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ABB and consortium partner win $145 million order to upgrade UK rail network

ABB and consortium partner win $145 million order to upgrade UK rail network

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, and its consortium partner UK Power Networks (UKPN) Services have been awarded a contract worth around $145 million by Network Rail to upgrade one of Britain’s oldest and busiest railways, providing better connections between major towns and cities across southern England and Wales. The contract is evenly split between the consortium partners, reflecting the work scope.

The consortium, will be responsible for the turnkey delivery of more than 30 new traction substations. The contract represents the first sizable new electrification project to be undertaken by Network Rail in over 30 years and forms a key part of the Great Western Electrification Programme (GWEP).The expansion and upgrade will result in more reliable services for passengers and reduce noise emissions affecting communities located close to railway lines. It will also result in increased train frequency and help boost passenger capacity, to support economic growth across the region.

ABB Great Western Electrification Programme
“These substations will provide additional supply of quality power and facilitate the expansion and upgrade of this important rail network that will benefit passengers and the community at large” said Claudio Facchin, Head of ABB’s Power Systems division. “ABB has leading technologies and a strong track record of providing innovative solutions for the rail sector across the world.”

The GWEP substations will be based on ABB’s unique modular Structure Mounted Outdoor Switchgear (SMOS) Light concept, which is designed to help railway infrastructure owners reduce the time required for construction, testing and commissioning by as much as 30 per cent. The substation will deploy ABB’s state-of-the-art eco-efficient power distribution switchgear, supporting Network Rail’s policy of reducing its environmental impact.

The turnkey substation solution also incorporates ABB’s advanced protection and control concept, which was developed to suit Network Rail’s own Rationalised Autotransformer Scheme (RATS). This highly sophisticated method of deploying the global IEC 61850 open communications standard helps achieve a cost-efficient substation solution. The protection and control cubicles and accessories will be installed in a portable, containerised Auxiliary Equipment Enclosure (AEE) that is fully factory-assembled and -tested, constituting a near plug-and play solution. The first substation is scheduled for commissioning in 2015 and the project is expected to be completed in 2017.


Urbanisation, economic growth and environmental concerns in emerging markets are some of the key trends supporting the expansion of rail networks in many parts of the world. ABB has a wide range of power and automation products and solutions for urban, conventional and high-speed rail applications and has built up an extensive global installed base.This includes alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) traction substations and railway electrification solutions for mainline trains, metros and mass-transit networks.