The sale of EDF Energy’s networks business to the Cheung Kong Group (CKG), completed on 1st November, has brought a new name to the rail industry – UK Power Networks Services. But it’s been business as usual for the company’s expert and experienced staff who have been working with customers and stakeholders to ensure a seamless transition and operational continuity.
CKG is a global infrastructure company with diversified investments in transportation, energy and water infrastructure-related businesses. Operating in Hong Kong, mainland China, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Philippines, it is a leading player in the global infrastructure arena. With a proven pedigree in running high-quality utility companies, CKG has a track record of wise investment and long-term plans. Already it successfully operates electricity distribution businesses serving communities in Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
And it has a significant UK presence too. Businesses in which CKG has invested, such as Northern Gas Networks and Cambridge Water, have won awards and recognition from their regulators for setting industry-leading standards.
Jean Noel Reimeringer is Director of UK Power Networks Services. He insists that “We will continue our long history of playing a leading role in the development and management of safe, efficient and effective energy infrastructure to the railways in the UK. Our priority will be to listen to our customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. We’ll also continue to develop our technical and delivery expertise and, through commitment to our people, deliver excellence in every aspect of our relationship, from operations to service and beyond. Looking ahead, we will be channelling our efforts on focussed growth for UK Power Networks Services, building on our expertise to continue to provide an excellent service to the rail industry.”
A busy weekend
Just hours after the new company came into existence, staff working for UK Power Networks Services completed three major construction projects. As part of its HV (high voltage) rail work, specialist engineering teams delivered four transformer units and brought online one substation at three separate sites in one weekend – a remarkable achievement for any electrical contractor.
In Farnborough, an old railway substation on Sturt Lane was converted to an AC modular substation, bringing online two feeders, a grid feeder, a rectifier transformer unit and four auxiliary transformers. At the same time, a rail crane and 220-tonne road crane was being used to lift two transformers across three tracks close to Queen’s Road in Battersea, before being installed. Meanwhile in Chislehurst, a third team was delivering two more transformer units with another rail crane along 150 metres of track at one of Kent’s busiest rail junctions.
“It was a challenge to complete such a huge amount of work in so short a space of time because of the timetable restrictions” recalls section manager Lee Ramsay. “But we are very proud to have carried out the work from both a time perspective and under our new company name of UK Power Networks Services.”
More to come
And the company is gearing up for more challenges within the industry. Staff are preparing for the second phase of electric cable diversions on Blackfriars Bridge in London as part of the Thameslink Programme upgrade. Both HV and LV (low voltage) cables will be moved from the west side of the bridge to its east side, allowing a civil contractor to start work in the area.
Meanwhile the design stage has been completed for a substation refurbishment in Southwark. Plans now include an extensive steel gantry around the area which enables cables to be routed to various points on the line, through arches, across a public road and a light industrial estate. The structure will create easier access for any future work that may be needed.
Two transformers are soon to be replaced in Snow Hill Tunnel near Farringdon. These will be housed within stainless steel housings, guaranteeing a minimum 25-year lifespan whilst fully meeting the stringent safety requirements for placing this type of equipment in tunnels. With the housing now finished, the electrical equipment is being installed and the company is waiting for delivery of the transformers. This work is due for completion in the New Year.
Meanwhile a new substation is needed at Gatwick, with the old one being decommissioned and removed. Design for the project is almost finalised and physical works are on schedule to begin early in 2011.
All this comes after a highly successful association with the Thameslink Programme. Last year, the Ludgate Cellars substation – constructed on a narrow, challenging site – was brought into service. And it has operated trouble-free for the past year. New software has been implemented to enhance the graphics and alarms back to the Lewisham electrical control centre.
At Cannon Street, another new substation was completed ten weeks ahead of schedule. All the equipment has been tested and will be ready for operation when Network Rail completes some associated works.
All this positive energy was recognised at the National Rail Awards where the Network Rail and EDF Energy Infrastructure Services’ Thameslink team was a finalist in the ‘Project of the Year’ category. They were highly commended. Adrian Dixon, Director of Rail, commented “This is what working together with the client can achieve.”