“Turnkey points renewal” at OeBB’s Klus station.

Complete solutions from SBB Infrastructure for strong rail operations.

SBB Infrastructure wants to offer its customers more end-to-end solutions in the future. It has now carried out a complete points renewal for OeBB, serving as general contractor.

Oensingen-Balsthal-Bahn OeBB provides public transport connectivity between Oensingen and Balsthal in the Thal-Gäu region in the canton of Solothurn. OeBB transports over 600,000 passengers and 94,000 brutto tonnes of freight every year on its route, which is four kilometres long. As part of a 10-year renewal programme for trackside and overhead wire equipment, points set number 2 at Klus-Balsthal was renewed over the course of a week. The wooden set of points (type 185) had served the railway for 33 years and was replaced with a new set of points (type 300). As general contractor, SBB Infrastructure provided the first “turnkey points renewal”. 

Advantage: Simpler coordination for the infrastructure manager.

“Experience shows that carrying out points renewal requires cooperation between the client and the various track construction service providers and the coordination generates a lot of work,” says Nekdarios Carpouchtsis, Rail Technology and Logistics Key Account Manager at SBB Infrastructure. That made the turnkey points renewal such an attractive offer: “SBB Infrastructure offered to provide planning, track construction work, machines, points manufacturing, materials and proper disposal of waste material in full.” The complete package was carried out in cooperation with track construction partners Meier+Jäggi, who were responsible for the track construction works and ancillary services, and AeBo+Dill, responsible for the planning.

The construction stages were planned in close cooperation with OeBB so as to ensure that rail operations were not severely restricted on weekdays. For the weekend, the OeBB arranged for a railway replacement. Moreover, OeBB provided its own staff and locomotive to help shunt railway carriages and carried out work on the safety installations during the construction phase and organised the catenary regulation.

Track renewals generate a high workload for coordination between the suppliers and the service providers involved.
Image legend: Track renewals generate a high workload for coordination between the suppliers and the service providers involved.

Intense working week.

Nekdarios Carpouchtsis remembers the construction works: in the working week from 9 to 16 December 2019, it rained and snowed at times, with winter temperatures of five degrees on average. The construction work started on Monday evening with the delivery of the new set of points which had been prefabricated in the rail technology centre. The track layers preassembled the set of points in lots on site over the days which followed, making it ready to be fitted. Additionally, the new track was measured in preparation, markings were made and any add-on parts for points were dismantled. At the weekend they were ready. After a long period of preparation, the intensive phase started. It lasted Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 December 2019 and the stations and route were closed entirely. The twelve man-strong construction crew started by dismantling the existing old points system. Then they laid out and levelled the trackbed. The 180 tonnes of ballast had to be transported to and from the site by lorry given the particularities of the site. The track layers used a mobile crane to place the new set of points in the correct position on the track bed. Then, the points were ballasted to stabilise them, and the connecting rails were thermite welded. A setting device was installed to allow the points to be operated manually. The construction crew ended the works on Sunday by dismantling the old set of points and their wiring ready for the waste to be disposed. In all, a total of 209 tonnes of new materials were installed and old materials disposed of properly. Nekdarios Carpouchtsis was delighted that the works ran seamlessly. “After the client accepted the completed project, we could hand over the points system even earlier than planned.” “Previously, we were known mainly as a manufacturer of points. With turnkey points renewal, we have been able to offer our customers complete solutions which make their lives easier.”

Markus Schindelholz, Managing Director of OeBB, also saw the renewal as a complete success story. “The work of the various service providers and suppliers complemented each other perfectly. We are pleased that SBB Infrastructure took over overall coordination and supported us closely as a consultant.”

Markus Schindelholz (left), Managing Director of OeBB and Nekdarios Carpouchtsis (right), Project Manager at Rail Technology and Logistics Sales at SBB Infrastructure.
Image legend: Markus Schindelholz (left), Managing Director of OeBB and Nekdarios Carpouchtsis (right), Project Manager at Rail Technology and Logistics Sales at SBB Infrastructure.

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