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Switch design could reduce rail service disruption

28 October 2016

Repoint is a patented ultra-high availability/maintainability track switch that could help support increased levels of day-to-day rail traffic across the network.

Repoint (Credit: Loughborough University)

The design introduces the concept of using several actuators to operate the same points, meaning that in the event of a single failure the remaining actuators continue to function safely. With this additional redundancy built into each machine, rail traffic can still pass and remedial maintenance can be scheduled without causing immediate disruption to services.

Repoint also uses a ‘lift, hop and drop’ mechanism, a method that eliminates the friction experienced by the slide chairs used in traditional point machines. It is also much faster to operate: Repoint can move a switch in under half a second, compared to four seconds for conventional designs – an improvement that can help support increased network capacity. 

The first full-scale Repoint will be integrated with London Underground infrastructure in early 2018.

Innovative response to set challenge of increasing network capacity

The development of Repoint originates from a request by the industry’s independent body RSSB, to explore ways to increase network capacity. Following discussions with industry stakeholders, the limitations of switch machines, and the extent of disruption caused by a single failure, was seen by Loughborough University as an area that could benefit from a fresh approach. The UK has over 20,000 switch and crossing units and, despite representing only 5 percent of network mileage, they account for over 15 percent of the track maintenance budget.

Ricardo Rail has assembled a consortium including Progress Rail, DEG Signal and MPEC Technology and will now assist with the next stage of design, build and trial of a Repoint switch.  

The contract is the result of an invitation to provide industrial development assistance publicised for official tender (OJEU) in June 2016.


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