Amtrak puts the Cubis STAKKAbox ULTIMA to the test


STAKKAbox ULTIMA, an access pit solution from Cubis Systems has been tested by Amtrak for a commuter train line application and has proven to be an extremely durable, customizable and easy to install solution for protecting railway wiring components .

Project challenges

Public transport systems, especially commuter train lines, rely on the signaling and communication functions of public transport to ensure both efficiency and safety. The infrastructure that protects these critical components must therefore be robust and reliable.

Typically, heavy polymer concrete enclosures are used with cable trenches and conduits to provide a protection system to coordinate transit signal and communication wiring. These polymer concrete crates have traditionally been difficult to modify without compromising their strength. In addition, the covers are heavy to remove and the concrete is susceptible to cracking.

Cubes Solution

The Amtrak Wilmington test yard tested a 1000mm x 1000mm x 1200mm STAKKAbox ULTIMA access pit with composite covers, supplied by Oldcastle Infrastructure. The opening has been designed to allow easy interface with the Plastibeton cable trench system.

The simple and straightforward installation in just 3 hours involved the use of an excavator to dig a hole in the ground. The shovel then lifted and placed the fully assembled pit in the hole. (Note: Due to the layered design of the STAKKAbox ULTIMA, the pit can also be assembled directly into the hole, if required.) The area around the pit has been backfilled, the frame has been placed and screws have been used to attach the composite covers to the frame.

“The Amtrak team were extremely impressed with the strength and durability of the pit, as well as the ease of installation,” said Chris Schultz, Product Manager for Oldcastle Infrastructure.

The ULTIMA pit has proven to be a durable and easy to configure solution due to the following outstanding features:

  • The components and covers are lightweight, which makes installation easier and provides easy access to cables in the future.
  • Openings for cable trenches or conduits can be pre-planned or even cut on site, without compromising strength and performance.
  • ULTIMA’s layered design means rings can be added or removed to achieve a custom final depth as needed.
  • Glass Reinforced Polyester Resin (GRP) components will not crack when placed near vibrating rails.

Benchmark sustainability: the “Track Test”

To assess its reliability, the STAKKAbox ULTIMA pit was subjected to the “track test”. The maintenance team did their best to destroy the box to make sure it would perform under extreme conditions during normal use.

The assessment included the following rigorous measures:

  • Drive a fully loaded excavator over the pit
  • Place the shovel stabilizer directly on the pit and move the arm up and down so that the whole shovel “bounces” on the pit.
  • CADWeld ignition directly on the cover and sides of the pit, producing temperatures above 1400 ° C
  • Lifting and releasing a 380 kg concrete sleeper directly on the pit to a height of approximately 3 m

As a result of the test, the pit still met all form and function requirements and was left in a main maintenance track beside the rail. The Amtrak team were extremely impressed with the strength and durability of the access pit, which was important given the simplicity of its installation.


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