While new state-of-the-art rail systems are being installed around the world, existing infrastructure continues to age. A key requirement for the sector is to ensure that best use is made of these existing infrastructure assets. So it is no surprise that with ever-growing pressures for cost reductions, there is now a real focus on lowest cost through life risk-based asset management.
Members value TWI's experience and ability to assemble multi-disciplinary teams to help them with a range of different requirements, for example:
- Type testing of new designs of escalators to ensure they meet standards requirements and any special customer needs
- Life extension and repair of escalators
- An input to safety cases
- Modification to bridges to meet repair requirements or the need for strengthening to cope with higher loads.
Many structures still in use were installed in the late 19th and early 20th century using a range of ferrous materials such as wrought and cast iron, Bessemer steel and open hearth steel. Even steels supplied as recently as the 1950/60s can be of a variable quality.
Difficulties can arise when these metals are repaired or strengthened. Expertise and experience with these types of structure is a critical success factor to allow the rail sector to deliver projects to time and cost. On many occasions TWI has become involved in sorting out problems when inappropriate repair procedures have been attempted. Early discussion with TWI is recommended to save Members time and money by ensuring that the correct procedures are adopted at the outset.
Usually, work on old structures requires a good understanding of whether defects are present and, if so, how large they are. Such structures were often designed without any thought to the ease with which they might be non-destructively inspected. TWI has particular expertise in inspecting such structures and analysing the impact of any defects found. TWI experts in repair and structure modification will then develop procedures consistent with the objectives of low risk and low cost.
TWI's experience and expertise in risk-based asset management, gained in the energy sector over many years, is increasingly being sought by the rail sector as the benefits of the approach are fully appreciated. For example, TWI is working with a number of rail companies across Europe to develop improved solutions to reduce economic and environmental impacts of rail transport infrastructure.
Fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) materials are used increasingly by the rail sector in civil infrastructure applications, for both new build and repair. The growth in the use of composite materials for structural applications, either as the sole material component or for applications that involve concrete and metallic materials, has highlighted the need for more rigorous training and competence assurance in the installation and approval processes.
As a result, specifiers and end-users of the technology were keen to see the development of a certification scheme for the competency of personnel involved in this work. This need has now been met by CSWIP, working with the industry stakeholders, putting in place an international scheme which meets the needs of all the stakeholders in the sector. This scheme specifies the examination and certification of personnel (installers and supervisors) who are required to apply and inspect unidirectional fibre composite plates to strengthen existing concrete structures and in new build. For further information please see www.cswip.com.
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