Painting perfection
November saw Alstom hit the halfway mark in the huge job of re-painting and overhauling the UK’s fleet of iconic Pendolino trains, as the 28th train rolled out of Alstom’s rail facility in Widnes. The remainder of the fleet, operated by Virgin Trains and owned by Angel Trains, is due to be completed by December 2019.

The repaint is being completed in Alstom’s Widnes modernisation facility, the most advanced in the country. It was built to be able to accommodate the full length of the nine and 11 car trains end-to-end and is the only facility in the UK that can do this.

The Pendolino fleet is receiving a complete re-paint to protect them and ensure they have a successful future on the route. Each train takes two weeks to complete. The work involves stripping back the cars, including exterior fittings, undertaking minor repairs and restoration and comprehensively re-painting, a layer at a time, to prevent corrosion and rust. This protects against wear and tear and will enable the trains to operate as successfully for the second half of their life, as they have done for the first. With advances in paint technology the newly painted trains are finished as well, or better, than when they were first introduced.

Are you sitting comfortably?
New research from train operator, LNER, has revealed the lengths stealthy Brits will go to, to secure a seat while travelling on a train, with almost a quarter admitting to their own seat bagging strategies to ensure they travel in comfort.

Almost 64% of Brits have deliberately lingered near seated passengers just before the train pulls into a station, whilst over a third use the tactic of ‘kestrelling’ (hovering over an apparently vacant seat to wait and see whether it’s free). Thirty per cent regularly ‘coach patrol’ – walk up and down train carriages to search for an available seat – whilst 65% use the ping-pong tactic (frantically turn left and right to figure out which way to go to find a seat).

The research has also revealed some of the awkward moments Brits experience when it comes to finding a seat on the train. Over a half of Brits (56%) have felt too awkward to ask another passenger to move out of their reserved seat or move bags off seats, and half of the nation (51%) would actually prefer to stand or look for an alternative seat than ask a passenger to vacate their reserved seat.

With the introduction of Seat Sensor, a world-first innovation, LNER is encouraging better travel etiquette. Seat Sensor will make it easier for customers to find a seat on its trains via data above seats, a new Seat Finder tool and up-to-date digital maps of free seats via the on-board Wi-Fi portal.

Seat Sensor displays customers’ reservations above their seats using a traffic light system to communicate the current and future status of a seat’s availability: green when a seat is unreserved for the whole journey; amber when a seat is reserved for part of the journey (passengers can check the screen above the seat to check which parts of the journey the seat is reserved for before taking a seat); and a red light when a seat is reserved for the whole journey.

Seat Sensor uses a beam to detect whether a seat is available, replaces paper reservations and delivers electronic reservations in Standard and First Class coaches.

In Brief
Proactive maintenance
GBRf has teamed up with 3Squared to help eliminate avoidable locomotive failures that can cause potentially costly delays on the rail network. The Remote Data Download application (RDD) will stream in near real time from each locomotive data such as fuel and coolant levels and train performance details such as speed and braking. The data will be fed into 3Squared’s RailSmart fleet defect reporting and corrective action programme and analysis of the data will allow GBRf to identify and deal proactively with any issue likely to cause a problem before it happens.

New from the North
In October, Northern unveiled the first two trains in a £500m new fleet that will set new standards for customers using local rail in the north of England. The first of the state-of-the-art new trains were unveiled by David Brown, Northern’s Managing Director and Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister. Due to start entering service by the end of the year, the new trains will mean a step-change in quality for customers, with features such as free customer Wi-Fi, air conditioning, at-seat power and seat reservation systems.

High-speed solutions
TE Connectivity (TE) has developed an innovative electrical roofline solution to support the efficient design of the new Siemens Velaro Novo high-speed trains. “It is a priority for us at TE to co-create solutions with our customers that help enable a more sustainable world. So, we are proud to have developed a low-profile, fully insulated electrical roofline solution that is part of the sustainable innovation for the Velaro Novo high-speed train,” said Thomas Brendel, TE Connectivity’s senior global account manager. “The biggest advantage of TE’s Next Generation Roofline System is the aerodynamic design, which reduces drag and saves energy consumption.” Better overall aerodynamic performance has enabled Siemens to reduce energy use by ten per cent on its high-speed train. The system also contributes to an improved passenger experience by significantly reducing noise.