STAKKAbox ULTIMA, an access pit solution from Cubis Systems was tested by Amtrak for a commuter rail line application and found to be an extremely durable, customisable, and easy-to-install solution for protecting railway wiring components.

Project Challenges

Mass transportation systems, particularly commuter rail lines, rely on transit signal and communications functions to ensure both effectiveness and safety. The infrastructure that protects these critical components, therefore, needs to be robust and reliable.

Typically, heavy polymer concrete boxes are used along with cable trench and ducting to provide a protective system to coordinate transit signal and communication wiring. These polymer concrete boxes have traditionally been difficult to modify without compromising their strength. In addition, the covers are heavy to remove, and the concrete is susceptible to cracking.

Cubis Solution

The Amtrak Wilmington test yard conducted a test of a 1000mm x 1000mm x 1200mm STAKKAbox ULTIMA access pit with composite covers, provided by Oldcastle Infrastructure. The opening was designed to allow easy interface with the Plastibeton cable trench system.

The simple and straightforward installation over a mere 3 hours involved using an excavator to dig a hole in the ground. The excavator then lifted and set the completely assembled pit into the hole. (Note: Due to the layered design of the STAKKAbox ULTIMA, the pit could also be assembled directly in the hole, if necessary.) The area around the pit was backfilled, the frame was placed and screws were used to secure the composite covers to the frame.

“The Amtrak crew was extremely impressed with the strength and durability of the pit, along with how simple it is to install,” Oldcastle Infrastructure product manager Chris Schultz said.

The ULTIMA pit proved a durable and easy-to-configure solution due to the following outstanding characteristics:

  • The components and covers are lightweight, which assists with installation and provides easy access to cables in the future.
  • Openings for cable trench or ducting can be provided in advance or even cut onsite, without compromising strength and performance.
  • The layered design of ULTIMA means that rings can be added or removed to reach a customised final depth as required.
  • The Glass Reinforced Polyester Resin (GRP) components will not crack when placed close to vibrating rails.

Gold Standard Durability: The ‘Track Test’

To assess its reliability, the STAKKAbox ULTIMA pit was subjected to the ‘track test’. The maintenance crew made their best attempt to destroy the box to ensure that it would perform under extreme conditions during normal use.

The evaluation included the following rigorous measures:

  • Driving a fully loaded excavator over the pit
  • Placing the excavator stabiliser directly on the pit and moving the arm up and down so the entire excavator was ‘bouncing’ on the pit
  • Igniting CADWeld directly on the cover and pit sides, producing temperatures that exceeded 1400°C
  • Lifting and dropping an 380kg concrete rail tie directly on the pit from approximately 3m high

Following the test, the pit still met all form and function requirements and was left in a main maintenance way next to the rail. The Amtrak crew was extremely impressed with the strength and durability of the access pit, which was significant given the simplicity of its installation.