Under the contract, Balfour Beatty will maintain and operate Network Rail’s 14 Stoneblowers, which use compressed air to inject small stones under the sleepers, filling the voids and stabilising track.
The contract is expected to deliver a minimum of 2,800 maintenance shifts per year across the UK rail network. There is an option to extend for an additional year.
The current Stoneblower fleet consists of 11 plain line machines allocated to specific geographical areas throughout the UK rail network and three multi-purpose machines, which operate across all areas of the network.
In 2017 Network Rail placed an order with US manufacturer Harsco Rail for seven more multi-purpose machines to replace the aging plain line fleet. These are expected to be delivered during the term of the contract, with the first one entering service in 2020. Balfour Beatty will be responsible for the crews required to operate the new multi-purpose machines
Balfour Beatty will also assist Network Rail and Harsco with the commissioning of the new machines.
Mark Bullock, managing director of Balfour Beatty’s rail business, said: “The award of this contract to maintain and operate Network Rail’s fleet of Stoneblowers demonstrates the technical rail expertise Balfour Beatty has gained over many generations of working on the railway. The contract is an exciting one for us as it not only includes the operation and maintenance of the current fleet, but also the introduction of seven new multi-purpose machines.”