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Sunday, July 21, 2024

A year in the life of the May Gurney signalling team

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The rail signalling team at May Gurney had a busy and successful 2010 with a number of projects either completed or in progress; and others are just starting out. The year ended with no one seriously hurt and only two minor injuries. Whilst that left the company short of achieving its zero tolerance commitment, the trend continues to move in the right direction.

In 2011, health and safety will continue to be the company’s focus together with other deliverables including an intrinsic sustainability drive which will be embedded in everything it does. And of course it will do this within a changing and challenging customer base where cost reduction is a key requirement.

Signalling team membership has seen a subtle growth over the year and that bodes well for the coming year’s spread of contracted and potential works. There is an emphasis on retaining the ‘solid’ team behind that performance and ensuring that their views are properly heard.

Winter warmers

So what of the works delivered over the course of that ‘successful year’? It was certainly a mixed bag and one that prompted much discussion about the challenges faced across the team’s various disciplines, as well as internal and external interactions with the client.

Early January saw finalisation of May Gurney’s second GRIP 5-8 CCTV level crossing scheme which required design, install and test to introduce new digital cameras, flat-screen monitors at the controlling signal boxes and migration of the camera communication signal from coax to newly-run or existing fibre optic cabling.

A few weeks later saw commissioning of the final stage of its Ely-Peterborough schemes which saw replacement of time-served Aster-style track circuits with new TI21 systems. New lineside locations, a DNO supply point and insulated block joint renewals – all taking place against a backdrop of the year’s first snow – made for a picturesque scene. Thank goodness for warm PPE!

During this period the company was also grafting behind the scenes on GRIP 4 feasibility works for a scheme which had worksites at King’s Lynn and Kennett. Featured in November 2010’s issue of the rail engineer, the King’s Lynn element blossomed into a contracted G5-8 project which was completed successfully. But the Kennett element went so far before being overtaken by a greater need which resulted in a recently awarded and much larger G5-8 implementation scheme to introduce a new ten-signal intermediate block section between Bury St Edmunds and Chippenham.

Work on a level crossing barrier base

Summer time

May Gurney’s East Anglia Minor Works G5-8 scheme design involved a number of discrete packages, delivering new LED banner repeater units complete with platform arrangements and ladders across the Anglia patch. One addressed an anomaly in the Norwich interlocking – this was accompanied by a few head-scratching moments – whilst another introduced new air conditioning units in a number of REBs (brickwork rather than SMTH), with the final objective to swap out oil lamps for new LED versions in the North London area.

June saw the company complete a short G3 optioneering study and launch into the single option G4 feasibility for another scheme in North London. The proposal for it had arisen from a remit to find a solution to a wire-degraded REB and had expanded to include potential for the abolition of two signal boxes, a new overall Route Relay Interlocking, upgrade of a MCB level crossing to CCTV and the replacement of a panel in a third box with a VDU control system.

By July, May Gurney was in consultation with Lincolnshire County Council – its Highways sector being the council’s framework contractor – to assist them with a major road improvement scheme at Boston. The role was to provide assistance through the finalisation of the G4 stage and to deliver the G6-8 deliverables to upgrade and realign the two affected level crossings. With design by others, this scheme will reach its planned commissionings within a very few weeks.

Out and about

Not everything flowed smoothly though. One case in point was the G1-8 scheme to introduce electronic treadles at 19 level crossings in East Anglia. Unfortunately the scheme had faltered due to concerns over the product and May Gurney assisted both the manufacturer and client teams with works at trial sites to help boost confidence and reliance. This process has taken time but thankfully the scheme is now back on track, with the company designing and installing for delivery later this year.

August saw engineers out and about in Surrey and Hampshire – gathering data, correlating sites and undertaking an asset review to help define the scope of a scheme to upgrade the FDM system between Petersfield and Farncombe. One of the outcomes is being found more and more across feasibility schemes – the status and condition of the E&P asset and the subsequent impact this is having on the original proposal. Changes to standards over the past 18 months – with a move to ensuring both workforce safety and system protection – has seen an increasing rise in E&P workload in the delivery of signalling orientated schemes.

September through to early November brought successful delivery of the King’s Lynn commissioning packages as well as successful tendering for the G4 East Suffolk resignalling scheme. This is time-critical in so far as the signal frequency for the current RETB system is handed back to the government in January 2013. A new signalling system has to be developed, designed, installed, tested and commissioned by that date. The company is pleased to be involved in this as it takes many members of the team back to the Anglia region where they started their railway careers many moons ago.

October also saw May Gurney finally installed in its new Bury St Edmunds office – a move which means they’re here to stay. They hope their new base brings with it another successful year.


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