HomeDepotWhen the trains get longer the hose won't reach!

When the trains get longer the hose won’t reach!

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The new Hitachi Class 800 trains, due to be introduced on the East Coast route, can be quite long. They come in a variety of lengths, of course, but ten coaches are what is planned. They will be able to operate using electric traction under the wires – where they exist – and under diesel power over the routes to Aberdeen and Inverness – where they do not.

Progressively introduced from the end of this year, they will replace the existing eight-coach HST sets which have plied their way up and down from the North to London for over 40 years.


What of the preparations for the new trains? As is always the way, there are changes to the infrastructure that have to be made. Most of these are out of sight of the general public and involve what happens to the trains after they have done their daily duties of carrying passengers.

It’s where the trains go to be fed and watered that the real work starts. Facilities have to be built to maintain and clean the units, but this article looks specifically at the vital task of making sure that there is sufficient fuel on board for the journey and that the inevitable bodily waste products of several hundred passengers are removed in an orderly fashion.

Scottish depots

In Scotland, there are three depots that will look after the Class 800s. There’s the Aberdeen depot, which is run by Virgin Trains East Coast, and the Inverness depot run by Scotrail. Both of these have looked after the existing HST fleet and so both need to be altered to accommodate the Class 800s.

A further complication is that the depot alterations at Aberdeen and Inverness also need to accommodate new Caledonian sleeper coaches and refurbished ScotRail HSTs as reported elsewhere in the magazine.

In addition Craigentinny, currently a Virgin Trains East Coast depot, will transfer over to Hitachi once the first trains are ready to run.

Story Contracting, which has extensive knowledge and expertise in delivering complex depot facilities, have been awarded a contract worth just over £4 million by the Network Rail enhancements team for the extension of refuelling and controlled emission toilet facilities (CET) at Aberdeen and Inverness along with installations able to administer the Adblue® SCR system. Refuelling is a straightforward concept, which shouldn’t need much explanation. If the trains are longer, then the pumps, hoses and shelters need to be extended.

The CETs fitted to trains these days are a change from the days of scattering unmentionables into the atmosphere – something that no longer appears to be acceptable.

Selective catalytic reduction

Adblue® and SCR may need some explanation especially if you have only ever owned a petrol car.

AdBlue® is a non-toxic liquid that is colourless in appearance and is a solution of water and urea. To comply with Euro 6 emissions regulations, recent diesel-powered cars use SCR (selective catalytic reduction) technology to inject microscopic quantities of this liquid into the flow of exhaust gases. When the urea and water solution combines with exhaust emissions, it produces nitrogen and oxygen by breaking down mono-nitrogen oxides – gases that can be harmful and are found particularly in the fumes from diesel exhausts. This technique has been found to be an extremely effective way of bringing diesel engines up to the standard required to meet Euro 6.

The new Class 800s will use this SCR system and so, along with refuelling and CET disposal, facilities are required for dealing with the AdBlue®.

Aberdeen depot

Work is currently under way at Aberdeen where the working restraints are relatively benign.

Alan Rundell is Story’s project manager and looks after both the Aberdeen and Inverness projects. “Most of the Aberdeen servicing and refuelling takes place in the evening,” he stated. “All maintenance work on the units is carried out in the shed during the day, which means we have all day Monday to Friday to work – that is with the exception of the one sleeper train. We stand down for an hour to let it pass through the depot, to get it refuelled and then into the stabling area.”

Work involves extending the fuelling apron, providing a new cantilevered canopy for the length of the new trains and providing new fuelling points and pumps, new CET pumps, a new AdBlue plant room and all the associated pipework.

All this is provided in the existing layout of Aberdeen depot with the new canopy on an island between the fuelling line and the CET bypass line.

Even with the new work in progress, everything has to work with the existing trains and their requirements. The tactic is to install all the new add-ons and then, when they are complete, commission everything and transfer over to the new systems.


Aberdeen may seem straightforward. How did Story know how to work within the confines of a depot environment? The company is not new to depot work and cites its recent project in Craigentinny depot in Edinburgh. Here the work was relatively basic, but the staging was much more complicated.

Effectively Story, working under its RCDP Framework for Network Rail, were replacing the existing high-level sodium lighting with more efficient LED equivalents. Better light levels were achieved without having to change lighting controls, wire runs or power supplies. The design was by SVM Glasgow with the work on site by AFM Electrical, all managed by Story in a contract worth around £275,000.

Craigentinny (pictured) has featured in several past editions of this magazine and readers have been well briefed that this depot is an intense operation.

“We sat down with depot staff on a daily basis to discuss their access requirements. A back-shift arrangement gave us the best opportunity for access and offered the least amount of disruption to the depot. Possessions and isolations of the OLE were required, adding another layer of complexity to the planning.”

Inverness depot

With this experience, Story has been able to plan the equally complex works at Inverness depot, where the pattern of train movements differ completely from those in Aberdeen.

Between six and eight trains have to be refuelled during the day, along with all those on other shifts. This means that working on the refuelling road is not an option without some form of alternative facility being available – a temporary fuelling line complete with concrete apron and all the rest of the paraphernalia. Using the existing Harbour line, and after some permanent way alterations, this will be commissioned to allow work on the current fuel road.

There is a further complication with the introduction of the new trains. They will block an existing level crossing within the depot during the fuelling operations and Story has designed a new pedestrian crossing at the other end of the depot which will have a white light indication. This is just one part of the signalling involvement being resolved by A M Rail in conjunction with Siemens.

Buried nasties

There has been a depot at Inverness since the early days of the railway and throughout that time plenty of ‘nasty substances’ will have been dripped onto the ground. Part of the design will involve the analysis of soil samples to determine the level of contamination.

As a matter of strategy, the new drainage system associated with the refuelling line works will involve building-in extra capacity so as to give the oil separators a chance during extreme weather.

Aberdeen has to be finished by the end of September and Inverness by the middle of October. The Hitachi class 800 trains are due to start running in Scotland at the end of October. Alan and his team have these dates well and truly in their sights.

Extra-long hoses are not an option!

Written by Grahame Taylor

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