The 23-vehicle train will provide a complete electrification service as it moves along sections of track, completing everything from foundations and stanchions to installing and testing the overhead line equipment (OLE).
The system has been under development for three years and will make its debut on the Great Western main line electrification project in autumn 2013. More than £750m is to be spent upgrading the route, the largest amount since it was built.
The High Output Plant System, also known as a factory train, will work overnight and allows for the adjacent line to remain open, minimising disruption to passengers.
It will be able to electrify an average of 1.6km of track per night which is a significantly higher rate of construction than previously achievable. This will dramatically reduce the amount of time needed to complete construction, again reducing disruption and cost.
The train is being custom built by Windhoff Bahn- und Anlagentechnik GmbH, a supplier of specialist rail maintenance equipment.
Simon Kirby, Network Rail’s managing director for investment projects, said: “Electrification provides a faster, more reliable, greener and economic railway and is a key part of our plans to improve the network. The electrification train is an innovative piece of equipment which will deliver benefits to millions of passengers across the country.”
Network Rail major programme director Robbie Burns added: “This new train will allow Network Rail to electrify routes more quickly and economically while minimising as much as possible any disruption to passengers. The electrification train, which has been designed and developed by Network Rail, is revolutionary and will allow us to continue to transform the railway.”