Whole life cost
Of course, at first glance, many people have observed, ‘three point machines equals three times the cost’, but this is simply not true!
As existing machines are single-channel, they have been significantly over-engineered. Revising the design of traditional machines has led to many opportunities for cost savings. Repoint is constructed almost entirely from COTS (commercial, off-the-shelf) components. The actuators and gearboxes are simple, designed for mass-manufacture, and standardised. Wear components are low-cost and easily replaced. The lift-move-drop motion eliminates the requirement for back-drives on a large portion switches.
Significant savings also come from the reduction in maintenance and fault rectification which having several channels offers. Should a channel fail, it can be isolated, and the maintenance organisation informed. The switch can continue to operate, and trains can continue to run, until replacement of faulty components becomes convenient. The delay reduction itself is a significant cost saving.
Whilst the system demonstrator has been constructed with three channels, it is possible to add or remove channels as demanded by the installation location. Perhaps points at the entry to key stations could be fitted with four channels, and lesser used rural lines, two.