Steel giant aims to cash in on public spending boom by creating modular solutions for railway stations.
Anglo-Dutch steel giant Corus has launched a company to manufacture prefabricated railway platforms and other modular building systems.

The venture, called Corus Rail Modular Systems, is intended to capitalise on the government's planned upgrade of the UK's transport infrastructure.

Commercial manager Stephen Sydall said: "The modular market is set to grow rapidly, partly because of the spending on transport infrastructure announced in the 10-year transport plan."

Corus Rail is trying to sell the system to the Association of Train Operators and Railtrack. The main advantages of a modular approach, it claims, are reduced weight and foundation requirements, shorter construction time – so track possession time is reduced – and cost savings.

The prefabricated platforms can also be raised, lowered or extended to accommodate new models and types of train.

It is understood that Corus is investigating the possibility that modular systems could offer rail operators a 25% tax break, because they could be classed as temporary structures.

Sydall added that he was looking into tie-ups with rail contractors to offer one-stop-shop rail packages.

The decision to launch the firm follows Corus Rail's takeover of an established modular platform company, Raildeck Systems, earlier this year.

Raildeck Systems' modular platform was first trialed at Whitehall Station in Leeds two years ago. The platform system can accommodate uneven ground conditions and curved track arrangements.

Corus Rail will initially concentrate on making modular platforms, but intends to provide modular footbridges, car parks and retail outlets once it has established itself. Eventually, it plans to expand into other sectors, such as industrial loading bays.

The company is involved in the development of a modular car park for areas where rail passenger numbers are forecast to rise.

Corus plans to get financial backing to build these car parks for local authorities and Railtrack and then lease them back to them to recoup its investment.

Sydall said some train operators were considering satellite car parks outside town centres with shuttle services to stations.

Corus is also believed to be developing a modular footbridge in time to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act in 2004. This will consist of two vertical lift towers and a link section to help people cross from one platform to another.

The company will be officially launched at the Infrarail 2001 exhibition next month.