Category Archives: Blog


5 Advantages of Working with Rope Access Specialists


The definition of rope access is, on the face of it, straightforward. On its website, IRATA International describes its rope access system as “a safe method of working at height where ropes and associated equipment are used to gain access to and from the workplace, and to be supported there.” However, you would need to look much closer at rope access – such as by reading the rest of this article – to learn much more about the advantages of turning to rope access specialists.

They can reach awkward and otherwise inaccessible places

The Guardian calls many buildings’ places, angles and drops “decidedly inaccessible” – despite the original intentions for these buildings to be used by humans. The site also cites rope access specialists as “often the best answer to a question architecture sometimes forgets to ask: how will this be maintained?” It hasn’t been unheard-of for an organisation to, for instance, spend millions of pounds on lights without providing a way for them to be accessed if the bulbs go.

However, rope access specialists can be useful in many different settings

We hope that we haven’t painted rope access technicians as catering for strictly a niche need. Rats, to use one nickname for them, can work in various places. This certainly applies to members of IRATA, an organisation with which Rats here at SAS Rope & Rail have become qualified. IRATA lists various places where these members can, today, be seen working – including “the world’s great iconic buildings, both old and new, as well as your local city centre or industrial complex”.

These specialists can work without impacting the public in the process

While you might have occasionally seen Rats pinned to towering buildings as you have gone about one routine or another, a lot of the time, rope access technicians really are both out of sight and out of mind. Adam Garre, who left a job as a tradesman to work in rope access, told The Guardian of the experience when “the world is going by and no one knows you’re there.”

The environment also won’t be adversely affected

Rope access specialists know how to work in a manner that minimises negative effects on the surrounding area. IRATA explains that, with rope access techniques, the main objective is to “plan, manage and carry out the work with minimal accidents, incidents or dangerous occurrences”. There should be “no damage to property or harm to the environment”, IRATA adds.

Our rope access specialists are IRATA qualified

This really isn’t to be overlooked. This is largely because being IRATA qualified means that our rope access technicians buy into IRATA’s philosophy of effectiveness that minimally impacts other operations or the area close to where the Rats are working. You can click here for a detailed rundown of rope access services that our rope access technicians can provide. Those services include, but are certainly not limited to, repairing masonry, installing banners and signage and painting. You can learn more by phoning us on 01793 644 908.


What drives a person to work in industrial abseiling?


Are you tasked with looking after a building or structure that, perhaps due to having a unique design or daunting height, has typically hard-to-reach spots? If so, you should seriously consider contacting us to seek assistance from one of our rope access technicians. However, what leads people to take up industrial abseiling as a job? Here’s an interesting insight…


A Rat is not in the kitchen but instead abseiling

For many of us, the idea of being suspended several feet in the air can feel daunting or even scary – especially if it’s concrete that we would be suspended over. Still, it remains clear that many of us genuinely have a head for heights. It’s not too hard to discern why such people might want to become “Rats”, as rope access technicians are known by people in the industry.

The Guardian has observed: “Most Rats are climbers and cavers who realised they could get paid to do what they love.” Nikodem “Niko” Strzeciwilk, a Rat of many years’ experience, admitted that he joined his industrial rope access course “only for the adventure,” adding: “I didn’t even think about the job.” Hence, you would probably assume that there must be no lack of daredevils among Rats.


Being fit for the job – in more ways than one

Being a Rat also calls for good physical fitness. Naturally, people who are keen on climbing and caving already have a head start in that area. “It’s a physical job,” Strzeciwilk has acknowledged, before conceding: “I wouldn’t like to do this when I’m 40. It’s like an athlete; it’s not a long career.” The Guardian writer Simon Wroe admitted, after trying a rope access routine himself, to his surprise at “the stress on my body – and I’m not using an 8kg drill or trying to pull myself back up.”


