The innovative new products helping to make  rail maintenance work safer

As HSE released its latest statistics for fatalities in the workplace, rail safety has come increasingly under the spotlight with 6,247 employee injuries recorded on UK's railways in the last 12 months alone. Of these, 158 suffered major injuries with another two employees being killed while carrying out maintenance on the network.

Working on the railways has always been a dangerous job, and safety is the number one concern for the companies operating and maintaining the network. Improving working conditions by reducing installation times through improved methods and techniques has been at the forefront of product design over the last few years. The latest innovations not only significantly condense the time spent on site, but have also substantially decreased the amount of manual handling required of heavy, cumbersome and awkward materials.

One company which has been leading the way with introducing products that deliver safer solutions for the rail sector is Scott Parnell. Working in partnership with Complete Composite Solutions, the business had a clear focus in mind – to provide revolutionary products that help keep workforces safe.

The innovative new products helping to make  rail maintenance work safer

Innovative system

The Network Rail-approved ArcoSystem is the only elevated troughing in the UK capable of supporting itself at 6 metres. Compared to traditional systems, which require posts every one and a half to two metres, the design of ArcoSystem means it dramatically reduces the number of post centres by up to 75%. As a result, workforces will spend significantly less time (up to 60%) installing the system and manually handling posts and postmix. The reduction in post centres also mitigates the risk of cable strike, which can occur during installations involving ground penetration.

ArcoSystem troughing is made of pultruded twin-wall fibre reinforced polymer (FRP). Durable yet lightweight, the overall weight of each six metre length is less than 36kg making it safe for two people to lift easily.

Sharon Rice, National Rail Manager at Scott Parnell, said:

"ArcoSystem has proven to be a really popular product. However, we haven't just sat back and relied on this for creating safer workplaces. We have also worked hard to implement installation techniques. Through reviewing the entire installation process, we have been able to identify areas for improvement and enhance these accordingly."


For every post foundation embedded in the ground, approximately 60kg of postmix is used, along with around 20 litres of water to mix it. This process, which has remained unchanged since elevated troughing was first introduced, is one which is almost always done manually, without the aid of machinery. This means it can have a considerable musculoskeletal impact on workers, especially those who are consistently installing trough systems day after day, shift after shift.

Techno-Crete, a new product launched earlier this year, has provided a solution to heavy manual handling associated with traditional postmix and water by significantly reducing the weight of product from 80kg to just 1.6kg.

For example, if a workforce were to install 1km of traditional two-metre span troughing then 30 tonnes of postmix would be needed to complete the job. By comparison, when using ArcoSystem six-metre span troughing, a 1km installation would only need one third of the number of posts, and therefore just 10 tonnes of postmix. However, if you were to install the same ArcoSystem project utilising Techno-Crete, just 267kg of product would be needed – a substantial reduction of 11,235%!

The benefits do not end there. Techno-Crete also has a curing time of just 20 minutes, making it even quicker for installation teams to complete projects thus enhancing safety further by reducing time on and revisits to site.

TouchSafe Palisade Fencing

Screening off electricity installation areas is a dangerous job. Therefore, palisade fencing needs to be quick and easy to install. Unique in its design, TouchSafe is supplied in fully-assembled panels, including gates, and contains no metal components. This makes it completely free of any risk from electrocution for installation teams.

Manufactured from fire retardant and weather resistant GRP, the absence of metal components also means there is no need for maintenance teams to earth bond the system resulting in speedier installation.

Sharon Rice, National Rail Manager at Scott Parnell Rail, added:

"We have spent a great deal of time researching the products we introduce and understanding precisely how they will impact maintenance and installation teams in a positive and productive way. It's our mission to create safer and better working environments for the industry and we are committed to continuing to explore this through innovative and thoughtful product design." 


About the author: Sharon Rice is National Rail Manager at Scott Parnell Rail. A division of Scott Parnell Ltd, it specialises in the supply of Network Rail-approved products for platform, trackside and signalling projects and maintenance. Scott Parnell prides itself on its innovative and pioneering approach to delivering high quality products from a variety of manufacturers – not just market leaders.

To get in touch with the rail team, please call 020 8805 5797 or complete our contact form.


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"I find Scott Parnell refreshingly different from most other suppliers, they're very reactive and always stride to provide me with a keen price and excellent service. I would recommend to anyone to give them a try - you will...
Dan Westlake - Aden Contracting

"I have been using Scott Parnell for over three years and in that time I have constantly found them to be efficient, proactive and able to provide added value support where required. Requests for quotations are turned around..."
Ian Ford - Volkerfitzpatrick Ltd

"We have traded with Scott Parnell for several years now and, as our business has grown, so have our needs. Scott Parnell have been able to manage this along the way without any trouble. Both communication and pricing have..."
Alan O'Grady - J Coffey Construction Ltd

"I'm confident when I place an enquiry and order with Scott Parnell I will be provided with extremely competitive rates, along with alternative options. The products will then be delivered in time and in full."
Kevin McSkimming - AD Bly Construction

"I have known Dave and Steve for a very long time so when they started this business I was more than pleased to support them. I feel having an independent option is invaluable as they bring different options to the table..."
Tim Scrivens - Coinford Ltd

Scott Parnell have consistently delivered a high quality product in a timely fashion for the Gospel Oak to Barking Enabling works over the last year. With some 10 miles of troughing to be upgraded in a mix of concrete and GRP...
J Murphy & Sons

As a supplier Scott Parnell has been second to none. All deliveries are on time and the turnaround time from order to receipt of goods is minimal, even last minute orders.
Principal Rail Contractor

Scott Parnell's GRP palisade fencing is unlike any other I have come across - it's totally free of metal components, which completely minimises the risk compared to other types of GRP palisade.
Ulana Fries - BCM


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Unit 1, Swanvale Estate, Colchester Road, Witham, Essex, CM8 3DH Tele: 01376 502676
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Unit 10, Hirwaun Industrial Estate, Aberdare, Wales, CF44 9UP Tele: 01685 708970
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