This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

“ If airlines were as reliable as the plant I have on my track renewals, there’d be 490 plane crashes a day!”

He told us: “We were paid a big compliment by someone from one of the big suppliers, who attends all of these shows, who said ours was every bit as good as the European events – and it’s live, you can see the plant working. At every other event, you’re stuck in a convention centre.”

There was all sorts going on around the show, including plant operators challenged to test their accuracy by hooking and lifting wooden ducks and knocking over tiny targets at the H.E. Services (Plant Hire) Ltd stand, a huge number of live displays, and a charity fundraising event hosted by TXM Plant for the Railway Children charity.

The company’s national operations director Steve Bodman said he’s used models of scenes in bottles as charity raffl e prizes before, “and they always encourage interest due their exclusivity”. The expertly detailed model of track workers and plant working on the railway, made by a specialist in Llantrisant, south Wales, certainly interested lots of passers- by into stopping by the TXM Plant stand and donating to charity. (See picture overleaf)

“He can basically create whatever scene you wish with prior notice and suffi cient information,” Bodman explained. He added: “The plant show was a great success for TXM Plant, enabling us to display some of our equipment and network all other solutions we offer as a company apart from plant.”

Everyone RTM talked to at the event seemed happy with its size and scale, and most were keen to see it return in the future. Topcon’s Simon Crowhen was among those pleased with the interest shown, while dBD Communications called it a “great success”, and its sales operations administrator apprentice Toni Avis commented: “This was a great couple of days to see how our equipment is being used within the rail community.”

‘People love that it’s live’

There were displays, demos and talks throughout the exhibition, with some of the

biggest names in track technology and plant showing off what their kit can do.

Featherstone said: “The benefi t for me as the track director is that everything should fl ow through into my cost base. That may take a year or two, but all of these initiatives will fl ow through to what we see out on the track. That means the whole thing should be worthwhile.

“People love the fact that it’s live: you can get inside a digger and see how it works, you can demonstrate the Railvac, we’ve got 300m of rail renewals going on. It’s like fi ve years of site visits around the network in two days. As I go around the country, it’s clear that the people in Bristol still do it the Bristol way, people in York do it the York way, people in Birmingham do it the Birmingham way, because that’s what they’ve always done. They do what they believe is best practice, but because I get the opportunity to go round the country, I can see there are good ideas in different places, and by doing something like this, you bring all the good ideas together and you shift people’s horizons. They see a solution to a problem they’ve got, when they didn’t realise such a solution was out there.

“This is about bringing the people with solutions and the people with problems together, and we should see the benefi ts fl owing through the supply chain and back to Network Rail. This is the GB railway doing it for itself and helping itself out.”

Exciting developments

Of the kit on show, he said he was particularly excited by the temporary cross-over, saying: “That is going to be really helpful in possessions, to be able to move trains from one line onto another without the need for a traditional crossover.”

He said he was keen on technology allowing post-possession handback at higher line speeds.

He said: “For example, the high output TRS (track relaying system) hands back at 80mph,

the ballast cleaner hands back at 90mph – but we’ve been looking at the limitations of 80mph and what we can do to push that further. My ultimate aim – and it will take us a few years to get there – is that I want to have the toolkit to be able to hand back at 125mph. We’ve got the ideas: the innovations are in this fi eld somewhere to allow us to do that.

“Our challenge is to bring them all together, get them all proven, get the safety certifi cates sorted out, then one day we’ll be able to hand back at line speed. You wouldn’t necessarily do that everywhere; to get the required track quality takes longer, and there may be track you’re happy to hand back at 50mph, and be able to do more work with the time you’ve got available. But it’s about understanding the trade-offs between handback speed and the length of works you can do.”

Technology to improve plant reliability

Plant reliability is another huge issue, Featherstone told us. “One of the things that really hurts us in track renewals is when plant breaks down. Sometimes we lose 10 minutes, sometimes an hour and a half – but it can really hurt us, sometimes we don’t get the full length of work, sometimes we over-run. I’m absolutely passionate about improving the quality of the kit we’ve got.

“I’ve been looking at remote condition monitoring systems: there are some really good examples of that which, if implemented extensively, should improve reliability and fl ag up problems before plant has failed, not after.

“That’ll allow us to keep machines in production for longer, improve our effi ciency and reduce disruption. If you’re going to improve plant reliability, you have to think differently. We’ve been getting advice from Rolls Royce in the aviation industry. We did some analysis; if you extrapolate our plant reliability into the aviation industry, and airlines were as reliable as the plant I have on my track renewals, there’d be 490 plane crashes a day!”

Continued overleaf > rail technology magazine Aug/Sep 13 | 47

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92