenance strategy includes the general day-to-day upkeep of the railway which keeps the trains running, such as looking after tracks, signals and power supply. Rail engineering includes the larger-scale infrastructure work, such as track replacement.
In 2011, construction began on a new £1m maintenance depot in Hereford, to provide a strategic maintenance hub for the railway between Cwmbran and Ludlow and much of the railway in the Heart of Wales. The 4,000 square feet depot, designed with modern facilities, was completed in March 2012.
The depot is integral to Network Rail’s wider devolution strategy in creating regional centres to become even more responsive to its customers and passengers. It also marks the company’s continuous commitment to improve the railway in the area (including the Heart of Wales), where around £8m of improvement and maintenance work has been earmarked to be delivered by 2013.
As a preferred supplier, having fitted storage solutions at Network Rail depots across the UK including Reading, London Bridge, Carlisle, Liverpool and Rugby, Link 51 was tasked with providing its storage expertise at the Hereford site.
The depot’s eight stores, occupying a 42m x 12m footprint, required bespoke shelving and storage solutions, the largest of which being the Minor Stocking Point (MSP), accommodating the depot’s emergency spares.
Network Rail’s key criteria for the Hereford depot included:
- robust, industrial strength shelving for plant and heavier spares such as fishplates, battery packs and chargers and powered plant such as impact wrenches, rail drills and rail saws
- shelving to be easily labelled
- provide easy access
- able to partition shelving into pigeon holes where required.
Although not required at the Hereford site, Link 51 has previously installed mezzanine floors at other Network Rail depots, as a means of increasing overall storage capacity.
Following an initial survey, Link 51’s solution included a combination of Longspan shelving for the depot’s heaviest items and Euroshelving to create flexible storage for hand tools and lighter items. The Euro shelving incorporated wire mesh cladding and fully adjustable shelves, each pierced for dividers as required.
The complete layout consisted of:
- MSP — 12 bays of Longspan shelving and 22 bays of Euro shelving.
- Permanent Way store (P Way) and workshop — 8 bays Longspan shelving and bespoke racking for hand tools.
- Signalling store and workshop — 7 bays of Longspan shelving and 4 lockers.
- Off Track store — 6 bays of Longspan shelving and 3-tier cantilever racking for the storage of long timber items.
- Welding stores — 9 bays of Longspan shelving across 3 stores.
- Technical Team store — 2 bays of Longspan shelving.
- Lubricators Team store — 2 bays of Longspan shelving.
- S&T Battery store — 2 bays of Longspan shelving.
Link 51 also installed a number of heavy-duty workstations, complete with worktop covers, as well as three cages for the storage of gas bottles. The cages were galvanised for external use.
By using Link 51, Network Rail’s Hereford maintenance depot benefited from:
- UK-based in-house manufacturing capability
- Fully managed market-leading bespoke storage solutions
- Extensive knowledge and experience
- High-quality product range combining strength, durability and operational reliability
“Link 51’s storage solution has enabled engineers to control and manage plant and spares more effectively, resulting in faster response times and increased efficiency. And credit to the Link 51 installation team, who quickly completed their work, despite a very busy environment with a number of other contractors on site.
The complete solution is fit for purpose and we are very happy with the end result.”
James Helm, Logistics Coordinator, Network Rail