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“If you get the fundamental reliability right, which we have done over a number of years, it can make a difference.”

He added that it was important “not to think that a big technological modifi cation on the train is some kind of magic button”. He said: “If you’ve got good data, good people, and you work on that together, you can do great things with the product. I think that has been very successful so far.”

These factors can deliver long-lasting sustainable benefi ts and reduce the risk associated with major change in a relatively short extension.

The cornerstone of maintenance

Discussing whether it was more important to work on preventative maintenance or to develop quick and effective reactions to disruptions, Newton said: “Preventative maintenance has got to be the cornerstone of any fl eet obviously, it’s got to be the driver. But you’ve got to make sure it’s dynamic, so that you don’t stagnate and do the same thing over and over.”

This involves constant optimisation on VMIs

(Vehicle Maintenance Instruction)

and preventative maintenance practices. Permanent staff are also spread across the network to provide reaction where necessary, as quickly as possible.

Newton acknowledged that good maintenance “obviously reduces the need for reaction” and highlighted the very low impact minutes on the network with Virgin. However, he suggested that the real target should be condition-based maintenance

A recent review found that measuring and checking consumables in the traditional numbers of hours and miles that have gone by could be replaced by checks that take into account a wider range of factors that capture the full condition of the train. This data can then be represented via a simple traffi c lights system of need, which can easily be interpreted and acted upon by staff.

There is increasing opportunity to build condition-based maintenance into new vehicles, Newton said, and there are currently pockets of the practice across the railway network. He added: “It’s something that we’re particularly well-placed to take advantage of on this fairly mature product. We’re working hard on making sure we’re really capturing the data about what’s going on. “It doesn’t always mean there’s a need for a very high-technology, high-complexity solution. Sometimes it can be as simple as just checking certain things more quickly. Our operators

(CBM), with new vehicles having more and more inbuilt capability to monitor their own systems. This doesn’t just apply to the latest models, but could be achieved today with existing rolling stock, he added.

“We shouldn’t assume we can’t get there with a more mature product like Voyager. We’ve got various initiatives like ORBITA, and with improved data we’re in much better shape to target condition-based maintenance.”

Condition-based maintenance Bombardier

now have handhelds while line-side, giving them the capability to capture more data, look more frequently at a lot of things and build up a picture that allows you to make better decisions.”

This new approach to maintenance can provide signifi cant cost savings, and remove constraints on where and when fuelling takes place, offering a wider range of options for timetabling.

West Coast chaos? conducts regular cycles of

maintenance optimisation, analysing data to identify potential improvements.

Commenting on the recent disruption over the West Coast franchise award, Newton said that the confusion had not signifi cantly affected Bombardier, and had in fact resulted in “quite a success story, at least for us”.

He explained: “It was apparent that the DfT had a problem, but we tried to be really constructive when it came to negotiating this interim service contract. With a good pragmatic and experienced workforce, we’ve got good relations with all the right people and I’m pleased to say that we managed to keep our heads up.”

Newton called the decision to extend Virgin’s contract for 23 months before the start of a new, longer-term franchise on the route “a sensible outcome” and added that clear communication with the workforce had helped to mitigate the impact on Bombardier.



More stories like this at: awards-contracts-appointments

rail technology magazine Dec/Jan 13 | 59

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