Fast, automated technology will be used to cut the cost of extending Nottingham’s tram system.

An innovative new track laying system was among the winners of the 2011 Light Rail Awards in London last week. Alstom was awarded the Innovation of the Year Award for the benefits provided by Appitrack, its fast, automated method of laying tram and metro tracks that tackles infrastructure construction costs as well as disruption to local residents and businesses.

The system is similar to that used for building motorways or runways, allowing for limited excavation depths in order to speed up track laying time. It has the ability to lay up to 200 metres of track per day, compared with just 50-60 metres using conventional methods, and can therefore reduce project costs. As well as the high productivity rate, the system has low noise levels and is applicable to all types of track surfaces.

Alstom has used Appitrack in the tramway projects in Jerusalem, Reims, Algiers, and on the second line of the Orleans tramway that is due to enter service in 2012. It was in Orleans in March 2011 that Appitrack set a world track laying 403 metres of track laid in one day.

Alstom is part of the Tramlink Nottingham consortium, preferred bidder to provide the Nottingham tram extension project. As well as providing new Citadis trams, Alstom is to supply the track, power supply and signalling for the two new lines and intends to use Appitrack technology for up to 60% of the new track installation.

The process involves two machines: a slipform machine, which constructs the trackslab, and behind it an insertion machine, which automatically positions and inserts railseats, holding down bolts in fresh concrete. It is guided by an
on-board PC and communicates with a survey station post for high precision rail positioning.