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Remote control

John Glover explains how National Express East Anglia has seen the reliability of its Class 90s improve 200 per cent by using remote performance monitoring


Performance issues have been high up the railway’s

agenda for some time. In response, National Express East Anglia (NEEA) has pioneered a new approach to improving the reliability of its fleet of Class 90 mainline locomotives through the development of an innovative remote monitoring system. Now, all 15 of NEEA’s Class 90s and Driving Van Trailers (DVTs), which operate on the Norwich to London Liverpool Street Intercity route with Mk 3 coaching stock, have their real-time performance remotely monitored by technicians using a standard computer.

Implementation Fleet technical engineer Steve Mitchell worked on the development and installation of the equipment at NEEA’s Crown Point Depot with service delivery manager Richard Jones, technician Stuart Lawler and project engineer Mark Ward. The remote monitoring

equipment is a box, not much bigger than a laptop, containing all the necessary wires and electronics and fitted to the locomotive or DVT. From there it continually conveys the information it receives on how the locomotive is performing in service via a GPRS

telecommunication system. The data goes through a server and the database contains millions of records through the 160 channels in use, with a reading taken every five seconds from both the Class 90 and the DVT. This data can then be monitored in real-time or after the event, as all the information is held on the database. This includes information on power supply, voltage and battery charge – almost every working operation of the locomotive and DVT can be remotely monitored. By immediately monitoring and analysing the data, NEEA’s

technicians can help to resolve a fault occurring while a train is in service, and also help to reduce instances of train failure by identifying a component that might fail and cause a future delay. Although common among new trains, it is thought that the system is the first of its type to be ‘retro

‘This data can then be monitored in real-time or after the event, as all the information is held on the database’

NEEA Norwich services at Liverpool Street Station. Unit on the right is 90008, The East Anglian

PAGE 32 MAY 2011

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