Ricardo's independent certification business has been playing a key role on one of the largest engineering upgrades ever undertaken on the UK mainline network.
The June 2020 launch of passenger services running entirely under electrical wires between London and Cardiff marked one of the last remaining milestones in a decade-long programme to modernise the famous Great Western route.
Although Network Rail had previously secured authorisation from the UK's safety regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, to open the final - and most westerly - electrified section of the route in January 2020, the bi-mode vehicles that operated on the line still had to switch to their diesel engines when passing through the Severn tunnel.
This was until rectification works within the tunnel ensured the wires were safe from water seeping through the brickwork from the estuary above.
With the works complete, and the tunnel safely electrified, all vehicles operating between the two capital cities can now travel entirely by electric power, reducing journey times by 15 minutes and helping to increase the route’s capacity.
Our teams logged, processed and, where appropriate, assessed in excess of 10,000 reports, drawings, certificates or compliance arguments.
The Great Western route is one of the UK's busiest, supporting passenger and freight services from London’s Paddington station to the south west of England and southern Wales, including the Cardiff region.
It is also one of the country’s oldest rail lines, following a pathway first established in 1835 by English civil engineer Isambard Brunel.
However, even as the 21st century dawned, the route continued to rely on infrastructure that dated back to its 19th century origins.
In 2010, Network Rail embarked on a £7.5 billion modernisation programme to revamp the route so it could support faster, more frequent and more reliable services.
In addition to new fleets of electric and bi-mode rolling stock, track upgrades and station improvements, a cornerstone of the scheme was the 235-mile electrification of routes between London, Newbury, Bristol and Cardiff.
Ricardo Certification was appointed by Network Rail as the Notified Body/Designated Body (NoBo/DeBo) for the assessment of compliance with the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011 (as amended) (RIR).
The scope, which was to encompass the mainline between Maidenhead and Cardiff, included assessment of compliance with the current Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI) for the Energy, Infrastructure and Persons of Reduced Mobility Sub-Systems, for the 25kV electrification programme and related infrastructure projects.
Separately, Ricardo Certification served as the Notified Body for the Maidenhead to London Paddington section of Network Rail’s Crossrail On Network Works, and is currently performing the same role on the Stratford to Shenfield section.
We also subsequently took on the role of Assessment Body (AsBo) for the assessment of application of the Common Safety Method for Risk Evaluation and Assessment (CSM RA) regulations.
This included early design work for the rail link to Heathrow via a proposed twin bore tunnel.
Over the next seven years our teams logged, processed and, where appropriate, assessed in excess of 10,000 reports, drawings, certificates or compliance arguments.
During the process we produced 10 Intermediate Statements of Verification (ISVs), leading to 20 NoBo-Files as the NoBo/DeBo and 164 Assessment Records, culminating in 30 Safety Assessment Reports (SARs) as the AsBo.
Our pre-authorisation deliverables included AsBo Safety Assessment Reports, NoBo/DeBo Files and various addendums were supplied in June to support the electrification of Severn Tunnel. Final post commissioning activities are ongoing to ensure that compliance statements are fully captured, enabling wrap up of the project before the end of the year.
Ricardo Certification operates as a separate and entirely independent business within the Ricardo group and is accredited to provide assurance services by the relevant regulatory authorities. For more information, see certification.ricardo.com