GCF Superstructures, Renewal

Railway superstructures: Renewal

Our experience

Track renewal and ballast cleaning operations are the core business of GCF S.p.A.

We finalised operational and organisational methods in the course of renewal work on Italian railway sites that helped maximize efficiency and productivity.

In Italy, limited times (3-4 hours a day), work schedules generally at night and stringent regulatory requirements were a perfect training ground for constant improvement.

Today, GCF S.p.A. operates in Italy and abroad in all kinds of railway site requiring renewal or ballast cleaning where speed of execution and the least possible impact on freight and passenger traffic are mandatory requirements for clients.

Our competitive edge

  • Innovative methods.
  • Qualification: exceptionally high specialisation and organisation of human resources.
  • Efficiency: extensive fleet of machines, unique of its kind in Europe.
  • Performance: quality and speed of execution.

Track renewal

Replacements of the entire railway line superstructure (rails and sleepers) - during traffic interruption - were performed at a production rate of more than 1,100 metres/h.

Modular organisation of site teams, with up to 100 highly skilled and specialised operators, innovative work methods (some, such as GOP12A finalised specifically to produce the highly efficient tasks required by the French Railways, SNCF) and the fleet of high-performance machines (6 renewal trains - Matisa P95, Matisa P90 and Matisa P811) are the hallmarks of GCF’s intervention.

Railbed ballast cleaning

Renewal tasks often take place alongside ballast cleaning operations: this entails either the total replacement of the crushed stone or screening designed to separate the earthy material and irregular rubble, followed by re-arranging existing and fresh crushed stone.

GCF S.p.A. achieves this with a fleet of 6 high-performance ballast cleaners -Matisa C75, Matisa C90 and Matisa C411 capable of handling up to 1,000 cubic metres of material removed per hour.


Plovdiv-Burgas line, BulgariaPlovdiv-Burgas line, Bulgaria

Renewal: Plovdiv-Burgas line, Bulgaria

The Plovdiv-Burgas railway line is part of the Corridor VIII of the Trans-European rail network. It is electrified for a total length of 292 km of which 139 km single track and 153 km double track. The design speed of this railway line varies between 80 and 100 km/h. The entire line is equipped with an ETCS type Level 1 Automatic Train Protection System.

The renewal project was officially launched in September 2011 and is now nearing completion. It envisaged upgrading the line and modifying curve radii to adapt it to speeds of up to 160 km/h, in accordance with European Union standards for the Trans-European transport network.

In addition to managing the operational project, work was carried out on infrastructures (superstructure and substructure) with complete replacement of rails, sleepers and points, as well as on the catenary overhead contact line, sectioning and signalling and signalling-telecommunication systems. Additionally, 19 stations and stops were also modernised through various civil works.
The completion of the final tests and commissioning is scheduled for December 2016.

Plovdiv-Burgas line: objectives achieved

•    Speed increased up to 160 km/h;
•    Quality improvement of the freight transport system in Bulgaria, lower railway infrastructure maintenance costs and more business opportunities associated with rail transport;
•    Reduction of travelling time and better safety conditions;
•    Improvement of ecological conditions in the project area;
•    Creation of new jobs in the project area, including people employed directly and indirectly in construction work.


SNCF, Suite rapide - Lot 2, FranceSNCF, Suite rapide - Lot 2, France

Renewal: Suite rapide - Lot 2, France

SNCF’s objective with its three “suite rapide" lots defined as of 2013 is to renew at least 550 kilometres per year of old railway lines as quickly as possible, while interfering as little as possible with passenger and freight traffic.

Starting in 2013, GCF - via the Transalp Consortium of which it is majority shareholder - set in motion the renewal sites in the 12 areas envisaged by Lot 2, involving the complete renewal of old railway lines.

Suite rapide: characteristics of the work

The speed of execution (more than 1,000 m of line per night), special emphasis on reducing environmental impact, the use of innovative operating procedures (the GOP12A method), as well as high-performance machines and more than 250 highly-specialised technicians were the salient features of GCF’s intervention.

Over the three years of the “suite rapide”, the new 25 cm high bed of crushed stone saw 1,180 km of new tracks laid and more than one million new concrete sleepers.

The outcome of the "rapid suite" project was an improvement in the practicability of the old lines in question to speeds of 140 km/h, as well as better comfort for passengers.


Sarajevo-Bradina line, BosniaSarajevo-Bradina line, Bosnia

Renewal: Sarajevo-Bradina line, Bosnia

Site open since January 2015.

This project involves the entire Sarajevo-Bradina section on the Corridor V link between Sarajevo and Mostar.

Sarajevo-Bradina: the project

The executive project envisages the complete replacement of rails, sleepers and points, as well as the reclamation and restructuring of 19 bridges and 17 underpasses, ramps and other minor civil works.

The complete reconstruction of the OCL (Overhead Contact Line) is also envisaged along the entire route, in addition to civil and superstructure works in the Ivan Tunnel (3.2 km long).

The completion of these tasks is set for April 2016.


Tangier-Marrakech line, MoroccoTangier-Marrakech line, Morocco

Renewal: Tangier-Marrakech line, Morocco

Morocco’s railway network is one of the most developed in Africa. Existing infrastructures include 2,067 km of tracks, of which 1,022 km electrified, but only 578 km is double track.

ONCF - the public company that manages the Moroccan Railways - recently launched two major projects for the construction of two high-speed lines for French-built TGVs.

Tangier-Marrakech: our site

GCF is working on the Ligne Atlantique - linking Tangier and Agadir by way of Kenitra, Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech - on renewal projects for the existing line with complete replacement of rails, sleepers and ballast, and the construction of the new OCL line signalling systems.

The upgraded Tangier-Casablanca line will be operational by 2018.


National network, ItalyNational network, Italy

Renewal: national network, Italy

Renewal and ballast cleaning sites along the Italian railway network are the daily training ground for GCF S.p.A.

We have operated for several decades in RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, Italian Railway Network) Compartments, especially in the Centre-North of the country, ensuring maximum efficiency, speed of execution and minimal impact on freight and passenger traffic.

Organization of site teams and the availability of high-performance machines for renewal work (6 renewal trains type Matisa P95, Matisa P90 e Matisa P811) as well as ballast cleaning operations (6 ballast cleaners ensuing high-performance type Matisa C75, Matisa C90 and Matisa C411) are the hallmarks of GCF S.p.A.

GCF, on site

Line renewal