Ahead of the Spotlight Rail Awards, Quadrant Transport highlights why improving rolling stock to reflect the needs of the future UK railway industry and its passengers is essential.
In rolling stock, there has been a lot of investment with new and improved facilities, increased accessibility, on-board entertainment, and the facilitation of new and enhanced passenger services.
Eighty-seven per cent of the rolling stock on Britain’s railways is owned by three companies, known as the ROSCOs (Rolling Stock Companies). Train operators lease rolling stock from ROSCOs, which form the customer base that specifics requirements from the supply chain.
Finance and engineering solutions must enable the industry to invest and deliver rolling stock which reflects the needs of the future UK railway and its passengers. Rolling stock fleets must be used to maximise passenger capacity and enhance safety.
The Industry Faces Challenges That Affect Rolling Stock
Most of the challenges that affect rolling stock revolve around design. Agreeing to the right standards for the industry is key, and those in the sector must share their concerns for vehicle design, construction, and maintenance.
Focusing on maintenance associated with structures, air quality, and train safety systems are necessary, as improving these ensures customer confidence.
Another challenge is managing the interfaces between rolling stock and other performance-critical areas such as infrastructure, control, command and signalling, and structures and energy.
Creating the right strategies that will improve the way rolling stock works for the whole rail system is important as it could save money and reduce carbon emissions, but see trains perform with higher capacity and provide better customer satisfaction.
Making The Best Use Of Existing Rolling Stock Is Essential
Rail now must continue to improve its environmental impact, and funding should shift to a whole-life cost approach. Improvements such as retrofitting existing rolling stock or encouraging the shift to hydrogen and battery power are needed.
If we are to reach our net zero targets, the industry must focus on decarbonising rail. Work undertaken by the Rail Industry Decarbonisation Taskforce (RIDT) has outlined that the viable technologies to achieve our targets are further electrification and the deployment of battery and hydrogen-powered rolling stock.
Network Rail claims in its ‘Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy – Interim Programme Business Case’ document that “for decarbonisation, a key consideration is that for any future rolling stock purchase, the incremental whole life cost must be understood.”
Rolling Stock Must Become Cost-Effective
Operating costs must be reduced and improving rolling stock can do this. Network Rail’s Very Light Rail (VLR) is a concept to describe vehicles which use rails but typically weigh less than one tonne per linear metre. Due to their reduced weight, the associated track and infrastructure they operate on can be less substantial.
VLR is just one concept that has proven that low-cost technology can be used in rail and benefit the environment. It has several benefits, which include providing eco-friendly vehicles without the need for heavy rail infrastructure enhancements, reducing costs of new infrastructure, allowing a larger number of vehicles to be provided and removing key areas of operational costs.
Spotlight Rail Awards Are Here To Highlight Innovative Practices
Spotlight Rail Awards is the best place to celebrate how the supply chain is helping benefit the industry through innovating and decarbonising rolling stock. To see a complete list of categories, click here.
If your company can showcase innovative practices, whether this is a new build, modified, or re-engineered, along with innovations that align with the industry’s net zero aspirations, then there is no better place to showcase this than at our Spotlight Rail Awards, held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel on 30 March 2023.