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Noisy Trams Get the Silent Treatment on Coronation Street

The cast of Coronation Street, the world’s longest-running soap opera, no longer face daily disruption from tram noise following the installation of an innovative new trackside friction management solution by L.B. Foster Rail Technologies.

The interrupting high pitched sound of metal-on-metal was generated as trams on the new £350m Trafford Park Metrolink line in Manchester negotiated tight curves in front of the ITV Studios. Installed trackside, L.B. Foster’s embedded Top of Rail (TOR) friction modifier system is the first commercial installation of its kind in Europe using the company’s unique new TOR Foam Bar.

Mat Holland, Head of Engineering, L.B. Foster Rail Technologies, explains: “‘Coronation Street is full of firsts. It holds the title for the first TV soap opera to reach the age of 50 and used product placement before any other UK prime time show. Now it’s benefiting from the first application of our new TOR Foam Bar.”

L.B. Foster Rail Technologies worked on the project with MPT, a joint venture of Laing O’Rourke, Thales and VolkerRail, on behalf of Transport for Greater Manchester. The project required two modified PROTECTOR® IV units, installed and commissioned by L.B. Foster, with a 15-month support package. The Trafford Park Metrolink line connects the Trafford Centre to the existing network.

Transport for Greater Manchester requested a cabinet design in keeping with the local urban environment. We developed a new cabinet design that offers a clean, street-friendly alternative to our standard PROTECTOR® IV. All cable and hose connections are made through the base of the cabinet. The system comprises all the standard PROTECTOR® IV components, with the addition of a new vibration sensor that can be adjusted on-site to suit the installation environment.

L.B. Foster Rail Technologies’ PROTECTOR® systems are sited on pavements or at road junctions for In-street applications and are enclosed in vandal-proof steel cabinets for security and protection. Distribution bars are placed below ground in steel enclosures, which are then embedded in the road. The distribution bars are accessible via the steel enclosure tops for routine maintenance and inspection. The in-street PROTECTOR® system provides a tamper-proof solution to rail friction management, whilst still providing road vehicles with an unobstructed route of travel through urban environments.

Mat Holland concludes: “It’s no secret that teamwork plays a central role in the success of Project Management; we had a small, strong, close-knit, focused and multi-disciplined team comprising of Engineering, Supply Chain, Operations, Applications, Account Management and Field Services, as well as Projects, who through a ‘belt and braces approach’ delivered this pioneering project “on-time in-full”.

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