London, a “toy town”? Yes, really

However, the opportunity to reach possibly unchartered areas could also appeal. “Sometimes it’s three o’clock in the morning and you’re somewhere where, probably, no-one’s been in their life,” Adam Garre, an ex-tradesman who took up rope access work, has explained. “The world is going by and no-one knows you’re there. And you think: ‘This is breathtaking.'”

Abseilers could even capture some impressive shots on camera while they are in the air. By way of example, Guy Hayhow has taken some awe-inspiring views of London from high up. He has snapped images using an iPhone attached to a lanyard around his neck – and, fortunately for many people who wouldn’t be keen on following him into industrial abseiling, posted the pictures to Instagram.

Hayhow told the London Evening Standard: “When you’re up quite high, London can feel like a bit of a toy town… you’ve got HMS Belfast looking like you can pick it up and move it about from the top of the Shard.” Ultimately, though, whatever reasons people have for embarking on industrial abseiling work, you can benefit from their enthusiasm – read about the services that we offer in this area.


London’s historical links with trains

Looking at how London – and, indeed, Britain as a whole – changed in the nineteenth century, it’s hard to overlook the influence of the development of the railways. While there had long been horse-drawn waggons on tracks, there was less need for horses to be used in this way as the British railways advanced. Here are some of the biggest links that London has had with the railways’ history.


A revolution that became London-bound

Much of the railways’ early development occurred outside London. For example, it was in 1804, while the Napoleonic Wars were waging, that Richard Trevithick managed to put together a steam locomotive capable of transporting ten tonnes of iron. Similarly, in 1825, it was between Stockton and Darlington where the opening of a new rail line allowed two locomotives to transport, at a speed of 8 miles per hour, 21 coal waggons over 25 miles – a previously unheard-of achievement.

It would also be fair to say that not everyone was enthusiastic about the idea of railways coming to London. The History Learning Site counts the Duke of Wellington as one high-profile critic. Wellington, best-known for defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, was concerned about trains possibly encouraging poor and undesirable people to travel to London.


“God’s Wonderful Railway” arrives in London

Nonetheless, it was in 1838 that Robert Stephenson completed a new rail line between London and Birmingham. Three years later, Isambard Kingdom Brunel finished the Great Western Railway, which ran between London and Bristol. So highly acclaimed was this new line that its initials, GWR, were used to dub it “God’s Wonderful Railway”. Aptly, Brunel’s name is preserved today by Brunel University, which is located in the Uxbridge area of west London.



A number of history-making firsts in the capital

London was also the location of the planet’s first underground city transport service, which opened in 1863 and connected Paddington and Farringdon. It wasn’t a complete success to begin with; as The Guardian reports, it was overcrowded and steamy. However, it was popular with passengers. For meeting demand, rail carriages were brought in from Great Western Railway – which, in 1923, formed one of the UK’s four major railway companies, also including London Midland.

The London Underground, as it came to be known, continued to develop in the twentieth century. Air-operated doors replaced manually-operated ones on Tube trains in 1929, while the District line saw its first aluminium train entering service in 1952. Development hasn’t relented this century; in 2010, the Metropolitan line saw the first air-conditioned, walk-through Underground train run.


Keep railways looked-after with our help

Despite the London railways’ great history of success, it remains vital to heed various issues relating to safety. At SAS Rope & Rail, we have the expertise to take care of various aspects of delivering and maintaining rail projects in London for your company’s benefit. We can, for example, carry out confined space works, structural surveys, roof repairs, structural welding, rail bridge repairs and gutter and reactive rail maintenance.


The Top 5 Tallest Buildings in London

Befitting such a globally popular and influential city, London has no shortage of skyscrapers; in fact, all five of the UK’s tallest buildings are in the capital. Here is a run-down of these buildings, from the shortest to the loftiest. They don’t include freestanding structures that aren’t strictly buildings, such as transmitting stations; neither do they include towers that are currently planned or under construction. However, these five buildings could all benefit from rope access window cleaning…


The HSBC Tower or Citigroup Tower

Both of these buildings take their colloquial names from the banks occupying them – though the buildings’ official names are, respectively, 8 Canada Square and 25 Canada Square. Both being 200 metres in height, they are tying for the status of London’s fifth loftiest building. However, as the Telegraph explains, the HSBC Tower is not available to enter if you aren’t an HSBC employee or haven’t arranged a meeting with one. The Citigroup Tower is similarly inaccessible.


