UK: To support the roll-out of further Night Tube all-night services on the London Underground, Transport for London is seeking to engage with suppliers who could help to develop low-maintenance track. In particular, TfL is looking for an improved fastening for bullhead rail which would offer a maintenance interval of at least seven days.
TfL says its current bullhead track form has ‘a number of undesirable weaknesses in terms of its operational performance, predominant failure modes and consequent intrinsic risk’, which are currently mitigated by a relatively intrusive and costly inspection and maintenance regime. However ridership on Friday and Saturday nights has grown by 70% since 2000, and as a result access to the track is more becoming more limited. The continued roll-out of 24 h services means the current inspection regime would not be possible in the future.
The University of Huddersfield has studied failed components and undertaken in-track measurement of loads and stresses, providing data which will be used to inform the specifications for improved keys and chair fixings onto existing timber sleepers.
Suppliers have been invited to express interest in the project by October 14, ahead of a briefing event to be held on October 28. This would be followed with a market sounding questionnaire which will help inform TfL’s approach to procurement.