Vitraclad vitreous enamel steel cladding produced by Vitrex in South Africa was specified for another railway station in the UK. The Boksburg-based company was contracted to supply - in three phases - over 2 000 sq m of Vitraclad heavy gauge panels for Network Rail's large-scaled redevelopment of one of the UK's busiest stations, Reading Station in Berkshire.
The initial phase of the contract had to be supplied and installed prior to the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, and involved the production of custom-made cladding panels 1 450 mm wide, compared to the standard 1 200 mm width. The Vitraclad panels serve as soffit cladding over the tracks and platforms at Reading Station. The order also called for 210 mm diameter cut-outs in the panels to accommodate luminaires. The colour of the enamel, Slate Grey, was specifically developed for this project. The final phase of the contract was completed earlier this year.
Hochtief Construction UK and the Costain Group, in a Joint Venture, are handling the 850 million British Pounds Network Rail's Reading Station Area Regeneration (RSAR) programme that includes the upgrading of the historic station as well as remodelling of the track and signalling system to cater for predicted passenger numbers up to the year 2035. The work involves the reconstruction of the station platforms, provision of two new large station entrances, and a 30 m wide passenger transfer deck. On completion of the contract, Reading Station will have 15 platforms to serve "untangled" railway lines, improved speeds for the trains, as well as substantial reduction in delays.
Internationally-renowned Grimshaw Architects specified Vitraclad in their design of the RSAR with the cladding installation handled by Astec Projects Limited. The Vitraclad order for Reading Station - which dates back to Victorian times - was secured by David Shepherd of Vitrex Europe & Middle East.
Vitrex's Vitraclad cladding has in recent years been exported for many UK contracts including London Underground stations as well as Irish Rail stations.
Vitraclad panels are produced by Vitrex at its Jet Park plant through the fusing of an inorganic coating consisting of glass, oxides and various minerals to sheet steel at temperatures of over 800 degrees Celsius.
The main rationale for specifying Vitraclad vitreous enamel steel cladding for Reading Station was the ease of cleaning of the enamel surface and resistance of the enamel surface to diesel emissions.