Rail industry works together to keep passengers moving this autumn: Railhead Treatment Train Holyhead

Tuesday 9 Oct 2018

Rail industry works together to keep passengers moving this autumn

Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Wales & Borders
| Wales & Western

As part of Network Rail’s and Arriva Trains Wales’ joint plan to keep passengers moving this autumn, Network Rail’s fleet of specialist ‘railhead treatment’ trains are out in force across the Wales and Borders network.

 Autumn is a challenging period on the railway which is why planning between the two companies began almost a year in advance to ensure trains and tracks are kept in the best possible condition.

Network Rail’s specialist treatment trains clear leaves from the surface of the track using high pressured water jets, aiding traction between track and train.

Throughout autumn, the trains will complete 3,360 hours of treatment on the Wales and Borders route, as part of a targeted approach agreed with train drivers to make sure locations most severely impacted by the autumn weather receive enough treatment.

Alongside Network Rail’s specialist trains, Arriva Trains Wales has invested in new wheels for trains to prepare the fleet for autumn. Equipping trains with new wheels will reduce the need for additional maintenance during the autumn months, maximising fleet availability.

Arriva Trains Wales Managing Director Tom Joyner has gone on record as saying he “could not be prouder” of all 2,300 of his staff across Wales and the Borders for their efforts in preparing for this autumn and especially the fleet and engineering teams at Canton, Machynlleth, Holyhead and Chester.

“Our teams have been working round the clock and our commitment to handing over a fleet in the best condition possible to Transport for Wales could not be clearer,” he said.

“We have also made every effort to secure additional trains to help take the pressure off if and when we do suffer storm damage and we will continue to do so up to the end of the franchise.”

Alison Thompson, chief operating officer for Network Rail in Wales and Borders: “We work closely with our train operators all year round to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep services running safely and reliably during autumn.

“As well as teams who have been working for many months to prepare, our highly trained teams will be working 24/7 to help keep passengers moving safely throughout autumn.”

Keith Winder, Production Director for Arriva Trains Wales added: “Arriva Trains Wales has carried out an extensive programme to prepare for the difficulties autumn causes on the railway as well as working closely with Network Rail on their plan to prepare for Autumn.

“This includes fitting new wheelsets on many trains, with a 6-month lifespan to hand over to Transport for Wales, as well as being able to repair wheels which become damaged, and replacement wheels on hand, when needed.

“Investment levels have mirrored previous years, with the previous 12 months having been very challenging for the ATW fleet with a number of storms leaving several trains needing repair. This year we have gone above and beyond to ensure the fleet is in as strong a position as possible ready for autumn and our hand over to TfW Rail Services.

“It’s no secret our trains are amongst the oldest in the UK and that is a result of the zero growth franchise deal back in 2003 and the lack of rolling stock availability. But equally we have some of the best engineers working round the clock to keep those trains going and we’ve got one of the best apprentice programmes in Britain training the next generation of apprentices. Those bright young people will be a huge asset for Transport for Wales over the coming years.”

James Price, Chief Executive, Transport for Wales: “Arriva Trains Wales employs dedicated engineers who have been working hard to the prepare the fleet for autumn, despite working with some of the UK’s oldest trains.  We hope that these preparations will ensure a smooth transition and we have been working collaboratively with ATW and Network Rail to understand and prepare for the potential challenges autumn could bring.

“ATW’s staff are a huge asset to rail in Wales and we look forward to working with them in future as we transform rail services in Wales to provide customers with a great service in future.”

Other activities include:

  • Vegetation management Network Rail takes its responsibility to manage the railways safely and look after the habitats on our land very seriously. Network Rail Wales and Borders has invested more in removing vegetation near the railway this year to minimise leaf fall and reduce the risk of larger debris falling onto the railway during storms. We take our environmental obligations extremely seriously

and we manage our lineside to provide healthy biodiversity, advised by experts in the field.

  • Hand-sanding rail. Every morning before the first train service, Network Rail teams will sand rail where slippery rail has been identified overnight by train drivers, to aid traction between track and train.
  • Extra wheel maintenance. Arriva Trains Wales is investing in its wheel repair facilities. This increases train availability in the run up to, and during autumn.
  • More investment in driver training. Prior to autumn, train drivers have received additional training to help prepare them for the adverse weather autumn can bring. Arriva Trains Wales have also trained additional staff to use wheel repair equipment to maximise availability of trains.

To find out more about how Network Rail tackles autumn, go to: www.networkrail.co.uk/autumn.

Notes to Editors

Notes to Editors:

During high winds can cause heavy leaf-fall in a short space of time and rain means the leaves are more likely to stick to the rails. When trains pass over these leaves, the heat and weight of the trains bake them into a thin, slippery layer on the rail. This can affect trains braking and accelerating, meaning train drivers must slow down earlier for stations and signals to avoid passing them. They must also accelerate more gently to avoid wheel spin. All this can increase the time it takes passengers to get to their destination.

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