Needham Market is first train station in the world to install ground breaking award winning composite platform

Needham Market Train Station in Suffolk has become the first station in the world to implement a new patented composite fibreglass platform system solution known as Dura Platform. The radical award-winning design is a precision engineered product manufactured by pultrusion process which complies with National Rail specifications and offers significant improvements over traditional alternatives – including a dramatic reduction in possession time and sizeable overall project cost savings.

The Dura Platform replaced the previous concrete platform at Needham Market and was installed in just 36 hours by long-time expert platform installation partner Hammond (ECS) Ltd, who acted as the principal contractor to Network Rail. The product has been described as “game changing” by industry insiders and won ‘Best new Track or Infrastructure Product’ at last night’s prestigious Railtex Industry Awards.

With rail services said to increase economic output by up to £10.2 billionn each year by moving congestion off the roads and aiding productivity, station and rail operators have long been in need of a solution for platform repairs and upgrades that minimises both overall cost and crucially minimises disruption to passengers.

Network Rail, Abellio Greater Anglia and Hammond (ECS) took a forward thinking approach in selecting Dura Platform, which is not only adjustable to suit rolling stock, but also has a design life in excess of 50 years and optionally can be heated to melt frost and snow and keep platforms open during extreme weather. The composite fibreglass solution has a modular lightweight structure and is easy to install, meaning shorter possession time and a vast reduction in plant required on track. The product can even be specified with integral LED lighting to provide additional safety at the track edge.

Commenting on the installation at Needham Market, company director Stuart Burns explained:

“We are delighted with the feedback we’ve had from the installation at Needham Market and with our recent award win. It’s already clear that Dura Platform offers huge benefits to the installer, the station operator and the end user and will prove to be the smart choice for the future where existing platforms have reached the end of their design life. Britain was the nation that pioneered the railways almost 200 years ago and the system remains central to life in this country, so it’s great to be able to contribute to keeping Britain moving by reducing passenger disruptions. We strongly believe that composite material technology will transform the way upgrades like these are implemented and we look forward to bringing more pioneering products to market.”

Dura Platform is suitable for both concrete platform replacement projects such as Needham Market, and also for overlay projects where achieving the correct stepping distance between the train and the platform is of paramount importance to ensure passenger safety. The pultruded platforms come in 40mm and 100mm thicknesses providing clear spans of up to a huge 3.4m and thereby reducing the substructure work and associated materials required for extensions, replacements or new builds. Both products are available in a range of surface finishes to match existing surroundings and have an anti-slip surface which is crankable to allow easy water drainage.

As well as the innovative world first Dura Platform, Dura Composites also supplies a range of other pioneering composite products to the rail industry – including composite bridge walkway grating, handrailing and cladding solutions, and a ballast retention system for allowing the easy inspection of hidden critical elements. These flexible and innovative solutions are set to help the company achieve a phenomenal £10m jump in turnover by 2017.