NETWORK RAIL has ordered seven Stoneblower track geometry machines from American firm Harsco Rail.

The order calls for deliveries over two years starting in late 2019, and the new machines will enable existing Stoneblowers to be retired. The Stoneblower automates the traditional process for restoring track geometry by using pneumatic stone insertion below sleepers. Harsco says the latest generation units are equipped with a computerised measurement and design system and automatic stone metering system. The resulting track maintains the highest level of ballast compaction, ensures full linespeed handback, and maintains track geometry up to three times longer than equivalent tamping methods, thereby reducing track maintenance cycles and preserving the condition of the ballast and cross ties. Harsco will also provide a long-term parts agreement, maintaining availability for original equipment manufacturer spare parts and software support.

Existing Stoneblowers: Stephen Cornish and a stablemate at Horsham on 10 June 2017. In the background are the new Field sidings for stabling Thameslink Class 700s.
Henry Yuill