FM Sudafix has a long association with both light and heavy rail projects. With an original presence through the provision of technical earthing/grounding support and the provision of exothermic welding kits, FM Sudafix has since expanded the rail product range to include rail to rail bonding solutions as well as many others detailed below.
Rail projects present unique risk profiles in terms of electrical safety. Be they heavy rail projects or light rail projects, they will inevitably provide the interface between electrical power systems and the public. It is critical that electrical safety systems perform effectively, all the time.
Determining the risk profile of a rail project should consider the following issues:
Earthing/grounding and bonding:
Rail systems directly interface with people and for this reason a comprehensive earthing/grounding and bonding system must be in place to protect them.
Creating equipotential zones (or zones of equal electrical potential):
Ensures that electricity does not seek an alternative route of lower resistance; without equipotential zones electricity may find alternative paths to earth, which may be via human beings or conductive elements with which people may come into direct contact.
If DC electricity is able to leak into the surrounding mass of earth then it will locate conductive elements and discharge through them. In a single instance this is not likely to result in discernable damage, however if the leak is sustained it may very well cause significant damage to conductive underground elements. Stray currents have the potential to migrate significant distances and have been known to cause substantial damage to elements such as reinforcing, steel bridges, underground metallic pipes.
Lightning is an often overlooked threat facing rail projects. As we know, lightning seeks the path of least electrical resistance to enable it to discharge into the strata of the earth. A lightning strike emits a powerful electromagnetic pulse that radiates and has the ability to cause damage. Lightning strikes, both direct and indirect, can result in structural damage, fire, failure/destruction of equipment, and loss of life.
Electrical surges have the potential to damage, degrade and destroy electrical elements, and if these are transient overvoltages are not intercepted whole systems can fail. Be they a result of lightning activity or down stream fault current, electrical surges have been known to cause equipment damage, fires and loss of life.
When the above hazards are addressed on a rail project it is likely to make one product jump to mind above all others, and that is copper. Copper is often used in electrical safety aspects of rail projects and it is also the most frequently stolen or vandalised item on rail sites, being what the British Transport Police defines as an overwhelming threat to safety, second only to terrorism. As is described elsewhere on this website and in FM Sudafix’s broader corporate communications, stealing copper from electrical safety systems is comparable to stealing a someone’s car brake cables. FM Sudafix has a number of strategies for protecting or even theft-preventing the sorts of systems so frequently fall victim to criminals, and these will be explored further momentarily, but it is really worth considering the reality of copper theft, particularly on railway infrastructure.
Copper for electrical safety is installed to save lives and if it is not there any more then people can suffer. It is easy to consider rail operators as faceless, wealthy companies that can afford to replace stolen copper, but these are the same companies publicly criticised every time rail fares rise. Copper is a valuable commodity and it is expensive to constantly replace and unsurprisingly those costs are handed on to the customers. Another aspect to consider is that faceless wealthy companies have faces, and the faces belong to the people that work for them, undertaking often dangerous work to ensure that others are safe. The guy with the spanner in his hand at 3am on a winter morning is not a corporate bigwig, and even corporate bigwigs do not deserve to be victims of crime, otherwise those crimes would not be deemed criminal behaviour at all. Copper theft is frustratingly overlooked or dismissed because it is seen as “free money lying on the railway”, this website and the company it represents knows that it is not, it is a parachute, a brake cable, a seat belt, or a life raft. It is there for the expressed purpose of keeping people safe.
Fortunately FM Sudafix has the experience, strategies, and technologies to help protect copper from the threats of thieves and vandals. Using a range of proprietary methods and specialist products FM Sudafix can help keep rail projects safe and reduce operational downtime. For the electrical earthing aspect of copper theft on rail projects a commonly used product is Conducrete conductive concrete, which is very fast to install, requires very little metallic interface, has a service life of in excess of 45 years, and casts what little copper used in solid concrete. To date FM Sudafix’s Conducrete solutions on rail sites have 100% success rate with regards to security and this is something of which the company is enormously proud.
The rail division of FM Sudafix supports numerous rail projects around the globe. Primarily involved in the electrical safety and protective systems on rail projects, FM Sudafix possesses the expertise and renowned service and product portfolio to effectively manage the risk profile of any project. The technical, operations and product departments unite to ensure that the rail projects with which FM Sudafix is involved are protected by the most effective, and installation-practical, electrical safety systems. All aspects relating to electricity on rail projects have to be managed. Any electrical element in a rail system which is not managed has the potential to introduce significant deficiencies, or could manifest into life threatening hazards. A rail project with efficient electrical elements will save money, reduce down time, and most importantly save lives. There is nothing to gain in taking a chance, and everything to gain, from prestige, piece of mind and budget savings, by working with FM Sudafix.
