Customer: A track renewals company specialising in replacing track panels and sleepers.


The lifting and moving of track panel slabs, of various and considerable weights and sizes, to limit the number of smaller slabs being moved and eliminating the need to build slabs trackside.


21 meter and 24 tonne capacity Lattice Type Two Part Innerwick Track Panel Lifting Beam manufactured by Arbil, with a total of 14 different lifting points, suitable for a variety of slab sizes and types. Comprehensive simulation tests to factor for a vast variety of lift loads also undertaken by Arbil. 


Fully-functioning unique lift beam that saves time, money and man hours when laying new tracks. Piece of mind that skilled engineers were used with industry leading validation tests undertaken.

Historically the railway network was the only means to transport freight goods; however as the road network developed throughout the 1960’s, traditional rail freight found itself with competition. The industry needed to act to streamline its operations, to offer both a competitively priced and timely alternative to road freight. The industry succeeded in doing this and since the mid-90’s the volume of freight carried on railways has increased sharply due to its increased reliability and economy. However to remain competitive new innovations and track routes need to be built and Arbil can create these innovative track build solutions... 

Arbil Limited deal with innovative solutions on a day to day basis, so when approached to engineer a solution to lay track panel slabs both the customer and Arbil itself were confident the solution could be fabricated in a timely yet detailed and accurate manner. Brian Timmington, Arbil’s Engineering Manager explains why a new piece of equipment was needed,

“We had been dealing with this customer for a number of years so they were familiar with our capabilities and expertise. I believe it was our expertise in not just the lifting and rail sectors, but more so our proven record in lifting innovations and manufacturing that secured us this job.’ Timmington continues,

‘Our customer had branched into playing a more pivotal role in developing the railway infrastructure network. At the time of approaching us, they were having to build and lay track panel slabs by the track side, which is not ideal due to not being able to work in a workshop with all the available tools and they would also be limited to the size of the slab they could build at anyone time. Another alternative would have been to build slabs in a workshop, however as they had no means to transport larger slabs trackside to lay them, it would mean they had to produce multiple smaller slabs and move them one by one. Both methods led or would lead to inefficiencies in man hours to complete a job and therefore increase the cost. Both would also be a more timely method meaning longer lead times on tracks being completed.”

After careful consideration the customer developed an idea for a lift beam based upon an upcoming track development. The track panel slabs to be used in this development were designed as if a substantial lift beam was to be used; therefore meaning each slab could increase in size, reducing the number of slabs and ‘pieces of the jigsaw’ to complete the track build. Timmington details the job,

“The customer approached us with their designs for the slab sizes and the beam type they believed could be fabricated for multiple slab lifts. The slabs to be lifted were primarily for crossings and turnouts, so the more complicated bits of track. These therefore included a variety of concrete bearers, rails and fixing points; meaning it made far more sense to produce these in a workshop and transport to the appropriate place by laying temporary tracks, as attempting to build slabs to this scale trackside simply wouldn’t work.’ Timmington goes on,

‘The beam was designed and fabricated in two parts, which join in the middle. As the beam was to be 21 meters in length, we needed to take into account the storage of it when not in use and this was why two 10.5 meter halves were decided upon. The beam was designed with 4 top lifting points due to its length, set at equal distances apart. Rail wagon cranes were to attach to each lifting point in order to enable it (and its load) to be transported along a track. The beam frame had multiple lifting points to attach the slabs to. The slabs were attached to the beam by lifting hoops running underneath and around the rails and shackling back to the beam. A total of 14 different lifting hoop combinations could be used to secure a multiple of slab sizes. The attached slabs would then be hooked up to the 4 cranes via the lift points on the beam and transported along temporary tracks to where they were to be laid, making a far simpler process.”

Along with providing the customer with a bespoke fabrication; Arbil also ran simulation tests on all of the slabs to be lifted by this beam, ensuring both measurements were accurate and the loads to be lifted safe. These tests showed where any stress factors on the beam may be and how the beam would react. Arbil’s tests included full FEA analysis to assist with the proof load testing.  All of the loads put forward were fully safe to lift with additional load jobs coming in over subsequent months as the beam was used in various other track build projects. Timmington concludes,

“As with all of Arbil’s fabrications; this beam was designed for longevity with numerous uses out in the field. It is always rewarding to see our fabrications making the development of something like the freight network continue to grow, with the work it has helped to achieve remaining for 10’s of years to come.”

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