Network Rail's latest acquisition, the HOBCS 5 High Output Ballast Cleaning System no. 5, has been completed: The USP 6000 ballast profiling machine was the last machine from the package to be delivered to England in December 2016. The tight schedule could be met.
The entire HOBCS 5 is currently being prepared in the "Rail Innovation and Development Centre" RIDC Tuxford (High Marnham) for its first operations in the spring of 2017. The RIDC Tuxford develops and tests rail vehicles, technology and equipment. Except for the USP 6000, all machines of the HOBCS 5 have been approved by the competent authority by 13th December 2016. Now the machines are being commissioned. As soon as the ballast profiling machine has been approved, the system will be put into normal operation.
As of January, the new ballast cleaning system will be stationed gradually in Tauton, close to Bristol. In the first three months, it will be used on conventional tracks to allow the operators to gain experience with the machines. Then, the machine system will head towards its actual destination in the south of London: tracks with power rails.