AUS produces life-saving footbridge for rail crossings

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Made in Yorkshire member AUS has designed and developed a life-saving footbridge for rail crossings in partnership with the University of Huddersfield. The innovative product has been designed to replace level crossings for pedestrians. 

The Huddersfield based specialist supplier AUS Ltd was founded in 1998, working with numerous industries across the UK including electricity distribution and transmission, rail, utility arboricultural and more. 

AUS Ltd has worked closely with Huddersfield University for 4 years, including taking on an engineering graduate who spent three years as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). In their most recent collaborations, the pair teamed up to design and produce an easy to assemble and more efficient footbridge than a traditional steel one. 

The project to develop the footbridge was funded by a grant from the Department of Transport’s First of a Kind competition (FOAK), administered by the national innovation agency Innovate UK. AUS also received a grant to develop a new type of clamp assembly made of aluminium bronze, a low-cost solution to maintaining overhead electric wires with less disruption to train services. The two grants together were worth £721000.

Simon Gibson, Managing Director of AUS said:

“Only 25 grants were awarded by FOAK across the whole country, so for our company to have two projects funded is exceptional,”

“Our reputation with Network Rail has gone up and up in the past three and a half years and has been enhanced by our links with the University,” he continues. “This has led to relationships with the Department of Transport and Innovate UK, and as a direct result, we received the two successful First of a Kind Awards.”

The first footbridge will be installed at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre at Long Marston in March 2021. Network Rail will be overseeing the installation as Principal Contractor and will use the QRTC test track to optimise the installation process before moving to a live rail environment. NWR and HS2 are both supporting the project and providing input throughout the nine-month project, which began in July 2020.

In the UK, the rail network is one of the busiest in the world and many level crossings date back to around 180 years ago, where there were fewer and slower trains. In the last 10 years, network rail has closed more than 1,000 level crossings and brought in many new safety measures. However, more than 3,000 of its level and pedestrian crossings have been identified as having safety issues, and the new footbridge could potentially be installed at 1,000 of these.


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