Caring about the future
Arriva TrainCare’s extensive facilities and varied service offerings are playing a vital role in supporting the UK rail industry during what is a significant year of change
In the opinion of companies like Arriva TrainCare – a leading independent UK train maintenance business with five strategically located depots throughout the country – 2019 is set to be something of a transformative year for the UK rail industry. “There is an awful lot of change going on throughout the industry, with a number of significant factors causing spikes in demand,” explains the company’s Head of Commercial & Bid, Russell Fletcher. “These include the withdrawal of old trains, the delivery of new fleet, franchises being let and re-let – and the associated refurbishment and rebranding that comes with this process – and increasing passenger demand for on-board digitalisation and amenities.”
Founded as LNWR in 1993, and rebranded as Arriva TrainCare in 2014, the company has made its name by providing high quality locomotive, track plant, rail traction and rolling stock servicing, maintenance and overhaul. Operating all year round, it offers comprehensive services to Train and Freight Operating Companies (TOC/FOC), Rolling Stock Leasing Companies (ROSCOs), and Rail Vehicle and Maintenance Suppliers for modern electric and diesel trains throughout the UK. Directly employing approximately 300 staff, the company possesses combined workshop space for more than 70 vehicles, heavy lifting facilities for locomotives and rolling stock, high quality vehicle re-paint, overhead lifting and roof access capabilities, and fuelling and overnight servicing facilities at all five depots.
Heading into such an important year for the rail industry, it would have been imperative that Arriva TrainCare came in 2019 on the back of a successful 2018, which Russell is pleased to reveal was indeed the case. “Last year, we greatly developed our customer base, both in the heavy and light maintenance areas of the business. In fact, 2018 was a record year for our heavy maintenance business, with over 160 vehicles undergoing complete overhauls or refurbishments across three depots,” he says. “Meanwhile, our overnight servicing, which has long been the backbone of our business, continues to grow as we take advantage of a very dynamic and rapidly changing marketplace.”
Examples of the company’s recently completed or ongoing projects at its various sites include its work with Arriva Rail North (Northern) in refurbishing and rebranding the interiors of its trains, and the kitting out of digital connectivity tools in its Class 158 units. Similar refurbishment projects can also currently be found taking place at its depots for the likes of Porterbrook, Great Western Railways and East Midlands Trains.
“We also had notable success when it comes to developing new streams of work with various OEMs by making our facilities available for the testing and commissioning of new rolling stock,” Russell continues. “We presently have new build trains within three of our depots, and we hope this source of activity continues to expand in the coming months. A welcome by-product of this work is that it will give Arriva TrainCare the opportunity to forge trading relationships with train builders that we may, or may not, have worked with in the past, that could benefit from working with us in the future in areas such as on-going, day-to-day maintenance of their respective fleet, once in service.”
Having anticipated much of the growth that it has experienced in recent times, Arriva TrainCare also used 2018 to make significant investments in its different facilities and capabilities in order to best support its existing and new customers. “In addition to the replacement of life expired assets, which we routinely carry out, we also recognised the need for more physical space to accept more trains onto our sites,” Russell adds. “Therefore, one of the investments made was to undertake track work and building modifications to allow for an extra three vehicles on site at any one time. We also saw the need to build larger stores to house all of the additional parts needed to carry out modifications, and we have also installed extra spray booth facilities to meet the high level of demand we expected for rebranding work in the run up to various franchises coming up for renewal.”
While the improvement and expansion of its physical infrastructure has been completed, Arriva TrainCare has also continued to invest in its future workforce through its apprenticeship programme. “Essentially, the services that we offer are dependent upon the people we employ being able to deliver them,” Russell affirms. “Therefore, we have to ensure that we also have a healthy pipeline of young engineering talent that we can bring through the business. As such, we continue to work with University Technical College Crewe to identify those individuals seeking career development and opportunities in the rail sector, and to advertise Arriva TrainCare as being a high-quality future employer of choice.
“We also take great pride in the internal upskilling and training work that we conduct with our own people, supporting the industry by growing and developing our own talent. We presently have four current apprentices, and have also provided upskilling pathways through BTEC and HNC qualifications to our own people.”
Considering the various activities documented above, it goes without saying that the rest of 2019 will be extremely busy for Arriva TrainCare. “This year is very much going to be focused around delivering our agenda and assisting our many TOC, ROSCO and OEM customers to meet their own unique commitments and targets for 2019, be it by providing depot space for access and commissioning, by refurbishing trains, or by providing overnight services,” Russell confirms. “Then, with one eye fixed on 2020 and beyond, we will be using the time to establish and solidify long-term partnerships in order to better understand how we can become ever-more flexible and adaptable to their needs. This will allow Arriva TrainCare to continue to expand, albeit potentially in different directions than perhaps we have done so in the past.”