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National Rail Awards 2018: INNOVATION OF THE YEAR: Winner: Network Rail, UK Power Networks, ABB & Siemens – Rationalised Autotransformer System Automation

This is an innovation that involved the implementation of a wide-area IEC 61850-compliant communications protection scheme on the Great Western Electrification Programme between Maidenhead and Didcot. It involves the use of load break switches, instead of more expensive and circuit breakers at non-sectioning distribution substation sites.

In a nutshell, the significant benefits to this new way of working are:

  • A reduction in costs, because there is a reduced need for lineside substations and cabling (estimated to save about £1 million per 10km).
  • A major improvement in the time it takes to clear faults, thereby reducing equipment damage and traffic interruption.

Judges said: “We were blown away by the description of what this innovation has achieved. It appears to be a world first in the electricity industry. It represents a big step change in design and standards, offering numerous future benefits, including cost reduction, construction timescale reduction, less maintenance, more reliability and less damage through faults.”

  • For FULL coverage of the National Rail Awards, read RAIL 862, published on September 26, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle on September 22.

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