Aesthetic Overhead Line Structures – Finalists Announced

The successful finalists in the international design competition for new, aesthetically pleasing designs for the gantry and cantilever structures on the UK rail network have now been selected.

The competition launched by the rail industry’s FutureRailway, in conjunction with HS2 Ltd and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in December 2013 concluded with two intense days of judging this week.

An event was held last night (7th May) in the Great Hall at the National Railway Museum and the finalists announced as:

Bystrup Architecture, Design and Engineering, Denmark for their HST design (image below)

Bystrup Architecture, Design & Engineering_Finalist

COBE, Denmark for their Tomahawk design (image below)


Moxon Architects with Mott MacDonald for the Integrated OLS design (image below)

Moxon Architects with Mott MacDonald_Finalist


IDOM UK Alan Baxter & Associates and SEMI were also selected as Highly Commended


David Clarke, Director of FutureRailway commented:  “It has been a fascinating and enjoyable process and it was very clear to the panel that every shortlisted team had put a huge amount of hard work and dedication into their designs.  We have selected three worthy finalists and I look forward to seeing each design developed further during the coming months.”

Mark Howard, HS2 Ltd Head of Power and Traction said: “I am very impressed by the high standard of the designs in this competition.  All those shortlisted have really understood the technical practicalities whilst coming up with eye-catching structures.  HS2 will be innovative and reflect the very best in 21st century design.  I look forward to developing these ideas further and perhaps one day seeing them alongside the UK’s much needed high speed rail network.”

The exhibition of the ten shortlisted designs in the Great Hall at the National Railway Museum features scale models of each design and will end on 12 May.  It has already generated a great deal of interest amongst the general public with over 600 comments received on the different design approaches.

The finalists will now use the development funding to undertake detailed technical development of their design and consider the route to market.

Summary of the shortlisted designs:

The High Speed T – ‘HST’, Bystrup Architecture, Design and Engineering

The High Speed T Mast reduces the overhead rail line to two elements; a triangular cable network carrying the power, and the aesthetic T-shaped mast which supports twin systems serving adjacent tracks.

High speed twin rail lines require less land with a single line of T masts between tracks, than with traditional masts either side. There are therefore no masts forming an obtrusive barrier between the track edge and its surroundings.

Tomahawk – a design family, COBE

Tomahawk is a family of overhead line structures that minimizes the visual impact of the entire line. This is achieved by reducing the overall height, reducing the number of structural elements and by using contemporary materials and manufacturing techniques.

By Keeping It Simple and Straightforward (KISS), the end product is buildable and well suited for its purpose. The simple design will also work visually when repeated hundreds of times throughout the landscape.

Integrated OLS, Moxon Architects with Mott MacDonald

The form of these masts is simple – slender and tapering, the design reduces the visual impact in the landscape.  The Integrated OLS scheme simplifies the components of the power line support equipment, replacing insulating pots with built-in insulating properties through the use of a densified laminated wood.

The full shortlist in alphabetical order are:

  • Bystrup Architecture, Design and Engineering, Denmark (with two designs shortlisted)
  • COBE, Denmark
  • Grimshaw
  • Gorton, Paul, Scheuvens + ARUP
  • IDOM UK Ltd with Alan Baxter & Associates and SEMI
  • Lariko/Urbanski
  • Moxon Architects with Mott MacDonald
  • PWA
  • Ramboll UK


The National Railway Museum, York is open seven days a week from 10am – 6pm.  Admission is free.  For further details please visit