Drax is the largest power station and the biggest single site renewable generator in the UK. Drax is also the largest decarbonisation project in Europe. An average of 20 freight trains a day deliver the biomass and coal needed to keep the lights on for around six million homes.
Around 14 million tonnes pass over the rail site each year. As part of renewing rails on the heavily used site a potential problem was noted. In an area where a road/rail crossing was to be replaced, significant corrosion damage to the rail beneath the crossing deck was found. The crossing is needed to allow road access to parts of the site, so a solution had to be found to prevent future rail corrosion.
Drax engineer Andrew Brade asked for advice from Lindsey in our Rail Technologies team to suggest a solution to this potentially troublesome track. Road crossing panels can trap dirt, debris and road de-icing salts in a damp environment around the rail causing excessive corrosion which can limit the useful life of the rail.
Excessive rail corrosion revealed beneath the rail road crossing
Lindsey had no hesitation in recommending Zinoco® as the best option to protect against corrosion in this heavily trafficked freight environment. Zinoco was designed specifically to protect rails from corrosion. You can find out more about Zinoco here
Within hours the new corrosion protected rails were on their way to site ready for installation
The crossing and rails were replaced by Trackwork as part of renewal works and the photos below show it before, during and after replacement.
Crossing before renewal - rail corrosion beneath hidden from view
Trackwork renewing the crossing and utilising Zinoco corrosion protected rails
The finished road crossing
The rail/road crossing is now fit for a life of service for both rail and road vehicles with the rails beneath protected from rail corrosion for longer life with less maintenance. You can find out more about the history of rail at Drax here, and their special fleet of biomass freight vehicles here
Drax has also also worked with British Steel to upgrade its freight tracks from standard R260 grade rails to HP335 rails to assess and improve the rail performance under the arduous heavy-haul conditions experienced moving huge volumes of Biomass material to decarbonise power production. A study of the benefits of moving from R260 to HP335 were presented at the 2018 contact mechanics conference in Delft in September 2018. For more information on this or on Zinoco rails please contact us.
Rail transport is a vital part of operations at Drax to keep the lights on in peoples homes, and the wheels of industry turning. Using the right rail allows us to do this more efficiently - Andrew Brade, Railway Engineer, Drax Power Station