GRP electrification mast on De Lijn's coastal tram route.

BELGIUM: A glass-fibre reinforced plastic overhead electrification mast developed by Austrian company Powerlines Group is undergoing testing at an exposed location on the coastal tram route operated by De Lijn.

The manufacturer says its patented GRP mast offers server advantages over steel or reinforced concrete equivalents. It is entirely non-conductive, increasing safety for construction and maintenance staff and minimising or eliminating the need for expensive insulators, which can be replaced with cheaper components. GRP masts are much lighter than concrete or steel, reducing stresses on bridges and other structures as well as making masts easier to transport and install.

GRP masts can be manufactured in any colour and are also resistant to aggressive environmental influences, an advantage in locations such as the test site near Oostende where the proximity of the sea causes conventional hot-dip galvanised and zinc-coated steel masts to suffer corrosion damage.

'We are immensely proud of having developed a product which, potentially, could completely revolutionise the construction of catenary systems', said Powerlines CEO Gerhard Ehringer.