Blog15 February 2021

Pump hire tackles crippling floods to preserve busy train timetable

The infrastructural impact of heavy weather on railway services can never be underestimated, with strong winds and flood water particularly disruptive. High volumes of rainfall can wash away ballast – the bed of stones that supports wooden sleepers – and potentially render the line unsafe until it has been re-laid.

Additionally, signalling points and other vital hardware rely on intricate wiring and power supplies to function effectively, and these become extremely vulnerable to failure when water levels become excessive. Flooding can even lead live conductor rails to short circuit, with obvious implications for both the service provider and would-be passengers.

In November 2020, Sykes Pumps was contacted by a regional railway network operator following reports of a section of track being submerged in the Lancashire area. The affected railway ran adjacent to several agricultural fields, with a local stream running directly beneath the line via a culvert.

Over time, this conduit had weakened to the point of collapse which prevented the water passing freely from one side of the track to the other. As a result, huge volumes of water were essentially backing up which was caused by a combination of heavy storms and the stream overflowing.

In response to the issue, we provided our client with three P2001N electric submersible drainer pumps which were connected to a generator. Each pump was fitted with approximately 80 metres of 4” hose which enabled the build-up of water to be safely discharged into a river situated nearby. Our pumps were fitted with float switches to help save fuel and ensure they were only operational when required.

Due to the nature of the application, Sykes’ expert engineers completed the installation overnight while the railway line was out of use. Since implementing a tailor-made pump hire solution, we have been able to address the problem at source and allow critical repairs to be made to the culvert without further complications hampering a vital transport service in a remote part of the country.