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Safety Is Key For Rail Infrastructure Projects

Safety Is Key For Rail Infrastructure Projects

Tubular handrailing and guardrailing structures perform a variety of important safety tasks for transport users and maintenance teams in different rail infrastructure locations.

Handrails, guardrails and barriers are routinely fitted on one or both sides of a railway track; on parapets, bridges and other high risk areas; and, alongside access ramps, staircases and gradients in and around stations, and the wider rail network. These structures not only protect important trackside equipment and workers where there is a risk of a fall from height, they also assist with passenger guidance, and help secure safe, easy access for rail users and maintenance teams.

Safety Guardrails for Railway Industry - Recent Projects

Two recently completed projects demonstrate these versatility and safety benefits in practice.

Kee Safety has recently provided Transport for London (TfL) with a safety barrier solution which helps protect employees working at height on elevated viaduct and railway bridges on the East London Rail Line. Specified by Carillion, this impressive installation extends for a 4km length between Shoreditch Station and Dalston Station, taking into account many changes in direction.   

Meanwhile, a quite different application has taken place as part of the refurbishment of Staines railway station in Surrey. A new pedestrian handrail system was installed, using Kee Access components, helping to meet the requirements of the UK Equality Act (previously DDA).

The new system was fitted alongside a new access ramp at the entrance to ensure safe and easy access for all passengers using the station. Guardrails were finished in an orange colour, ensuring an attractive appearance whilst assisting the sight-impaired user. Installation of the safety guardrailing system was part of a renovation programme to improve access to the station, specified by railway engineering contractor, GRAMM Interlink Rail.

Safety was the foremost concern for both of these projects.  But other supporting factors also merit consideration, especially when the choice on a project may be between a fabricated or a tubular structure assembled using standard tube and fittings. Notably, ease and speed of installation, high corrosion resistance and adaptability should all figure and be assessed as part of the specification process.

Tubular Structures - Quick & Cost Effective Guardrail Solution

When it comes to ease and speed of installation, then guardrailing constructed using standard tubes and fittings is proven to be 20% less expensive than fabricated structures. 

Kee Safety has carried out a comparison study on a typical 16m structure – one assembled using standard tube and fittings from the Kee Safety range whilst the other was fabricated on site, connected using traditional welded joints.

The study shows that the Kee Safety structure provided a 41% saving in labour which contributed to an overall 20% cost reduction in assembly time. Working with a tube and fittings type solution also eliminates the hidden costs associated with fabrications, such as, the requirement for tailored fabrication drawings, extra site visits, transport and the cost of welding consumables.

Tubular Structures - Corrosion Resistance

An additional benefit of tubular structures is corrosion resistance.

The Zinc Millennium Map (1998-2000) details the background atmospheric corrosion rates of zinc across the UK and Ireland.  Given sufficient time, oxygen, and water, any iron mass eventually converts entirely to rust and disintegrates, and in marine atmospheres (category 3 environments) the Map shows that untreated steel will uniformly corrode at up to 170 microns each year.

Using information from the survey, and deeming the structure unsafe following local corrosion of 25%, we have identified that the average life of a structure using corrosion resistant hot dip galvanised fittings, such as the Kee Klamp® range of fittings, will be 37 years in a category 3 town, for example, Newcastle Upon Tyne. This compares to 4.7 years for a fabricated structure, featuring a uniform 3.2mm weld.

Kee Klamp® Guardrails

Kee Klamp components are available with a combination of protective coatings applied to achieve a longer life and a better corrosion resistance. This is vital for structures in areas which may be prone to a high level of weathering or rusting, and structures which are in difficult places to access and work on. 

Our comprehensive Kee Klamp® range allows pre-cut lengths of standard tubing (from 21.3mm to 60.3mm) to be quickly and easily connected together. The end result is a finished structure with uniform appearance which meets guaranteed design loads and British Standard requirements. 

All fittings within the range incorporate an integral socket screw which locks the fitting securely onto its tube. Not only does this method create a strong, stable and safe structure, it also eliminates the need for time-consuming welding or specialist skills.  The extensive range ensures that they can also cope easily with any changes in direction or gradient, and accommodate requirements for quickly adapting or extending an existing structure.

Optimum rail safety remains the key driver behind the specification of handrailing and guardrailing. However, providing a structure that is quicker and more cost-effective to assemble as well as being safer for longer will pay dividends. Ultimately, it will also be cheaper in the long run, especially for those designing structures in more testing environments, for example close to the sea.