WORK is due to start in early May on a programme of track renewals covering around 100 km of the ProRail network. The contract was awarded to the contractor Spitzke Spoorbouw BV, a subsidiary of the German Spitzke group.

The work forms part of the Nefit Noordoost programme to renew sleepers and clean ballast. The first section to be treated will be the Hengelo - Enschede line, followed by the Hengelo - Oldenzaal, Meppel - Leeuwarden and Winterswijle - Zevenaar lines. Nefit Noordoost also includes 7 km of formation renewal using on-track machinery, the first time that this technique has been used in the Netherlands. Most work is due for completion by the end of 2005.

A second Nefit contract running concurrently covers sites in Zuid Gelderland, with 30 km of track renewal and ballast cleaning, plus 1·5 km of formation replacement. Possessions for this work start this month on the Kesteren - Elst line, followed by Nijmegen - Ravenstein and Barneveld - Ede. Completion is scheduled for spring 2006 at the latest. Apart from the Nefit programme, Spitzke Spoorbouw will renew 14 km of track between s-Hertogenbosch and Nijmegen, starting in June.

During March Spitzke began renewal of 7·5 km of track near Utrecht and 7 km on the Heerenveen - Akkrum line. The same contract covers replacement of 23 sets of points at Zaandam.

ProRail launched the Nefit programme five years ago to raise track standards on key parts of its 2811 route-km network. ProRail manages around 6500 track-km that carry 5100 passenger and 230 freight trains a day, and the objective is to replace wooden sleepers by Type NS90 standard concrete sleepers, with ballast cleaned or replaced at the same time.

Short possession times demand the use of high-output machines. For example, a UM-S2001 track renewal train, a RM900S ballast cleaner matched with a rake of MFS40 wagons, plus an 09-32 CSM tamper and ballast plough relaid 6000m of track on the Hengelo - Zutphen line in five days in May 2004.

The UM-S2001 can handle all standard concrete, wooden and steel sleepers. With cut-in and cut-out times of 45min or less, it is designed to work at more than 250m/h; it can relay curves down to a radius of 250m and can replicate the alignment of the old track.

Developed jointly by Spitzke and Plasser & Theurer, the RM900S is a versatile high-performance ballast cleaning machine integrated with an 09-32 CSM tamper. It can clean ballast at the rate of 1000m??/h in one operation, working at the rate of 300 to 390m/h with laser control of the depth of ballast.

CAPTION: The UM-S2001 can replace up to 300 m of track per hour