The order forms part of Network Rail’s modular switches and crossings programme, which will help engineers renew a set of points in overnight eight-hour shifts. It currently takes around 54 hours, which causes weekend line closures.
The aim of the programme is to do as much work as possible away from the railway to reduce line closures. Points will be fully constructed and tested in factories before being taken to site in modular panels which can be installed quickly.
The panels are usually too wide to fit within the confines of the railway. Kirow’s wagons can tilt their loads, allowing the panels to be safely transported directly to site. When the wagons arrive, the decks are moved back to a horizontal position for the panels to be unloaded and slotted into place.
Network Rail expects the first wagons to be fully tested and ready for use by the autumn of 2009, with the full fleet of 26 vehicles in operation in 2010.