First successful commissionings of Brighton Main Line reed track circuit conversions

Brighton Main Line area covered by the project

// Improving infrastructure resilience 

DEG Signal Ltd was commissioned, as a sub-contractor to S&T Cover Ltd, to undertake the signalling design for the replacement of fifty track circuits between East Croydon and Redhill. More specifically, removing the now obsolete GEC Reed Track Circuits and installing EBI200 (TI21) style track circuits.

As the GEC Reed Track Circuits are now obsolete, spare parts are becoming difficult to obtain. Additionally, the track circuits are incompatible with some types of modern rolling stock and their performance is poor.

The Brighton Main Line is divided in the north into two sections running from London Victoria and London Bridge to Brighton. It is about 50 miles long, and is electrified throughout, with a maximum operating speed of 90 mph.

This project will go a long way to improving infrastructure resilience on this important route.


// A partnership forged between DEG Signal Ltd and S&T Cover Ltd

The project was delivered jointly with partner company, S&T Cover Ltd, who was the Principal Contractor to Network Rail on the project.

S&T Cover & DEG Signal have a proven history of delivering successful projects on both Sussex and Wessex routes over a number of years, since commencing partnering in 2012.

A special mention should also be included of the Network Rail Project Team who embraced the collaborative working of DEG Signal and S&T Cover and were able to enhance this with their pragmatic and flexible approach.

Gary Hirons, Managing Director at DEG Signal adds, “The highlight of the project to date is that all planned commissionings have been delivered on time, on budget and without any incidents.”


// Overcoming the issue of site access

In terms of issues faced on the project, site access appeared to be the biggest. This was to be expected of course, as the Brighton Main Line is one of the busiest lines on the network.

To help overcome this, DEG Signal, utilised Omnicom data obtained from Network Rail to assist with the production of draft Signalling Scheme Plans later confirmed by site surveys undertaken by S&T Cover.

Gary Hirons said: “It became more apparent during this project that, wherever possible, alternative means of obtaining site information should be utilised to overcome access issues. This reduces the amount of time personnel have to be trackside, increasing safety and reducing costs to Network Rail.”


// A design team effort

Gary Hirons, Managing Director at DEG Signal, led the project from the bid through to completion as project manager. William Palmer was appointed the Signalling CRE (Design) for the project and was ably supported by a number of DEG Signal designers.


// Why were the GEC track circuits used in the first place?

The route between Thornton Heath / Anerley and Brighton was re-signalled in the 1980s and controlled by Three Bridges ASC. At the time, the intention was to reduce PW maintenance with the use of GEC Jointless Reed Track Circuits.

However, this type of track circuit was found to be prone to wrong side failures due to frequency run-round. To overcome this problem the track circuits were re-configured to jointed reed, fitted with simple loops used to achieve signal replacement and aspect release facilities etc.

The South-East Route requires all GEC Reed Track Circuits (some 200 in the Three Bridges ASC Area) to be replaced by EBI200 (TI21) style Track Circuits.


// Next steps

There are a further eight commissioning stages planned in the coming months which will see the replacement of a further 30 track circuits between East Croydon and Redhill.

For further updates on the project progress please contact Gary Hirons, Managing Director at DEG Signal on +44 (0) 1985 212 020.


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