This article summarises some of the work Neale Consulting Engineers have completed for the Railway Industry.

Escalator Chain Design and Development

London’s metro infrastructure depends on the reliability of its numerous high rise escalators, which in recent years were experiencing unacceptably short lives of their main chains. This was resulting in excessive break down and outage of escalators causing passenger inconvenience and also a potential safety hazard.

Neale Consulting Engineers investigated this high profile problem and developed new chain designs. Testing and evaluation was co-ordinated by Neale Consulting Engineers, and all replacement chains have so far proven to be highly reliable. Additionally, the chains operate with considerably less lubrication than previously, which represents a major cost saving and improves fire safety. This solution has also been adopted by several metros around the world.

Lifting and Slewing Mechanism

Jamming of a lifting and slewing mechanism was causing problems on a 400 tonne railway bridge.  Neale Consulting Engineers investigated the problem and identified internal design defects in the planetary screw jack lifting mechanism, combined with over-stressing of the materials selected. It was recommended that the mechanism was completely changed.

Lubrication and Materials Selection – Escalator Step Chains

Programme of testing to identify an escalator step chain lubricant of low flammability. Endurance testing was also carried out on non lubricated bushes and also testing under abrasive contamination to simulate real escalator operation.

The programme resulted in a durable low maintenance fire resistant solution, which also can be applied to other chains, e.g. conveyors, transmissions etc.

Escalator Failures

A UK metro system was experiencing poor availability of a batch of 6 new escalators which were supplied, installed and maintained by the equipment manufacturer.

Neale Consulting Engineers investigated aspects of the escalator design and installation and identified the primary causes of failures and breakdowns. The independent report was used by both sides as a basis for arbitration.