Vitrex, the Boksburg-based manufacturers of vitreous enamel steel cladding, has successfully completed the supply of over 2 000m² of Vitraclad heavy-gauge panels for Network Rail’s large-scaled redevelopment of one of the UK’s busiest stations, Reading Station in Berkshire, a facility that dates back to Victorian times.
Vitraclad vitreous enamel steel cladding produced by Vitrex in South Africa was specified for another railway station in the UK. The Boksburg-based company has successfully completed the supply – in three phases – of over 2 000m² of Vitraclad heavy-gauge panels for Network Rail’s large-scaled redevelopment of one of the UK’s busiest stations, Reading Station in Berkshire, a facility that dates back to Victorian times.
Cristian Cottino, sales and marketing director of Vitrex, says 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 which were 1 450mm wide, compared to the standard 1 200mm width.
“The Vitraclad panels serve as soffit cladding over the tracks and platforms at Reading Station. The order also called for 210 diameter cut-outs in the panels to accommodate luminaires. The colour of the enamel, slate grey, was specifically developed for this project,” Cottino explained.
Hochtief Construction UK and the Costain Group, in a joint venture, are handling the £850-million (R1,2-billion) Network Rail’s Reading Station Area Regeneration (RSAR) programme that includes the upgrading of this 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, the provision of two new large station entrances and a 30m-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 a 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 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 800ºC.
“The rationale for specifying Vitraclad vitreous enamelled steel cladding for Reading Station was the ease of cleaning of the enamel surface and the resistance of the enamel surface to diesel emissions. But the cladding also has many other benefits,” Cottino stated.
Some of the major advantages of vitreous enamel steel cladding include excellent weather ability; being resistant to high UV levels, salt sea air, hail and industrial pollutants; low maintenance; the wide variety of colours available are permanent, non-fading and the surface requires only simple, periodic maintenance. The panels do not rust, even in extreme marine conditions, and the coating is resistant to most alkalis, acids, organic solvents and is unaffected by kerosene.
Because of the absence of pores on the smooth, hard surface of the cladding, it is hygienic – eliminating absorption of dirt and grease, and reducing the presence and growth of bacteria and mould.
The hardwearing surface is also resistant to abrasive materials and will withstand the effects of wind-driven dust and dirt. It is vandal-proof and impact-resistant, making it extremely difficult to permanently mark the surface with knives, keys and screwdrivers. Unwanted graffiti and spray paint can easily be removed.
It is non-combustible – the panels will resist heat of up to 650ºC and continuous temperatures of up to 400ºC. Regarding thermal shock, it resists extreme temperature differentials and will withstand rapid cooling by water spray from 400ºC to room temperature over a 30-second period. The cladding is also vermin-proof, with a surface that is impervious to attack by rodents and boring insects.
For all acoustic and thermal insulation requirements, specific Vitraclad performance requirements can be addressed at the design stage. Finally, it is environmentally-friendly – the panels have a working life in excess of 30 years with minimum maintenance, do not require strong chemicals for cleaning and are fully recyclable.
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