UK: Infrastructure manager Network Rail has appointed Atkins to develop new rules for the design of overhead electrification equipment, with the aim of reducing the need for expensive bridge reconstruction and track lowering works.

Announcing the contract on August 5, the SNC-Lavalin group company said electrification was the only viable way to decarbonise core rail routes in support of the UK’s Net Zero 2050 emissions targets. However rebuilding bridges at a cost up to £1m each could account for a third of the total cost for an electrification scheme.

During the 10-month project Atkins will use digital image correlation technology to analyse the dynamic relationship between the uplift of the contact wire, the type of overhead electrification and pantographs being used, and train speeds.

Data will be collected by the consultancy’s Digital Image Correlation team, which specialises in non-contact measurements in an operational rail environment and has experience of measuring structural deflections to an accuracy of 0·05 mm.

Atkins will then develop rules enabling smaller values of uplift to be used, potentially reducing the capital costs of electrification by eliminating the need for bridges to rebuilt.

‘These rules of design should, where technically achievable, cover as many types of Network Rail OLE as is reasonably practicable; be based on robust and documented evidence; and strike a balance between conservatism and complexity’, said Malabika Das, Atkins’ Project Manager, Strategic Rail.