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More than 2,000km long and costing over $2.8bn, Saudi Arabia’s North-South Railway (NSR) marks a significant development in ground transportation in the Kingdom. Scheduled for full operation in 2013, NSR will provide the first ever passenger and freight connection between Riyadh and the Jordanian border in the north.

The Saudi Railway Company (SAR) is overseeing the scheme and the project includes the largest single implementation of the European Train Control System (ETCS) anywhere in the world.

Thales and Saudi Binladin Group are working together to deliver a comprehensive technology and integration package, which includes telecommunications, security and advanced signalling. In order to ensure effective communication for sites along the route, Thales is installing a backbone infrastructure consisting of multi-loose tube fibre optic cabling from Brand-Rex, which is installed using high pressure compressed air blowing technology to ensure the seamless integration of all systems and services.

Thales Portugal is responsible for the project’s telecommunications package. Paulo Silva, Thales Portugal’s programme manager for this project, comments, ‘We chose Brand-Rex after a thorough assessment and valuation of the fibre optic cable currently available on the market. As Brand-Rex is specialist in blown fibre technology, Thales decided that this would offer the maximum installation efficiency required.’

In total, almost 2,500km of 18, 24 and 36 fibre single mode cables will be installed along the railway track itself. The cables are constructed using loose tube technology that gives the cables a high tensile strength and the ability to protect the fibre as it is installed in the extreme desert environment.

The centre of the cable contains a non-metallic strength member, around which are stranded a number of fibre filled tubes, over which there is a layer of water blocking tape and then a layer of glass yarn. This provides additional tensile strength and non-metallic rodent protection, while being particularly suitable for the blowing process. Finally, there is an overall polyethylene sheath that provides further protection from the environment.

The cable is blown into a 30mm bore sub duct using compressed air, a method that is flexible and cost effective. Silva explains, ‘The distance from manhole to manhole is 2km and these lengths have been installed in one go. This is a challenge in itself, however, Brand-Rex has been tremendously supportive and has provided us with all the guidance and expertise we need to ensure successful implementation.’

The project is almost halfway to being completed with just over 1,400km of fibre cable having been installed so far. The installation has gone incredibly smoothly and Thales is already looking to install Brand-Rex fibre cables within other projects it is working on.

Paul Lines, Brand-Rex CEO, adds, ‘We are delighted to be working with Thales Portugal on this incredible project. It is our largest ever fibre cable project and the fact that our products have been selected is testament to their quality, strength and excellence.’
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ABOUT BRAND-REX
Brand-Rex Ltd is a global operation, designing, developing and manufacturing the most sophisticated, high performance copper and fibre cabling systems for communications and extreme environment applications. Headquartered in Scotland, the company is committed to being a trusted market leading provider of best-in-class communication infrastructure solutions that are truly ‘future proof’. For more information visit www.brand-rex.com
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