by shaun on 27/05/09 at 12:43 pm
╬ô├ç┬úYou do not touch anything after 10:00 in the morning, especially not any steel items or metal tools. Temperatures of up to 55Γö¼ΓûæC during the day and this, together with severe sandstorms, made it very challenging to complete the project!╬ô├ç┬Ñ
Tubular Track (Pty) Limited, based in Pretoria, South Africa, is a partner in a joint venture company with Central Mining Company Investment Limited (CMCI) named T-Track Saudi. Tubular Track Saudi Arabia in conjunction with the local railway authority recently installed a 900 metre section of Tubular Track on the main railway line between Harad and Al Tawdihiyah in the Eastern Province. This line carries mainly containerised freight between Dammam and the capital, Riyadh.
The project was initiated approximately two years ago with the involve-ment of various role players including government institutions in both countries and private businesses identifying a specific need in Saudi Arabia for providing possible solutions in the form of Tubular Modular Track.
The particular stretch of the main-line where the section is installed, some 40km, operates in some of the harshest conditions due to sand and associated sandstorms. ╬ô├ç┬┐Contractors are permanently on standby to clear the line of sand after these storms, to ensure a safe passage for the trains.
Contracts Director for Tubular Track Craig Tengstrom, who recently returned to South Africa after the installation, highlighted some of the severe conditions that were experienced in the desert. ╬ô├ç┬úAfter a couple of weeks in the desert, a person partially acclimatises to the high temperatures; however, the sandstorms are intolerable and depressing╬ô├ç┬Ñ.
The job could not have been done at a worse time of the year ╬ô├ç├┤ right in the middle of most probably the hottest summer anywhere on the planet. To compound matters, July and August are also the months when the worst sandstorms blow through this region.
╬ô├ç┬úIt is extremely depressing to arrive at work the next day, only to find that you must remove tonnes of sand before work can continue. We most probably removed 15,000 tonnes and only replaced 3,000 tonnes. It became difficult to keep morale up at that stage, especially with expat labour who did not understand a word of English. My sign language really improved╬ô├ç┬Ñ, said Craig.
One of the main advantages of using Tubular Track in these desert environments is that there is no ballast that can be fouled causing loss in track resilience which ultimately leads to track failure. Tubular Track on the other hand maintains its resilience in the form of a continuous resilient strip between the modular beam and the rail. Sand cannot penetrate into this rail/beam interface, thereby ensuring continued designed track performance.
Tubular Track has completed the project in Saudi Arabia successfully and is now keenly awaiting the potential of more installations in the current and future expansion of the rail network in the country.
Brief summary of the installation:
- 30 Ton axle loads ╬ô├ç├┤ freight line
- Standard gauge 1,435mm ╬ô├ç├┤ 54kg/m rails
- Geotechnical field test to assist in the required layer work design
- Formation and TMT beam design under guidance of Prof Jan Wium (Stellenbosch University) and Dr Herman Wolff (KV3 Consulting)
- Finite Element Analysis produced by Transnet Rail Engineering under guidance of Hannes Maree (Principal Engineer ╬ô├ç├┤ Track Test Centre)
- Moulds and TMT components were manufactured in South Africa and shipped to Saudi Arabia
- A factory was set up in Dammam were the modules were produced
- Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO ╬ô├ç├┤ the state railway) transported the modules by rail to the site on flatcars