The Leadenhall Building

This 225-metre building’s above-mentioned official name has arisen as the street was once home to a medieval hall that lead merchants frequented, as Londonist explains. However, an especially memorable nickname for the building is ‘the Cheese Grater’ – and indeed, with its cross-hatched design on a slanted profile, it does resemble that useful kitchen utensil. Alas, unless you visit on a particular open day, you are unable to enter the building as a member of the public.


The Heron Building

At 230 metres, this is the tallest building in the City of London financial district. It is named after not the long-legged bird, but instead developer Heron; that name is itself a truncation from Henry Ronson, father of the company’s owner Gerald Ronson. While the building’s formal name is 110 Bishopsgate, another name that has been used for it is Salesforce Tower. This refers to the structure’s primary tenant, the American cloud computing firm


1 Canada Square

From 1991 until 2010, 1 Canada Square was the country’s tallest building. At 235 metres in height, it remains the most prominent and, thanks to its pyramid-shaped top, probably the most quickly recognisable building on the Canary Wharf estate. This site is so-called because, in the 1930s, the area saw the establishment of a warehouse and quay for use in trading fruit with the Canary Islands. The aforementioned HSBC and Citigroup structures are located on this estate as well.


The Shard

This building’s 309.6 metres make it the tallest building in Western Europe – though, due to Brexit, another building could soon take its current position as the European Union’s loftiest. The Shard is aptly-named, as its pointy shape is akin to a glass shard’s. This distinctive form is also intended to bring to mind church steeples and sail ships of a long-gone historical London.

Here at SAS Rope & Rail, we offer commercial exterior cleaning services which are especially well-suited for helping to remove unsightly dirt even from buildings as tall as these. Our website includes many more details about these services.

Top Safety Accreditation for SAS Rope & Rail Ltd

SAS Rope & Rail Ltd has been awarded accreditation from Alcumus SafeContractor for achieving excellence in health and safety in the workplace. Alcumus SafeContractor is a leading third party accreditation scheme which recognises extremely rigorous standards in health and safety management amongst contractors. It is used by thousands of organisations in the UK including SMEs and FTSE 100 companies.

SAS Rope & Rail Ltd is principally involved in the Rope Access and Rail sector,  and our most recent clients have included major players such as Amey and WSP.

The company’s application for SafeContractor accreditation was driven by the need for a uniform standard across the business.  SafeContractor accreditation will enhance the company’s ability to win new contracts, and its commitment to safety will be viewed positively by its insurers when the company liability policy is up for renewal.

Gemma Archibald, Director of Alcumus SafeContractor said: “Major organisations simply cannot afford to run the risk of employing contractors who are not able to prove that they have sound health and safety policies in place.” “More companies need to understand the importance of adopting good risk management in the way that SAS Rope & Rail Ltd has done. The firm’s high standard has set an example which hopefully will be followed by other companies within the sector.

SafeContractor plays a vital role in supporting our clients in meeting their compliance needs, whilst working with their contractors as they progress through the accreditation process.


The Royal International Air Tattoo

SAS Rope & Rail Ltd have been fortunate to be involved with many exciting projects in our time, and one that we look forward to every year is working at the world famous Royal International Air Tattoo.

SAS Rope & Rail have been working at the Air Tattoo in Fairford, and the Farnborough International Air Show for the past 5 plus years and are always excited to be asked back.  We send a team of our highly qualified rope access technicians to install the advertising banners all along the runway.  Once the flying is over and the aircraft are on their way home for another year, we send them back to dismantle!

It is an honour to work for such a prestigious event.

