GREAT WESTERN MAIN LINE
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It’s two o’clock in the morning. And it’s pouring with rain. A team of 30 men are getting Network Rail’s remarkable new train up to full speed, driving in piles for new gantries west of Didcot.
“Without this equipment there is no way we could get to Bristol by 2016,” says Neil Johnson, project director for Amey, which is operating the high output electrification train.
“Love it. Absolutely love it,” enthuses Martin Gallacher, programme manager for Network Rail. “We’ve come through the testing and commissioning phase. We’re moving now into production, and it’s all systems go.”
The train is grandly called Brunel, having been named by Her Majesty the Queen during her visit to re-open Reading station in July. Officially, it is the High Output Plant System, or HOPS. But ‘Factory Train’ seems more user-friendly than the Network Rail jargon.
This is a train that carries everything it needs for a night’s work. The 23 vehicles divide into five units that can excavate, mix and pour concrete, hammer in piles, erect overhead gantries and install wires, then test and commission the complete system.
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