Thursday 1 Sep 2016
VIDEO: ‘Workshop on wheels’ already providing a better railway for passengers in Surrey
Passengers in Surrey 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
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.