By Phil Marsh

Thameslink and Great Northern Christmas present for commuters as Siemens’ £300million depot modernisation project is completed with Hornsey depot opening

Published: 19th December 2016

Siemens and partners deliver trains and depots on time for the Thameslink project

Hornsey depot has seen many changes in its lifetime with steam servicing ending there in 1961 and diesel servicing a decade later. A new depot was built for the Kings Cross suburban electrification in the mid 1970s when Cass 313s and then Class 312s were based there.

Today, the former steam shed is used as a stores warehouse while the 40 year old electric depot has been modernized and a brand new state of the art depot built by Siemens, as part of their contract to service and maintain their brand new Class 700 series fleets of trains about to enter service. It is the sister Siemens depot to Three Bridges which will share Thameslink train servicing duties.

The ‘new Hornsey’ has taken four years to complete and now incorporates the former Coronation sidings between Bounds Green and the old Hornsey depots. These were still in existence, but heavily overgrown and with live overhead electric wires and a yard signalbox and used for stabling trains in BR days.

Coronation sidings have been replaced by the new facilities and a northern main line connection added for operational flexibility. They will also help service the billion-pound fleet of new trains which will be operating via Canal tunnel just out of Kings Cross to and from the south coast from 2018 when the 20-year Thameslink project comes to fruition.

The upgraded parts and new Hornsey depot facility were built by Siemens using Volker-Fitzpatrick as their main contractor to create a swathe of new sidings and servicing facilities for the new trains. The associated power supplies had to be boosted and upgraded to enable the larger depot to operate and the connections and signaling were fully integrated with the main line operation by Network Rail.

This meant that time-critical possessions on the ECML had to be booked several years in advance with, and then taken by Network Rail, so the project had to run on time, and it did as well as to budget.

They said: GTR Engineering Director Gerry McFadden said:

“The new maintenance building at Hornsey is a crucial part of the government-sponsored Thameslink Programme built specifically for Siemens to maintain our new Class 700 Thameslink trains, the new building complements the improved existing depot where we care for the Great Northern fleet and together they create a centre of excellence in engineering.

”Dave Hooper, Thameslink Programme Director for Siemens UK, said:

“Siemens is proud to have delivered the new depot at Hornsey on time and on budget. This will be a first class, state-of-the-art train care facility for the excellent new Class 700 Thameslink trains, which will make journeys in and out of London more comfortable and more reliable for passengers.”

Rail Minister Paul Maynard said:

“This new depot is another example of the enormous investment this government is making throughout the rail network and is a major step in delivering the Thameslink Programme.”

Chris Evans, managing director for the civil engineering division for VolkerFitzpatrick, added:

“We are very proud to have safely delivered Hornsey depot for Siemens, after already successfully completing Three Bridges depot as part of the Thameslink Programme in 2015.

What’s at the enlarged, upgraded and new traincare facility at Hornsey

Hornsey Depot is now one of the UK’s largest train servicing facilities (72,500 m2, the equivalent of 12.4 football pitches) with over 237 GTR staff working in the original maintenance building. They maintain six classes of trains (Classes 313, 317, 321, 319, 365, 387) while Siemens will maintain in the new maintenance building Class 700 Thameslink services and in 2019, the suburban Class 717 Moorgate trains.

The Hornsey depot upgrade was a carefully sequenced operation over four years to ensure the new main line connections, sidings, electrification and associated signalling systems to be installed and commissioned. The new maintenance building and all other activities were delivered as per plan and budget and the work was carried out while the depot was fully operational unlike the sister Three Bridges Depot which was built on a former railway site. The cost for both depots was £300 million.

Hornsey now boasts room to stable 188 Class 700 carriages, has a new a new 225metre underframe cleaning facility; 2 x carriage wash machines; 2 x bogie drops; full depot signalling (including power operated points, depot protection and points heating) replacing hand signalling and ensuring the safe and efficient movement of trains.

The 1970s built Hornsey depot has been expanded over the last four years as part of the Thameslink Programme with a new control room and signal control centre, a second new train underframe cleaning facility, a security upgrade to the whole depot site and a new depot personnel protection system.

The contract tender was published in 2009 and Siemens and Volker Fitzpatrick entered a partnership and became the preferred bidder in June 2012 for the DfT sponsored project. They had to deliver the trains and both depots to strict deadlines and budgets which were met. Network Rail and Haringey Council were also partners. Work was completed on 18 July 2016, as had been agreed four years earlier between the parties.

Better than the Olympics and Gold award

The project won a Considerate Contractors gold award and had an excellent safety record with 1.565 million man hours worked and an accident frequency rate of 0.12 - better than the Olympic building projects.

Coronation sidings were cleared in May 2012 and within six months the new northern main-line connection had been installed with and the new depot and main line signaling was commissioned in May 2016.

The south of the depot had 15 stabling sidings and a five-road maintenance shed for existing trains plus one Controlled Emission Toilet (CET) pump-out facility and a wheel lathe. A new 250metre underframe wash plant has been built and 68 CET points installed to speed up servicing. The new depot protection system has interlocking signals to protect staff working on trains.

In-house repairs

The depot now carries out most repairs to its trains rather than sending then away to Works saving a huge amount of money and time. This includes such items as cam-shafts saving around £15,000 each and all trains from the GTR network can be repaired.

Staff use an automated tool and spares unit devised by Cromwell Tools. They log-in swiping a key fob on a reader, the item code is entered on a screen and the item required is dispensed. And if a trend emerges that certain parts or tools are being used more often than anticipated, this will be investigated for the cause. And should a tool shortage arise, then again, this can be investigated and remedied so production is not delayed.

The new Siemens shed has three lines inside used for heavy maintenance and also has two bogie drops. Carriage rooftop components such as HVAC units are lifted out using small overhead cranes.

A new access road was laid into the depot to enable lorries carrying building equipment and materials to be carried into and out of the site. This meant that two adjacent road bridges were also widened and piling was involved. This is why community relations with Haringey Council were so important.

The numbers game;

The site could contain 12.3 football pitches

98,534 cubic metres of muck were removed

12.13kms of track were laid

11.2kms of OLE was installed

570 tons of steel used made up of 9446 individual pieces

18,967 cubic metres of concrete used

50,256 tonnes of ballast used

45,000 metres of cabling installed

155,000 metres of cables used in 33,000 wire runs

All in all, a tremendous achievement crucial to the new railway network in the southeast and they might not realise it yet, but it is a symbolic Christmas present for all passengers on what will become the enlarged Thameslink project.

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