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SAS Rope & Rail achieve 5 starts in our RISQS Audit

SAS Rope & Rail are very proud to report that we have again passed our annual RISQS Audit, and this year we achieved the highest possible rating of 5 stars with no non-conformities.

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RISQS are the single entry point for suppliers to the rail industry. Buyers of products and services throughout the GB rail industry use RISQS as its supplier qualification service.

Successfully passing the RISQS audit demonstrates that a company’s business management system meets the health, safety, operational and competence standards required for working in the rail environment.

Managing Director Nick Underwood said: “I would like to thank our HSQE, Sentinel Coordinator and PTS staff for all their hard work in making sure all our processes are implemented correctly all year, as well as the work they’ve done for the audit. The audits have become more and more rigorous and we are very proud of this excellent result.”




SAS Rope & Rail and the iconic Forth Bridge

SAS Rope & Rail were very proud to have been one of the contractors working on the iconic Forth Road Bridge repairs just before Christmas.

Some facts about The Forth Bridge

  • It is a cantilever railway bridge over the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland, 9 miles west of Edinburgh City Centre.
  • It is considered an iconic structure and a symbol of Scotland, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • It is owned and operated by Network Rail and is a key part of the Scottish rail network

In December defective steelwork was identified on the bridge, and a decision was made to shut the bridge until New Year so the repairs could be carried out.  SAS Rope & Rail sent a team of almost 20 Rope Access technicians up to Scotland to work with Amey on the inspections and repairs.

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All the teams working on the bridge, including SAS Rope & Rail, worked around the clock to get the temporary repairs completed as quickly as possible to minimise the disruption caused.   The Transport Minister Derek Mackay said:

“For the complex and detailed interim repair to have been completed in this timeframe is a tribute to the highly skilled and dedicated staff who have worked 24/7 since December 3rd. Since the closure was put in place, weather conditions have been mainly favourable and the team have been able to complete the repair work in good time.”

We are extremely proud of our team for their hard work and dedication, and what’s more, they thoroughly enjoyed the project and have never been so keen to get up on the ropes, despite the chilly temperatures!

Good work boys, we look forward to more exciting projects throughout 2016.

Forth bridge MA

New name, new look, same us!

There has been a lot going on at SAS Facilities Ltd recently we are excited to share the changes that are happening.

Thanks to our rapid growth and increasing demand for diversified services, we have decided to split SAS Facilities Ltd into two separate companies; SAS Rope & Rail Ltd and SAS Build Ltd. This means that both companies can focus on their areas of expertise and we also feel the new names make our businesses easier to understand and market.  Quite simply we do what our name says!



SAS Rope & Rail will specialise in all rope access work, from window cleaning and signage installations to bridge inspections; as well as continuing our long-term projects within the rail infrastructure.





SAS Build Ltd will be responsible for all our construction work from office fit outs to commercial projects and residential developments, and will also look after our building maintenance contracts.


This will in no way effect the service that we provide our customers, and there has been no change in our management, address or contact details.

For more details and to see the new look that comes with the new name, check out and

Here at SAS Rope & Rail we have many strings to our bow, and whilst we’re probably best known for our rope access projects, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.

A core part of our business is building and maintenance work.  From office fit outs to domestic builds, we do it all.

We have recently been working on a local project, completing a 1500 square foot office fit-out at Arclite House in Swindon.  Arclite House is one of the best known buildings in Swindon due to its award winning glass architecture (which by the way our rope access guys keep gleaming), and we are proud to have been chosen to complete this re-fit.


The building was first developed for cellular operations in 2001, and used state of the art materials at that time, including a chillbeam air conditioning system.  As part of the strip out some of these now out-dated systems were removed, and replaced with highly efficient modern alternatives. The look of the new fit out has been brought up-to-date; all building fabric coverings have been removed to leave an industrial look which includes exposed galvanised air conditioning ducting and cable routes.

For more information about what we can do for your business, visit

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