South West Trains has worked with Siemens and Network Rail to pioneer new wheel technology to significantly reduce track damage and cut infrastructure maintenance costs whilst preserving good ride quality for passenger.
A special “variable stiffness bush” is being fitted to its fleet of 45 Desiro trains on its mainline routes between Waterloo, Weymouth, Portsmouth, Alton and Southampton following successful trials.
The innovative engineering design – which combines conventional elastomer bushes with a hydraulic system - reduces the force between the wheel and the rail, ensuring better movement on curved track at low speeds. At higher speeds, the Radial Arm Bush system provides better passenger comfort as the train accelerates.
The newly-tested bush has been designed so that it can be transferred to any Desiro vehicles in the UK, allowing the whole railway industry to benefit.
Christian Roth, South West Trains Engineering Director, said: “In just over a year, the engineering teams at South West Trains and Siemens have achieved an amazing milestone. The new bushes are a small part of our train bogies, but they are essential to our passengers’ comfort.
“This innovation will also help improve infrastructure maintenance efficiency and we expect this pioneering project will be followed up by many engineering teams up and down the country. We are now aiming to roll out this new feature across our Desiro fleet.”
Steve White, Siemens Rolling Stock Maintenance Director, said: “This is an elegant solution to a problem that has caused an increase in infrastructure maintenance costs. It shows how much can be achieved in a short time when the manufacturer, operator and Network Rail work in partnership.”
The South West Trains engineering team has now successfully completed in-service testing of the solution and all of its Desiro fleet is expected to be fitted with the track-friendly technology by the end of 2013.