Two Zulu Zero Two

WHILE most of British Rail’s first generation DMU fleet was phased out of operation by the mid-1990s, the Class 121 ‘Bubble Cars’ proved too useful to be completely discarded and many passed to the departmental fleet for use as Sandite layers during the autumn leaf-fall season.

Waiting to pass a service train at Glenwhilly on the Stranraer line. 3/5/01

It was one of these that Balfour Beatty and Omnicom Engineering employed as a ’go-anywhere’ vehicle in 2000, to fulfil a contract carrying out a video survey of the entire network for Railtrack, which was the private company that had taken over ownership of Britain’s rail infrastructure from BR in 1994. And 2Z02, or ‘Two Zulu Zero Two’ to use the phonetic terminology, was the headcode that it ran under during that survey.
The aim was to provide Railtrack with a complete video record of its network that could be studied from the safety of an office. The software developed by Omnicom would not only lead to an accurate compilation of an asset database, but also to enable measurements to be taken from the video that was presented to the user on a desktop computer. It was the first stage in reducing the need to send people out onto the tracks to see what was out there, a process that continues in a variety of ways to this day.