Big Brutes Contribute To Improved Reliability On The London Underground

May 9, 2017

Lanes Group Rail Division are using Big Brute Wet & Dry Industrial Vacuum Cleaners on one of the oldest sections of the London Underground.

Lanes Group Rail Division provides reactive and planned civil engineering works across the national rail network, London Underground and the light rail/tram sector.

London Underground challenged Lanes Group Rail Division to tackle the problem of maintaining track drainage, particularly along a four-mile section of track from Baker Street to Finchley Central known as M100.

M100 is one of the oldest and busiest sections of the London Underground. One of the main causes of signal failure along this stretch of track is water levels rising in the tunnels, tripping the signaling equipment.

The tunnels have drainage sumps located every 30 metres or so connected by drainage pipes. These often clog up with clay silt.

The conventional way of clearing these pipes was by using rods to push the silt into the drainage sumps, shovel the silt up, bag it and send it for disposal as contaminated waste. This was not only labour-intensive, but due to the design of the tunnels, dating from the age of steam, the drainage systems were often difficult to access.

To further complicate matters, the clay sediments tend to liquefy when disturbed in the pipes. This results in the bagged waste being up to 80% water.

Trevor Osborne, Night Time Supervisor at Lanes Group Rail Division, first visited us at our premises in Cambridge after hearing about the Big Brute being used on another project. We suggested a Big Brute Wet & Dry with an Interceptor system.

The Big Brute sucks up the liquefied clay directly into the Interceptor drum. When this is full and settled out, the Big Brute is used to suck the water from the Interceptor drum. This water, which can be quickly emptied out of the Big Brute through its discharge valve, is then used to flush the drainage pipes clear.

The Big Brute is then used to suck the remaining clay waste directly into another drum lined with a disposable waste bag, ready for easy disposal.

Since most of the water in the recovered sludge is used to flush the draining pipes clear, the resultant bagged waste is now 80% clay.

The Big Brute systems have reduced manual handling, reduced waste sent to landfill, and have contributed significantly to service reliability on M100.

“We’re very pleased with the technology – it could be revolutionary for track drainage cleaning on London Underground. The benefits, so far, are very clear,” Trevor told us.

“The health and safety benefits, with reduced manual handling and confined space entry, are significant. There will also be operational improvements, with cleaning cycles along M100 reduced from up to four a year to one or two, and with a smaller team.”

Read about another use case for the Big Brute Wet & Dry, with S D M Fuel Solutions Ltd cleaning fuel tanks of boats and ships.

Lanes Group Using Their Big Brute Wet & Dry To Empty Sumps Beneath The Tracks On The London Underground