S.A.-produced vitreous enamel steel cladding for Merseyrail Stations upgrade

by Darren
SA produced vitreous enamel.JPG

Vitreous enamel steel cladding supplied by South African producer, Vitrex, has been extensively used for the refurbishment of three major Liverpool Underground stations as part of a R650 million overhaul of the Merseyrail loop line.

Vitraclad was used at Liverpool Central, Lime Street, and James Street stations, after the order was secured by David Shepherd of Vitrex Europe and Middle East.

Cristian Cottino, Sales & Marketing Director of Vitrex in Boksburg, says the contract called for a total of about 2 500 m2 of ‘Singapore White” and “Slate Grey” heavy gauge panels, which included curved units with acoustic linings for the platforms. The “Slate Grey” panels were used to clad the adits linking the passages to the platforms.  

Cottino says there were some interesting challenges contained in the contract. “A technical constraint on the panel design arose out of a value engineering exercise which called for the existing substructure to be re-used, thereby setting limitation on the panel depth and the fixing points. The existing cladding linings had to be stringently maintained, as well as the interface points with, for example, the lift openings,” he explained.

He adds that vitreous (“porcelain”) enamel steel cladding exhibits specific properties that make it the ideal solution in terms of durability, particularly in high traffic areas such as underground stations:

  • Low maintenance: The wide variety of colours available are permanent, non-fading and the surface requires only simple, periodic maintenance;
  • Corrosion proof: The panels do not rust, even in extreme marine conditions. The coating is resistant to most alkalis, acids, organic solvents and is unaffected by kerosene;
  • Hygienic: The absence of pores on the smooth, hard surface eliminates absorption of dirt and grease, and reduces the presence and growth of bacteria and mould;
  • Resistance to abrasion: The hardwearing surface is resistant to abrasive materials with a surface hardness rating of between 6 and 7 on the MOH scale (Quarts has a rating of 7).
  • Vandal-proof and impact resistant: It is extremely difficult to permanently mark the surface with knives, keys and screwdrivers. Unwanted graffiti and spray paint can easily be removed;
  • Non-combustible: The panels will resist heat of up to 650 degrees Celsius and continuous temperatures of up to 400 degrees C;
  • Thermal shock: Resists extreme temperature differentials and will withstand rapid cooling by water spray from 400 degrees C to room temperature over a 30-second period;
  • Vermin-proof: The surface is impervious to attack by rodents and boring insects;
  • Acoustic and thermal insulation: Specific performance requirements can be addressed at the design stage.
  • 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.

Vitraclad panels have been widely exported by Vitrex over the years, particularly for installations at rail stations in the UK and Far East.

Liverpool Station – the first of the three Merseyrail stations to be refurbished – is one of the busiest underground stations outside London and carries around 18 million passengers per year.  The upgrade – which is the first significant revamp of the station in 35 years – called for the refurbishment of the platform and passageway areas, including new ceiling and wall cladding, new natural lighting, seating, and flooring tiles. Separate, staggered entrances and exit barriers have been provided to avoid congestion in the ‘lighter and brighter’ station which now also features a clear gazed roof and glass external walls.

The refurbishment of the James Street station – originally opened in 1886 and one of the oldest deep level underground stations in the world – unearthed historic advertising posters dating back more than 50 years. The Lime Street station upgrade was confined to the lower level platform.

Two other stations forming part of the Merseyrail Liverpool network, Hamilton Square and Moorfields, are also scheduled for upgrading in early 2014 and Cottino says Vitrex remains hopeful of securing the contract for the enamel steel cladding panels for these additional projects.

The Architects for the refurbishment programme of stations are Capita Symonds, the main contractor on the first three stations was Morgan Sindall; and Reading-based SAS International’s Project Management division, designed, supplied and installed the full spectrum of architectural metalwork solutions.

Issued for Vitrex, Jet Park / Further info: Cristian Cottino, tel 011 826 6057 / www.vitrex.co.za

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