The rising interest in use of composite products in rail has led Composites UK to join forces with the Rail Alliance to help companies understand these new materials and how they can be used to solve industry challenges. Key properties of composites that are helping solve these challenges are their strength to weight ratio, durability and longevity.
Composites’ high strength to weight ratio means that smaller items like trench covers can be moved manually instead of requiring lifting equipment, larger items like train doors can operate faster and more efficiently, while even larger items like bridges can be built using less material reducing costs. Their durability means they perform year after year in all weather conditions and can withstand exposure to corrosive materials like salt and fuel. Their longevity means they last longer than traditional materials, reducing disruption which is especially important for products like sleepers. Finally, composite products can be custom manufactured to suit the application, instead of building on site, which enables fast installation, allowing products like FRP bridges to be installed overnight.
As part of the £70 million development of Doncaster’s new Hitachi depot, Fibrelite designed and manufactured 100 m of custom GRP composite trench covers to fit piping apertures, providing protection from potential heavy vehicle traffic (up to D400/40 tonnes) while allowing safe easy manual access for monitoring and maintenance.
Originally, concrete recess covers had been fitted on Oldham’s Metrolink platform over underground utilities. Due to their weight, these were difficult to remove and replace, requiring specified lifting equipment and causing potential manual handling risks. Fibrelite designed and manufactured bespoke composite trench covers to fit directly into the existing apertures, allowing easy, safe (authorised) manual removal and providing a safe walking surface.