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ROLLING STOCK


Kay explained how RailBAM allowed bearings to be accurately checked for damage or potential wear: “It’s actually looking for a very specifi c frequency of distress; it’s discriminating between what’s defective [and what is not].”


So far, 8.4 million individual bearings have passed the equipment, of which 3.3 million are from the SWT fl eet. This means that a “signifi cant” proportion of data is available to target maintenance more effectively.


Analysis of that data has led to the prediction of over 60 bearing defects, which would have gone on to potentially fail, disrupting services and safety.


“We’ve been able to take those out not just days or hours before failure, we’re talking 100,000 miles before failure,” Kay said.


The use of the data could soon cascade to the other TOCs and FOCs operating over the route, he predicted.


Melting the ice


Following harsh weather in recent winters and problems coupling and uncoupling trains due to ice and snow build-up, Siemens has come up with a strategy to heat couplers and keep them clear.


With trains all over Europe, some of which operate in very cold temperatures, the company was well-placed to consider the best approach to protect couplers.


Following such advice, Siemens and SWT decided to use heating elements to avoid a repeat of winter disruption.


The heaters are temperature controlled and operate automatically depending on the external temperature. This works to reduce coupling operation failure and keep the coupler free of ice, excess snow and moisture.


Around three-quarters of the fl eet has now been fi tted with the technology. The rolling programme is due for completion in November, in preparation for any severely cold weather.


Damage at low-speed


The partnership has implemented track protection hardware to reduce wear on key points of the railway, namely the variable stiffness bush.


Whilst passenger comfort at speed is a key consideration for the operator, the original bogies used were found to cause an increase in rail wear in low-speed areas.


Such wear can be extremely expensive for Network Rail, which has to replace parts of the track, so SWT and Siemens worked together to develop a solution that would mitigate this effect.


The new variable stiffness bush features hydraulic fl uid inside two rubber based reservoirs. When the train travels at low speed, the fl uid is free to move through the bush, which reduces its stiffness. When the train is travelling at high speed, the way the reservoirs


are joined


means the fl uid inside the bush can’t move and therefore it stiffens up.


This reduced wear at low speed whilst maintaining passenger comfort at high speeds, and is expected to save Network Rail around £5m over the year. The Class 444 fl eet has already been fi tted with these bushes and, following the Paralympic Games, the Class 450s will be fi tted too.


Wasted energy


The trains’ electric braking element, when used at high speed, generates a huge amount of energy, which is then dissipated into the atmosphere and wasted.


Above: Some of the technology discussed. Middle: The briefi ng event at Waterloo.


energy and help those trains to save energy.”


The partnership sought to use this energy to power other trains on the network. Siemens’ fl eet manager Steve Walker described how collaboration between Network Rail, SWT and Siemens led to the implementation of technology which converts this wasted energy back into usable energy via the third rail.


He said: “This has an immediate benefi t. The track is receptive; other rolling stock on the same section of track will take their energy from the third rail. It allows us to take this


Walker added that the technology could save 50 million kilowatts a year. In context, that amount of energy could supply 11,500 homes for over a year.


“Quite clearly that is good for our carbon footprint and it’s good for the country.


At least 5% of all the energy produced by this train during braking is benefi tting other rolling stock on our railways. The system has been in about approximately 12-18 months now and it’s been working perfectly.”


Cont overleaf > rail technology magazine Aug/Sep 12 | 137


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