Colas Rail is a world leader in the construction of high speed lines. We built our first High Speed line over 35 years ago and since then have constructed over 3000km of line across Europe, Asia and most recently Africa.
This includes installing track & catenary on the sections of line that holds the current British record 334.7km/hr (High Speed 1), and the world record for conventional trains 574.8km/hr to the east of Paris. We recently completed all the catenary on the line from Rennes-Le Mans as well as the track and catenary on the new line from Nimes- Montpellier and in Morocco from Tangier to Kenitra. All 3 lines are currently into their commissioning phases.
Investing in people (skills)
On the Moroccan high speed rail project, we placed a major emphasis on social responsibility. Morocco is a country that had no significant railway infrastructure of industry to fall back on, and where the project team had to educate local school children not just of the dangers of a high speed railway but railways in general as many of them had never seen a train before. The option was to either import skilled resources on a temporary basis or to grow our own workforce. We chose the latter to ensure we would leave a legacy.
We engaged with the local schools and colleges, establishing our own training school to target the development of local resources in courses ranging from safety awareness, to more technical catenary & track techniques onto overseeing the movement of rail vehicles and people management.
This new facility trained over 1400 people, of these 85% had no previous experience in the rail sector. The overall resource statistics showing that 95% of those who worked on the scheme were Moroccan nationals. Over 30 of these young Moroccans are continuing with their studies and seeking to obtain formal professional qualifications, – employees such as 25 year old Miriem BARKATU who was responsible for overseeing the catenary pre-fabrication facility and all operations within.
This was a successful scheme – delivered on time & budget & like HS2 this is the first phase and the legacy of a skilled indigenous workforce means the country is much better placed for subsequent phases.
Preparing the ground (groundworks, civils etc)
In order to realise efficiencies in the programme and deliver on time we constructed the route first as a road, before then carrying out railway works. Initial works included topography and siting of OLE posts. Then the road construction work began. This involved excavation so that the catenary posts could be installed alongside the railway, which at this point continued to resemble a road rather than a multi-billionpound railway. Once the masts were in place, the feeder wires are unreeled and strung between the masts (using road transport). The next phase saw the sleepers sited along the railway before pre-ballasting took place. This enabled 30% of this particular part of the project to be completed in one go. By constructing the railway in this manner, Colas Rail was able to let the land settle and (in effect) lay the railway on the road, having already dealt with issues such as drainage and the land subsiding.
Designing brilliance (innovation, design, BIM etc)
Our long established design process has developed through vast experience in high-speed Lines with the knowledge of different technologies, allowing us to fully integrate various subsystems with physical and functional interface management, right down to individual components. We have developed simulation tools and computer-aided design programmes to ensure that safety and performance is achieved but also allows the application of standards and components to produce systems that are specific to a particular country.