Gospel Oak-Barking was one of London’s forgotten railways, neglected and unreliable. Its trains were among the oldest on the network and were often lightly used as a consequence. Its unstaffed stations also made it a route to be avoided, given a choice.

The electrification of this line, as part of the £2 billion National Electrification Programme to electrify more than two thousand miles of Britain’s railway up to 2020, will see new Class 710 four-car electric trains, able to carry double the number of passengers and so relieving overcrowding, entering service in 2018. It is a complex undertaking, and involves extensive re-modelling of track and bridges to unlock vital space needed for new electrical infrastructure.

The electrification system adopted is a classic 25kV AC classic boosterless. RJ Power Group is working closely with Amey-Inabensa – the 50/50 joint venture which is delivering Network Rail’s electrification requirements in the Southern region.

This success comes just six months after RJ Power Group Limited restructured, adding a power networks contracting division to its business and undergoing a rebrand to reflect its greater offering and continuing drive to employ innovation on a range of projects to improve rail travel in London and the South of England.

RJ Power Group’s scope of electromechanical work on the Gospel Oak to Barking contract includes 25kV traction power supplies, ancillary equipment and LV power supplies, substation bonding and pre-commissioning of all HV and LV supplies. It also takes in the installation of 25kV cabling and terminations, busbar and jumper installations, earth connections and bonding, DNO power supplies and control wiring and connections.

Up to now, RJ Power Group has built up a trusted reputation for electrical engineering, working chiefly in 750V DC. This latest project for Network Rail and Amey-Inabensa sees the group working with 25kV AC for the first time. This project will raise RJ Power Group’s profile as a contractor with the expertise and resources to deliver works on a much larger scale, with a greater breadth of expertise and experience.

Collaboration on Crossrail

The largest railway project in the London area is, naturally, Crossrail. A number of contractors are working together to deliver one of the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK, with contracts totalling several billion pounds.

RJ Power Group secured a significant contract for signalling and power supplies (stages 3-7) as part of a £50 million scheme at Ilford Depot. The group is collaborating with VolkerFitzpatrick to create ten new sidings and a new building for train drivers and other rail staff.

The two organisations have worked together successfully before, collaborating to deliver a time-challenged major rail project at Three Bridges Depot – resulting in the VolkerWessels Group Platinum Award for Project of the Year.

Enabling works for Ilford Depot began in July as the team began work with VolkerFitzpatrick to complete electrical enabling works in preparation for the main improvement works. These included the installation of temporary LV supplies to depot support buildings, including the yard controller’s office and mess rooms, as well as cable pulling, installation, termination and testing.

The main works have now commenced with RJ Power Group supplying and installing the distribution substations with an interface to the DNO provider, including connecting the services from both substations to the distribution cubicles, the points heating cubicles, the PSP and two separate buildings to create power within the new sidings. Also part of the E&P works is the provision of the supply and installation of the 650V signalling power supplies to support the changes within the Depot.

Significant evolution

The restructure and rebrand of RJ Power Group in March 2016 was effectively the start of a new era for the company. Significant evolution has taken place over the course of the year, with a number of key appointments in the team.

The addition of operations manager Owen Marsh back in the summer has seen the development of a number of new strategic opportunities for the group, and new business development director Mike Wakeford has also been pivotal in allowing the group to pursue its ambitions for expansion.

Simon White was appointed in September as the Group’s new rail testing and commissioning manager, helping to further consolidate the company’s growth and success over recent months. The most recent addition to the rail team is Andy Gore, who is the new senior construction manager.

With the successful implementation of a graduate programme to secure a skilled workforce for the future, RJ Power Group is gradually fulfilling its aim to be Network Rail’s contractor of choice for power and electrification projects in the south of the UK. However, as managing director Glenn Rowatt explains, the company’s ambitions don’t end there: “This year has seen RJ Power Group move into new spheres of work with great success, and our workforce continues to grow to meet our expanding schedule. The current project on the Gospel Oak to Barking line illustrates how we are diversifying.

Of course, we will continue with our core provision of traction power works. But as a company, we are now a proven quantity in 25kV, fully skilled and resourced to work with Network Rail in delivering its plans to electrify lines across London and the South East. The result will be a faster, cleaner, more efficient rail network capable of carrying far greater numbers of passengers in comfort. We are proud to be part of this.”