Capacity to grow

With the London Underground evolving alongside unprecedented growth in passenger demand, Asset Performance JNP continues to provide the much needed performance improvements necessary to support it

Formerly known as Tube Lines, Asset Performance JNP (AP JNP) is responsible for maintaining and operating assets on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines of London’s expansive Underground network. Established in 2003 and becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL) in 2010, the company works in close partnership with the London Underground to manage a range of operations from routine maintenance and emergency track repair to complete line, station, lift and escalator refurbishment. With over 200 miles of track, 255 trains and 100 stations under its network – one that covers 41 per cent of the entire current Underground – and with over 500 million (and rising) passenger journey’s a year, AP JNP’s role is no small task.

In 2015 Railway Strategies spoke with the company’s Head of Operations, Andy Derbyshire, to discuss the growth of an analytical railway on the Underground network – a step beyond the digital railway where asset performance is monitored and failures predicted in order to improve reliability. It’s a concept that is proving critical to meeting the rapidly-growing demand put upon the metro system by London’s growing population and subsequent passenger numbers, by looking at the performance of existing infrastructure as opposed to widespread physical expansion.

“These are challenging times for the industry,” Andy explains a year on. “It’s not necessarily the growing levels of demand that provides the challenge – we’re engineers and we thrive off of facilitating this – but the cost pressures set out by central government spending reviews. This has only clarified the already important focus on making sure we can deliver the right levels of performance to meet rising demand for the right cost. This is where the value is for me.”

It’s a value that is presently proving itself well. Working in close collaboration with London Underground’s maintenance and project teams, as well as signalling partner Thales, recent upgrades to the Northern and Jubilee lines have resulted in significant performance improvements. “In the period between 2013 and 2014 we saw a 21 per cent performance improvement, and we have seen a further 15 per cent jump in the time since,” Andy outlines. “This is significantly contributing to the Mayoral target of 30 per cent reliability growth.”

In fact, at the time of writing AP JNP was able to report over 200,000km of failure-free operation on the Jubilee line across a period of three weeks. These are significant figures for some of the Asset Performance issue 130 bbusiest lines on the Underground and indicate that with the lines working even harder to support greater capacity, the successful operation of them is working. It also provides a solid foundation upon which future increases in demand can be supported.

“The Underground at the moment is a phenomenal operation. What we do day-to-day is fantastic and is driven by people who are the best in the business,” Andy continues. “However, the pace at which it is evolving on a much wider level is also remarkable with a number of major capital and upgrade projects in place. You just have to look back at the Jubilee line extension, the DLR, the Metropolitan line with its air-conditioned trains and new signalling, plus the stations upgrades and Crossrail projects ongoing to see how quickly it is developing. For us it’s incredibly exciting and we just need to make sure we keep doing more of the same, delivering the best performance for the best cost, whilst striving to get better all the time.”

Indeed, even over the immediate short-term outlook for AP JNP’s operational scope there are new projects to deliver. Managing the challenging timetable changes coming up in 2017 and supporting the New Tube for London programme on the Piccadilly line, the fourth busiest line on the network, will both be significant parts of ensuring London Underground can keep up with a rise in demand.

As highlighted in the previous feature it is clear that for AP JNP, the future very much lies in the implementation and development of an analytical railway in an effort to maximise the potential operation of a line. “We can’t sustainably work as hard as we do today to deliver the performance we do today,” Andy says. “We’ve got to work smarter, and by improving the resilience of and the systems within the assets combined with clever engineering I am confident that we will be able deliver this extra performance. It’s about applying the digital railway and analysing this performance to ensure that we can predict and respond to impending failures before they happen, therefore maintaining the reliable flow of traffic that is essential to the new levels of capacity.”

This is what the future for AP JNP, and indeed the London Underground as a whole, looks like. “It’s a bit cliché, but it really is about doing more of the same,” says Andy. “It’s a very exciting place to be and there’s lots to do, so making sure we can maximise the performance for the right cost will remain the core of our business as we continue supporting the network’s growth.”