The electrification programme, established in 2010 and significantly extended in the 2012 High Level Output Specification (HLOS), is one of the most significant railway investments in decades. UK government will invest around £9.4bn in a rolling electrification programme across the country.
Overhead electrification is a mature and well understood technology. However, it is believed that there is an opportunity to harness innovation as part of the electrification programme, to reduce costs in the overall investment programme, improve operating efficiencies and solve issues around the aesthetics of overhead line structures.
As part of the electrification programme, overhead line structures will need to be installed. For some parts of the network current overhead line structures may be considered 'ugly' and/or obtrusive in certain contexts in particular when passing through areas of outstanding natural beauty, conservation areas or residential areas. This is of particular importance for certain parts of the planned HS2 route for example the Colne Valley Viaduct.
A solution for this issue is an aesthetically pleasing overhead line structure design, which is more visibly appealing to line side neighbours. Historically, more aesthetic structures have cost significantly more to build and deploy because existing structures have been designed to specifically minimise the installation and deployment costs.
The design of current electrification structures is a complex issue but the general issues are outlined in EN 50119 2009+A1 2013 Electric traction overhead contact lines.
Recent designs used in the UK for high speed rail have the following high level elements for the mechanical performance of a single track cantilever:
Cross sectional diagrams of several structures can be downloaded below - UPDATED 20 January 2014
The challenge is therefore, to design Overhead Line Structures that are more aesthetically pleasing in the context of areas of the HS2 route which will impact on areas of natural beauty, conservation areas or residential areas and in particular viaducts and embankments. These designs should in principal be able to support the loads outlined in the technical specification above and if appropriate materials other than steel can be considered i.e. lighter and/or more sustainable.
The competition is open to architects, engineers, designers, single companies, organisations from private or public sector, or collaborations who will be capable of designing such structures.
The competition will run in two phases:
Developments will be 100% funded and suppliers for each project will be selected by an open competition process and retain the intellectual property rights (IPR) generated from the project, with certain rights of use retained by the EIT.
Whilst not absolutely necessary for the initial application, applicants should consider how they will deliver Stage 2 of the competition if they are successful.
The competition is being administered by RIBA Competitions, to whom any enquiries relating to the general conditions of this competition should be addressed.