Network Rail reveals ‘workshop on wheels’ for railway maintenance
3 September 2015 • Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review
The first vehicle of a fleet of mobile maintenance trains (MMTs) has entered service to revolutionise Network Rail railway maintenance and repair work.
Network Rail believes the introduction of the advanced engineering trains will make working on the railway quicker, safer and more efficient as well as less disruptive for passengers and freight. Based at locations around the country, the eight MMTs will provide a ‘workshop on wheels’ for engineers and track workers as they carry out repairs, renewals and upgrades to Britain’s 20,000-mile rail network.
The fleet, operated and maintained by Colas Rail under a three-year deal, consist of seven vehicles each fitted with a workshop two built-in 2t cranes to move heavy equipment, multiple power points (400V, 110V, hydraulic and pneumatic) and will be able carry all the tools and supplies the engineers could need, alongside a welfare area with kitchen and toilet. A large extendable work area that allows access to the track below is a key feature of the MMT’s providing cover, floodlighting and added protection from passing trains.
It is hoped the MMTs will reduce disruption to daytime services by working on section of track at a time without the need to close the adjacent railway line. This will allow for better use of the railway at night for freight trains.
MMT provides a large extendable work area that allows access for railway maintenance
Neal Lawson, Network Rail’s maintenance director, said: “Many tasks on the railway can only be carried out when the railway is closed to traffic – but with passenger numbers growing and demand for freight increasing at record levels, the need to keep the railway open round-the-clock is greater than ever before.
“These new trains mean our frontline staff can complete a wide range of maintenance and repairs more quickly and efficiently, reducing the need for costly and disruptive closures of the tracks. They’ll also keep our people safe, warm and dry and better able to focus on getting the job done.”
Teams will be able to board the MMT at a depot and be taken directly to the work site. In the safety of the work unit they can make repairs on a section of track or, using a slow ‘creep’ mode, are able to make rolling repairs. There are shutter blinds fitted in the upper section of the work unit, allowing natural light and ventilation in good weather. Closing these offers shelter and protection in bad conditions. The work unit also has adjustable side walls so the workspace can be increased where possible.
The fleet will be manufactured by Robel, in Freilassing, Germany and delivered over the next 12 months. The first MMT will be based in Darlington, with the second arriving in Paddock Wood, Kent in October and the third will be based in Derby in December. The remaining five will be stationed at Woking, Retford, Romford, Peterborough and Horsham.