As part of the upgrade the line from Bedford via Kettering to Corby is currently being electrified to enable fast bi-mode trains with increased seating to operate on the network.
Bi-mode trains are quieter when operating under electric power and use less diesel fuel – benefitting passengers and people living close to the railway whilst helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In order to electrify the railway Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) will be installed alongside and above the existing track to provide power to trains. This consists of overhead wires and supporting steel masts that distribute electricity to trains at 25,000 volts.
The steel masts are spaced between 40-70 metres apart along the track and will carry the contact wire at a height of approximately 4.7 metres above track level – just a little taller than the trains themselves.
So, whilst electrification will bring important benefits, 25,000 volts is an enormous amount of power and why a vital part of our work involves communicating with people living and working along the railway to advise them of the potential risks.
Significant communications campaigns support the installation of electrified infrastructure, including radio, local newspaper and billboard/poster advertising. In addition, both residents and businesses within several kilometres of the line will receive leaflets containing important safety information.
Along the Midland Main Line we have also been delivering interactive safety workshops at local schools, which not only communicates our message in a memorable and engaging way but has generated content for a dramatic film we will be producing the further reinforce our message among teenagers.
Our workshop was fantastic! The workshop leaders engaged some of our most challenging students and inspired them to participate in a way that even our most experienced teaching staff struggle with. The students didn’t want the workshop to end and felt a real sense of pride that their ideas might contribute to a much bigger project and ultimately help get the message of rail safety out to other kids their age.
The workshops provided students with a real insight into the dangers of playing on the railway and particularly focused on the new overhead line equipment which is being installed locally.The workshops gave students an opportunity to express their opinions and personal views, as well as a chance to develop skills such as creativity, teamwork and the qualities required to present in front of people.
Safety is our top priority and these workshops have done a fantastic job at highlighting the very real dangers of playing on the railway. The workshops focus on electrical safety and importantly offered the students a chance to share their experiences and feed ideas into our new safety film we are producing, which needs to be authentic and communicate the dangers to this hard to reach audience.”
Electricity seeks the easiest path to the ground from wherever it starts. The human body is around 60% water so people are potentially very good conductors. If you come into contact with electrified overhead lines…
That there is no danger to anyone as long as people use the railway correctly and respect the railway boundary – a secure fence line that protects both people and the operational railway from deliberate or accidental trespass.
If you live or work alongside the railway near to electrified overhead lines be extremely careful when using equipment such as ladders and cranes – or any object that could encroach onto the railway and put you or others at risk.