12 January 2021
As part of the Department for Transport’s Intercity Express Programme (IEP) initiative across the East Coast Main Line (and Great Western Main Line) the new fleet of Azuma ‘bullet’ electro-diesel and all-electric trainsets, required modifications to be made to the existing ‘High‑Speed Train’ (HST) electrical infrastructure for connection integration and operation.
Quartzelec, a leading independent engineering service provider with an ever-extending global reach, working with Story Contracting, which had oversight of the civil aspects of the project, secured the contract for the necessary electrical modification works to enable these new IEP Trains to be connected.
The most recent elements of the project were centred on Inverness Station and the Aberdeen Clayhills Depot. This included delivering sidings operations and the installation of new HST to IEP electrical changeover systems along with installation cabling, IEP line side pillars, plus new IEP train plug connections. Additionally, some track signalling changes were required at Inverness to meet initial performance requirements and track bonding works delivered to ensure trains were adequately earthed while stabled.
“This was an important and prestigious contract for Quartzelec and again demonstrates our core strengths in supporting the rail industry,” stated Chris Rose, Quartzelec’s Business Unit Manager at its Hamilton office. “Amalgamating any new equipment into an existing network of diverse systems is always challenging but the work also had to be completed to exacting requirements and to extremely tight schedules.”
Eddie Cheung from Story Contracting added: “The new trains are an important expansion of the rail network both to and within Scotland. In order to ensure the new Azuma rolling stock operates safely and consistently, significant changes were needed to upgrade the infrastructure. Quartzelec was brought on board due to its extensive expertise and knowledge of key rail infrastructure electrical systems plus it had the experienced and accredited engineering manpower needed to ensure the project was delivered on time and we’ve been delighted with their performance.”
The introduction of the Azuma trains
The new Azuma trains are operating on various routes: including London to Leeds, York to Newcastle and Edinburgh along with connections through Lincoln, Stevenage, Skipton, Haymarket, Motherwell and Glasgow and with the completion of the recent package of works Azuma trains can now reach additional Scottish destinations and further rollout dates will be announced over coming months.
The entire fleet of 65 new trains are being delivered through to mid-2020, allowing the phased withdrawal of the ex-British Rail IC125 diesel and IC225 electric push-pull fleets. Six of the 200 km/h diesel trainsets are also expected to be retained for a few months, despite them not being PRM compliant, as planned remodelling work at London King’s Cross will require the use of other terminal stations in London which currently cannot handle the Azuma trains.