POWER SUPPLY: The Problems Of Power Thievery
Recent Western Cape Business News
ACTOM Signalling successfully completed a major signalling contract in Cape Town‘s Khayelitsha township recently in the face of difficulties that included illegal power connections and cable damage, which caused setbacks in the installation of the signalling systems along some sections of the line.
“Just at the point when we were ready to commission the equipment, the illegal power connections caused fault currents on the railway line, causing our track circuit equipment to burn out, which we then had to replace,” says Gerrie Coetzer, the company’s contracts manager, who project managed the contract.
“SARCC Metrorail officials had to sit with representatives of the local community to persuade them to temporarily disconnect unlawful power connections so that we could connect and commission the equipment.”
“Even during installation we had to cut the illegal lines to do trenching and rejoin them again afterwards. Additional problems arose over employment of local labour. We arranged to employ local people through negotiations with a liaison person representing the community, but this didn’t satisfy some people who on several occasions cut our cables to try and force us to employ them. We then had to take the matter up with the community liaison person to resolve. We also had to take special measures to protect our stocks to avoid repeat incidents of this sort.”
The R17 million contract, on the Cape Town-Philippi-Khayelitsha line, involved design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of interlocking, track circuits and remote control systems and points machines for a 4 km extension of the line from the existing Khayelitsha station, which previously marked the end of the line, to two new stations, Kuasa and Chris Hani, the new terminal station. This consisted of installation of Jeumont track circuits identical to those already in place and installation of AC points machines at Chris Hani station, and extension of the S2 remote control system between the stations and the Windermere CTC.
At the Windermere CTC, ACTOM Signalling extended the mimic panel and control desk and installed electronics to provide links to the communication channel – covering train routing, signal passed at danger detection and data capture and logging.
The contract also included design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of additional tracks and points sets at Khayelitsha station. This involved installing a new HR92 interlocking system and linking it up to the existing Spoorplan Mark Ib interlocking system and installation of DC points machines at Khayelitsha station to match the points machines already operating there.
Another contract that ACTOM Signalling completed recently was a R5.7 million contract for Transnet Freight Rail at Eersterivier station on the Bellville-Blackheath-Stellenbosch line, where the company had to immunise existing signalling equipment against interference from AC electrification of 132 kV power lines running alongside the railway line.
This fast-track contract, started in late-2007 and completed in August last year, involved:
• Replacing the installed Jeumont track circuits with jointless and jointed ML63 track circuit equipment
• Cutting and repeating the existing feeds to the signalling equipment
• Installing Thales axle-counters between Lynedoch and Faure stations on either side of Eersterivier station.
“It was a tough undertaking meeting the deadline, which was aggravated particularly by heavy flooding during part of that period, which meant working in continuously pouring rain over a seven-day stretch,” Coetzer says.
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