Abacus Lighting

Lighting the way for railway refurbishments

Abacus Lighting is set to help Network Rail carry out a comprehensive refurbishment programme

Sutton In Ashfield, England: October 2007

The Government may have recently introduced its master plan for improving the UK’s network infrastructure but Abacus Lighting is set to help Network Rail carry out a comprehensive refurbishment programme of its own.

Base hinged columns on a railway platform

As part of an agenda to improve stations across the UK, Network Rail plans to replace a number of lighting columns which have served its customers for over 45 years. Back in 1962, Abacus Lighting, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of exterior lighting systems, developed their Base-Hinged Column specifically for the railway industry. These columns were subsequently installed in every British Rail station across the length and breadth of the UK.

The original Abacus columns were finished externally with a shot blast and metal spray to protect the exterior from corrosion - the industry norm at the time. However, as the interior remained untreated, the columns corroded over time from the inside out. Abacus has since developed a new, improved column which now has a galvanised finish that protects both the interior and exterior, giving an extended life - even longer than 45 years!

The Abacus Base-Hinged system provides safe and controlled lowering of the column via a spring, allowing essential maintenance work to be carried out at ground level. By the very nature of the environment, maintenance personnel were previously at risk when carrying out their duties using conventional ladders. Paul added: "The vortex created by speeding trains could effectively pull a man off the ladder and as higher-speed trains have been introduced, this problem could have been much worse. This system effectively removes that danger."

The 5/6 metre columns were originally developed in Mild Steel. However, with longevity and best practice becoming in vogue, the columns are now available in Aluminium and Stainless Steel. Other developments include the option of a flush door, which increases vandal resistance over a conventional overlap door and a universal hydraulic counterbalance unit which now fits all spring base-hinged columns.

This unit was designed specifically for Network Rail to simplify maintenance of the Base-Hinged Columns. The original columns were colour coded, dictating which type of counterbalance should be used when raising or lowering them. However, over time, the colour bands would be covered or worn away, making it difficult to identify the correct counterbalance needed an obvious health and safety risk to maintenance personnel.

Recent installations of the new columns include Evesham and both South and West Dorchester stations and more are planned at locations across the UK.

Lighting a railway platform at night
Raise and lower columns on a rail platform

To facilitate a trouble free installation, Abacus also designed a column carrier to safely and conveniently move the columns and guide them into position with the minimum of effort. And it’s not just railway platforms that benefit from Abacus’ design ingenuity.

Abacus’ Base-Hinged masts have been installed in many marshalling yards across the UK. These can be manufactured from 12 to 50 metres high and allow lowering of the mast by a hydraulic counterbalance, again, improving safety conditions for maintenance personnel.

The Abacus range of lighting columns has now been further developed to meet virtually every outdoor lighting requirement. Made from tubular steel, aluminium or cast iron, they are available in a wide range of designs and mounting heights suitable for a wide range of installations including sports facilities and stadiums, industrial areas and security lighting and roads and motorways.

In addition to world class manufacturing facilities, Abacus has the in house capability and expertise to design and install every aspect of its lighting systems from the ground up and maintain them throughout their lifecycle.

For maximum longevity, Abacus recommends an annual maintenance service be performed to ensure minimum degeneration and sustained lighting levels that will not diminish over time.

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