ACTOM Signalling recently completed a R75-million signalling upgrade contract for Transnet Freight Rail in the vicinity of Pietermaritzburg on the main line between Johannesburg and Durban, in which vandalism prevention was a primary focus.
The contract, commenced in early-2009 and completed in September 2011, formed part of the upgrade of the Natal Corridor, one of the key transport corridors that Transnet Freight Rail is developing to improve the throughput of freight traffic around the country.
The contract covered a distance of 38 km, incorporating a total of six stations between, and including, Cato Ridge and Pietermaritzburg. It comprised:
• Replacing all signalling cables.
• Installing cable terminations in new apparatus units.
• Replacing all track circuits with axle counters between stations and in station areas, including installing the axle-counter inside equipment in dust proof ventilated cabinets.
• Replacing the existing S1 remote control systems in each station with CS90 rack mount units.
• Installing failsafe data transmission (FSDT).
• Modifying the block units to maintain compatibility with the FSDT equipment.
“A major element of the contract was to protect the signalling equipment and cabling that we installed from the risk of being vandalised, as this section of the line passes through the highly populated urban area in and near Pietermaritzburg” commented Gerrie Coetzer, ACTOM Signalling’s Contracts Manager.
In spite of the relatively short total distance involved, the execution of the contract was complicated by the fact that much of the ground in which the trenching had to be done was rocky. “It is mountainous terrain and the line also crosses rivers a number of times, so it included five bridges and five tunnels – the longest tunnel being 1,7 km long. Where the normal trenching depth could not be achieved due to the rocky conditions we protected the cables by covering them with wire mesh and concrete. In the tunnels we laid the cable in concrete troughs that were covered by concrete,” Coetzer said.
“A further complication that made this contract challenging for us is that being such a busy line there was no question of halting traffic, so we had to do every occupation between trains. A flagman had to be on hand to warn our crews to move away from the line whenever a train came into view.
“The cable was made more vandal-proof by being placed 800 mm deep and covered with concrete slabs. We also replaced all the old standard apparatus cases with precast concrete vandal-proof apparatus cases and in replacing the track circuits we put axle-counters in cubicles instead of on open racks,” he explained.
“In addition, the trackside electronics are protected from vandalism by being put in concrete silos with a lockable lid and the axle-counting head that bolts to the rail is encased in a glass-reinforced protective cover mounted with anti-vandalism bolts.”
Dave Kisch, Transnet Capital Projects’ Project Manager, Rail Signals Durban, commented: “This Project ran relatively smoothly and ACTOM are to be congratulated on having an exceptionally good safety record of almost a quarter of a million lost time incident-free hours.”
ACTOM (Pty) Ltd is the largest manufacturer and distributor of electrical equipment in South Africa, employing about 6 000 people and with an annual order intake in excess of R5bn. It is a black empowered company with 33 operating units, 27 production facilities and 28 distribution centres throughout South Africa.
ACTOM partners Alstom France for environmental equipment and in serving the maintenance, upgrade and retrofit market for larger boilers, as well as for railway transport activities.
ACTOM holds exclusive distribution, technology and representation rights for Alstom Grid (formerly the Transmission business of Areva T&D) in Southern Africa and maintains management, technical and commercial links to Alstom Grid business units in Europe.
Following the acquisition by Schneider Electric of the global Distribution business of Areva T&D, the distribution, technology and representation agreements that existed between ACTOM and Areva will remain in place until such time as a new agreement has been concluded.
ACTOM formerly traded under the name Alstom South Africa and re-branded to ACTOM in September 2009.
For further information contact Peter Colborne, ACTOM Signalling
PO Box 4583, Germiston South 1411
Tel (011) 871-6600 Fax (011) 871-6868
Press release compiled by Julian Kraft, J Kraft Public Relations
PO Box 2826 Wilropark 1731
Tel (011) 472-6686 Fax 086-613-9657
Date: December 30, 2011
Caption: Cable laying from truck – Many parts of the line were inaccessible by motor vehicle, necessitating labour-intensive cable-laying methods, but in some sections, as in the above case, the cable could be fed directly from a truck parked alongside the trench.