How Britain’s new ‘workshop on wheels’ will revolutionise track maintenance
9 December 2015 • Author(s): Craig Mathys, Programme Manager at Network Rail
Britain has one of the oldest and most complex railway infrastructures in the world; an essentially Victorian rail network, parts of which date back to the times of Brunel and are in need of almost constant maintenance and modernisation. It falls to Network Rail to maintain, develop and run the country’s 20,000 miles of railway tracks and signalling, 40,000 bridges, tunnels, and viaducts, 6,000 level crossings, and 18 key stations.
Over the next five years, Network Rail will spend and invest £38 billion as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan to deliver better, faster, greener services, and improved punctuality, reliability and safety, while simultaneously keeping the railway open to enable four and a half million journeys to take place, every single day. The railway is the lifeblood on which the nation depends, generating wealth valued at £12.8 billion a year, yet in parts, the maintenance of this crucial infrastructure still relies on technology that fundamentally hasn’t changed from when it was first invented in the 1840s. With the delivery of the country’s first Mobile Maintenance Train (MMT), Craig Mathys, Programme Manager at Network Rail describes how these exciting and popular new ‘workshops on wheels’ are set to revolutionise track maintenance, modernise and streamline old-fashioned procedures, while bringing massive cost and time efficiencies and increased workforce safety.
Picture this. It’s a scenario many railway engineers will be all too familiar with. It’s 3:00am, dark, cold, wet and windy. The rain is coming down horizontally, visibility is poor and its way below freezing. You’re working on the tracks wrestling with a troublesome piece of maintenance, and the clock is ticking towards deadline. If it’s not complete on time, you’ll be responsible for train delays that could cost thousands. The pressure is on and there’s not even the prospect of a hot drink anytime soon. At times, being a railway engineer is a grim task…