The following list of products may be of interest if you are working on a rail project. Please feel free to get in touch with our sales team should you wish to learn more about any item in this great product range.
Rail products: Rail contact kits / rail bonding kits
Rail contact kits are an invaluable part of any traction bonding installation. Rails need to maintain the same electrical potential and to achieve this a direct connection is made between the two running rails, and often between adjacent tracks. The most commonly used method of connecting rail to rail and track to track is by drilling both rails (or both tracks) and then installing a rail contact kit, which will enable a lugged cable to be fastened directly onto the web of the rail. FM Sudafix has sold many thousands of these products over the years and continues to do so to this day.
Rail products: Rail contact insertion tool
This tool makes the product mentioned above possible to use. As rail contact kits need to be secured into the web of the rail it is achieved by using an insertion tool to expand a copper bush into the recess left by drilling. This results in a smooth tinned covered copper connection directly within the steel of the rail that offers a path for joining the two media together with a bolted connection from a lugged cable.
Rail products: Traction bonds
FM Sudafix has a great deal of experience in manufacturing traction bonds for rail projects. The traction bonds are made using approved specification cable sized to each specific application, individually labelled for later identification and traceability, lugged at both ends and tested with values recorded for future reference. In the past FM Sudafix has seen many hundreds of traction rail bonds leave its workshop in a single week, and current popularity indicates the appeal is undiminished. This product is one of convenience, but it is convenience that invariably saves money than the alternative of creating these on site in any capacity. Manufacturing rail bonds on site necessitates using a range of tools, and testing instrumentation in unpredictable conditions, and it is for this reason that FM Sudafix’s quality controlled pre-manufactured traction bonds were put into manufacture.
If you are interested in traction bond installation then please feel free to contact the technical department. Earthing Services’ site engineers have a number of systems as well as proprietary tooling to help install traction bonds at an incredibly swift rate. Traction bonds can be supplied as a product without any need to secure Earthing Services’ traction bond installation service, it is simply an added value service that many customers find useful.
Rail products: Cables
There is always more cable installed on a rail project than there is track. Fortunately FM Sudafix supplies a wide range of cables for use on rail sites and is always happy to help with your enquiries.
Rail products: Cable accessories such as lugs and heat shrink
To support the wide range of cables that FM Sudafix sells the company provides a range of accessories. Tinned copper cable lugs are often required and many sizes have an inspection hole to ensure that the cable has been pushed to the end of the lug prior to crimping to guarantee a strong connection. Crimping tools can be supplied to ensure that all lug, barrel and c-crimp type connections can be made, and the necessary fixings are available for all of those varieties of application. Heat shrink is often used to protect and professionalise any cable connection and FM Sudafix supplies a wide range of heat shrink, including end-caps, which are particularly popular on applications where the termination or connection of a cable is not due to occur for some time as it protects and prevents the cable from splaying. If you have a cable connection or heat shrink application it is likely that FM Sudafix will only be too happy to help.
Rail products: stray current testing instruments
Prudent rail installation companies recognise the need to monitor the stray current performance of their work throughout the phases of construction and to help support that need FM Sudafix is pleased to offer the range of testing instruments required to do so.
In the event that a company would like rail to earth testing or rail continuity testing undertaking on its behalf then the Earthing Services technical department is certainly able to help. Please feel free to navigate to the stray current management section of this website to discover how Earthing Services can resolve these problems on your behalf.
Rail products: stray current testing cables and accessories
Having all the testing instruments to undertake stray current corrosion testing will not get the job done without the appropriate testing cables and accessories to interface with the rail infrastructure. Fortunately FM Sudafix can supply or even custom manufacture a range of accessories to make your testing experience positive and as simple as possible.
Rail products: Voltage Limiting Devices (VLDs)
Voltage Limiting Devices are commonly installed on light rail projects as a method of protecting specific items or pieces of infrastructure from electrical faults. Please get in touch to advise your requirement.
Rail products: electrical earthing materials suitable for shallow excavations
Rail sites can present many challenges when it comes to electrical earthing. Often times there are restrictions on depths of excavations which may prevent the driving of earth rods. Frequently the ground into which electrical earthing is being installed is “made-up ground” or even simply ballast, which is very poor conditions in which to earth. Fortunately ‘Earthing Services has the technology and expertise to create safe electrical earthing systems in shallow excavations which are also protected from even the strenuous efforts of thieves or vandals. Conducrete conductive concrete has helped achieve numerous safe electrical earths in even the most challenging rail environments, so if you would like to learn more please feel free to get in touch.