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Seal of approval 

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ABB’s Structure Mounted Outdoor Switchgear (SMOS) Light switchgear has received full approval from Network Rail following a stringent five-year review process. 

As a family of switchgear for rail traction substations, SMOS Light features nine standard modules that can be built up to create any configuration used on the UK’s rail network.

Approval under Network Rail’s Parts and Drawings System (PADS) means that engineers, consultants and contractors can now integrate SMOS Light throughout the UK. Only products and systems that have achieved PADS approval may be installed on Network Rail’s infrastructure.

The modular approach means that the switchgear offers significant benefits to Network Rail’s operators, project managers and construction engineers.

Creating certainty for major programmes, it also saves money and time during projects, enabling faster delivery and demonstrating value-for-money for passengers and stakeholders.

SMOS Light has already been adopted under trial certificates for the Great Western, Gospel Oak to Barking, and Crossrail projects as well as on the test track at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe manufacturing site. 

ABB has supplied a total of 354 units and the switchgear is already in operation at 18 Network Rail substations. In addition, Network Rail has given ABB permission to demonstrate the switchgear at the Dr Days substation near Bristol Temple Meads station.

Martin Henry, ABB’s project manager said, “ABB has worked hand in glove with Network Rail on the design of SMOS Light since 2013 due to its potential to enhance value-for-money for rail passengers.” 

“Having been deployed on a number of key UK lines the switchgear is already proven on the network. Achieving full PADS approval is a win-win for Network Rail and ABB as it offers the benefits of safer and faster delivery and lower prices.”

The standardised modular approach is a significant departure from Network Rail’s previous design philosophy for traction substations.

As a result, the operator set strict criteria, significant test periods and exacting requirements during multiple ‘design gates’ over the five-year project to give full confidence in the nine modules when applied separately and in combination.

The nine modules integrate circuit breakers, disconnectors, earthing switches and load break switches in pre-approved arrangements to serve incoming feeders, outgoing track feeders, bus sections and autotransformer feeders. 

Speaking about the modular design of SMOS Light, James Ashley-Clarke of Network Rail’s Electrification and Plant Design group said, “Because SMOS Light is a palletised system, it’s customisable to Network Rail’s needs.”

The switchgear is manufactured, assembled and factory tested as pallets at ABB’s rail centre of excellence in Switzerland, meaning that it can be installed on a plug-and-play basis. 


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