Thursday 1 Sep 2016
VIDEO: ‘Workshop on wheels’ already providing a better railway for passengers in Hampshire
Passengers in Hampshire are already benefiting from Network Rail’s £6.5 million investment in a state-of-the-art ‘workshop on wheels’, which has seen a step-change in the way that the company’s orange army can maintain and repair the railway.
With over 1,300 miles of track used by over 1,700 trains a day to the south and west of London alone, the track can sometimes develop dents or cracks which have the potential to cause delays to passengers and freight. Repairing such defects typically requires Network Rail to shut sections of track while engineers are drafted in to fix the railway.
However, with Network Rail’s new maintenance train, engineers can replace sections of track in as little as two and a half hours overnight when trains aren’t running, meaning passengers’ journeys aren’t disrupted by works. By tackling the problems so quickly, it also means that the ‘orange army’ can renew more sections of track than ever before, improving the reliability of the railway for passengers.
On a recent visit to meet the team in charge of the train, Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail said, “It’s clear to see that this investment through our Railway Upgrade Plan is already providing a better railway for the growing number of passengers who rely on trains every day. We now have a dedicated team to react to the causes of delays, who can work in a safe and efficient way.
“We began using the maintenance train back in April and it’s already proven its worth by clearing 75 defects in overnight shifts. Every one of these had the potential to delay passengers, but we were able to tackle problems quickly overnight, minimising any potential disruption.
“Since we began using the train we have already hosted delegations from Japan and Australia, where they’re keen to emulate our success. It’s evident that this really is the future for running the railway.”
As well as improving the railway for passengers, the train also provides the crew with a safe and protected environment to replace and repair tracks, whatever the weather.
James West-Beard, mobile maintenance train manager for Network Rail’s Wessex route said, “This job can involve working overnight in really tough conditions, a long way from shelter and simple comforts like a hot drink or a proper loo.
“Most of all, it’s vastly reduced the amount of time it takes to carry out the work and with the all-round lighting, we get pretty much perfect working conditions whatever the weather.”
About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Every day, there are more than 4.7 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.
We are building a better railway for a better Britain.