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Socomec Integrated Power Systems signal a new dawn in the UK Rail Sector.

12 April 2013

In amongst the daily commuter bustle, many of us have noticed the extensive improvements taking place over recent years at one of London’s busiest – and most iconic - railway stations.

The Grade 1 listed building, designed by Lewis Cubitt in 1852, is undergoing a significant redevelopment programme in conjunction with English Heritage.

Since work commenced in 2007, the station has seen the addition of a new platform, a new concourse, the restoration of the Eastern Range and the replacement of the historic Handyside bridge with an accessible footbridge.  The final phase of redevelopment will culminate in the unveiling of a 7,000m2 square, bringing to the station an old-world splendour so often associated with railway travel of a bygone era.

The project has even inspired the transformation of the local environment.  With 67 acres of brown-field land being redeveloped to create offices, retail space and residential accommodation, this is one of the largest regeneration schemes currently in play within Europe.

The provision of cleaner, greener power has been a major driver in the regeneration of King’s Cross; the addition of solar panels will generate 10% of the station’s energy requirements and a rainwater recycling scheme already provides up to one third of the water used on the Eastern Range.

As night draws in and the evening rush subsides, work is only just beginning for the contractors and engineers tasked with sensitively integrating the very latest in design and technology with the grand Victorian architecture of King’s Cross.
As a leading provider of critical power solutions, Socomec was delighted to be chosen to play a key role in the specification and installation of UPS and Emergency Lighting systems at King’s Cross station.

Andrew Wilkinson, Regional Managing Director Socomec comments: “One of the greatest challenges within the King’s Cross project was to ensure that we safeguarded the architectural integrity of the building in which our engineers were working.  Furthermore, it was vital that we minimised the disruption to the station’s operation and, therefore, to the thousands of people that use the station every day.  Not only were we often working with very restricted night time access, but we were also working as part of a much wider regeneration project.  As you dash across the station to catch a train, it is impossible to imagine the sheer scale of engineering and technology that is present within the existing infrastructure – even more incredible is the fact that the infrastructure was experiencing a constant state of flux with every manoeuvre within the project.” 

Wilkinson goes on to explain, “All of the survey details that were guiding our engineering team were ever-changing and access routes were altered regularly.  Lift access was unreliable due to works going on in parallel to our installation, and stairways were for pedestrian use only, so our teams had to be flexible and adaptable in order to successfully complete the installation.  In preparing the relevant areas, we found that most of the internal floors were not rated to support this type of equipment and had to be strengthened to accommodate the battery packs.”

Socomec delivered complete solutions for both UPS and Emergency Lighting Central Power Supplies for the Western Range Building and the Network Rail Plant Room.
During the course of one month and in challenging conditions Socomec tested and commissioned  9 UPS systems  and 8 Emergency Lighting Central Power Supply solutions.

Furthermore, Socomec worked closely with the NGB project managers to identify opportunities to provide additional solutions to facilitate the installation.

Nick  Golder, Socomec Project Manager, provides an example; “On the Emergency Lighting Inverters the electrical design had two supplies - mains and generator - to each module via an automatic changeover switch (ATS). 

The ATS was required to signal the gen-set in the event of a mains fail to start, and transfer the supply to the UPS module form the mains to the gen-set.  Due to the limited space available for switchgear, we were able to propose the integration of a Socomec ATS in our External Maintenance Bypass switch.  This meant that we were able to provide a compact single solution which saved a significant amount of space and reduced installation costs.”

Paul Lowbridge , Project Manager for Socomec commented, “The Socomec  and NGB teams worked extremely well together; Socomec thoroughly enjoyed working with NG Baileys  on this complex project.  We were particularly impressed with the collaborative and constructive approach, and the flexibility and professionalism of the teams in response to the unique challenges of this installation.”

Even once installed, requirements changed and Socomec was requested to alter the configuration of the Emergency Lighting UPS from “maintained” to “non-maintained” outputs.   Socomec and NGB worked tirelessly to make this late change without delay – and even worked to reverse the alteration back to “maintained” output when requirements changed once more.

Socomec’s heritage in the critical power business - combined with an unrivalled breadth and depth of specialist knowledge and expertise - positions the business as a real industry authority.
Andrew Wilkinson, Regional Managing Director of Socomec explains that a broad range of integrated products and services have been developed to address what are considered to be four of the most critical power related issues: availability, efficiency, capacity and flexibility.

“At Socomec we are increasingly looking at how we can integrate technology from each of our four business applications – Critical Power; Energy Efficiency; Power Control & Safety and Solar - in order to provide systems that improve the performance of critical buildings.  The supply of reliable, cost-effective power which can be scaled to meet the rapidly changing capacity demands of a critical infrastructure is the foundation upon which our clients’ businesses are built. 

Socomec invests heavily in pioneering research and product design in order to deliver world-class innovations that solve our customers’ greatest challenges in terms of energy efficiency, reliability, business continuity and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  We are excited to be able to offer fully integrated solutions, drawing on the wealth of knowledge and skills from each highly specialised division of Socomec.”

Socomec has developed an advanced critical power solution - the IP+ Rail range - designed specifically for the uniquely demanding requirements of rail sector applications. 
The specialist Socomec IP+ Rail range represents the very latest in UPS technology for the mass transportation sector, ensuring the safe and reliable operation of rail networks and infrastructure.

“At Socomec we recognised that much of the equipment used in the UK rail sector was at least two generations behind the critical power systems being sold into industrial and data centre applications.  We have, therefore, developed a system specifically for UK rail and underground applications, using our ruggedized industrial IP+ unit as a platform. 

TCO is increasingly important in the mass transport sector: we are committed to developing complete critical power solutions which not only provide outstanding performance but also deliver exceptional value throughout their lifecycle.”

With unprecedented numbers choosing to travel by rail, the ongoing performance of the installed systems is vital.  Socomec’s dedicated critical power engineering team is responsible for ensuring business continuity, optimising efficiency and guaranteeing the safe performance is the UPS and Emergency Lighting systems at King’s Cross.

Wilkinson explains, “We understand the importance of maintaining vital equipment whilst also maintaining control of your facility’s operating costs.  Socomec has created a completely customised Commissioning, Inspection and Maintenance (CIM) package for the King’s Cross system architecture. 

High quality engineering support is a vital component in any business continuity plan and is, unfortunately, often overlooked until something goes wrong.  We believe that a holistic approach to maintenance is imperative in order to achieve the very best performance from a system as well as to make the ongoing system management as easy as possible.”

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