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Birmingham network shines as Summer Lane makeover is complete

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The redevelopment of Birmingham’s old Summer Lane depot to an upgraded primary substation site has now successfully reached completion.

Jointers Jamie Westwood (left) and Francis Smith (right) look at some of the new cable installed on the racking system.

The upgrade has increased the capacity of the Summer Lane and neighbouring Hockley group, which supports much of Birmingham’s city centre, by 60MVA - a network that should be fit for purpose for the next 60 years.

Around 7km of cable has been installed and transferred to the new 11kV switchboards on a purpose-built ladder racking system, connecting the old cable from the road to the new 27 circuits.

The final old transformer was removed in October, with the old 11kV switchboard consisting of over 70 11kV circuit breakers, being decommissioned. 

The site prior to this year housed a depot and a very large substation with six separate switch rooms, with 11kV feeder cables exiting the building through a purpose built tunnel into the public highway. This tunnel is heavily lined with asbestos which meant making use of the existing route was not viable and an alternative solution was required, as Birmingham City Team Manager Lee Harrison explained.

“Because of the amount of cable coming from the substation, we had to create a new exit point and dig the final joint position which required a joint hole some 30m long, 10m wide and 5m deep. Specialist shoring equipment was designed and installed with a hefty steel beams to hold back the walls of the joint hole.”