West Coast Mainline

It’s extremely beneficial for us to be able to complete the factory acceptance tests at Portastor, away from the live trackside site. It means the buildings arrive on location ready for rapid connection and final testing, significantly reducing the time, cost and risk associated with the trackside installation phase.


As part of its West Coast Mainline modernisation programme, Network Rail needed to provide upgraded 25KV switchgear substations to allow faster and more frequent trains to use the route. ABB was selected to supply the 11 containerised substations between Staffordshire and Cumbria, and needed to find a reliable provider of high-quality equipment housings that complied with the stringent requirements of Network Rail Standard 21030.
Portastor was chosen by ABB to provide the 11 modular buildings required to house substation equipment on this stretch of the line. These ranged from 8.5m-long single modules up to 30m-long double-module buildings. The largest building needed to house  39 panels of switchgear at Crewe.  An ABB spokesperson says: “We chose Portastor to supply all our switchgear housings for this project because we knew they could meet the strict requirements for Network Rail substations. The company has a strong track record of working to Network Rail standards and meeting the demands of major rail infrastructure projects. As a consequence, we knew they understood Network Rail’s working practices and operational demands, which is essential to ensure these large projects run smoothly.


40-year design life

To achieve a 40-year design life, Portastor maintains close control over the design and manufacturing of its buildings, which are fabricated in its state-of-the-art production facility. The robust, secure, all-steel buildings are finished with a long-life, threecoat paint system specially developed by Portastor to protect its buildings from corrosion. A fourth coat of anti-graffiti paint was applied to the ABB buildings to ensure they remained smart and untarnished for the long term.
The restricted width of the buildings meant that Portastor had to deliver a layout that optimised the interior floor space and enabled all the required switchgear and associated equipment to be installed safely and accessibly, based on ABB’s design.  For this project, Portastor installed all small-power electrics, heating and ventilation systems, and associated cable management ladders and trays, into its buildings. All of the client’s free-issue switchgear and control equipment was delivered to the Portastor site, to be mechanically and electrically installed by ABB’s own certified fitters, along with their associated cable management system. Portastor provided all the site facilities and storage space required by the ABB teams based on its site.
The relevant UK based factory acceptance tests were carried out by ABB at the Portastor site, initially overseen by Network Rail to ensure the required standards were achieved.

We had also worked with Portastor previously, so we knew they would collaborate closely with us and offer the flexibility required to adapt quickly to changing project priorities.

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