Since April 2016 Network Rail has been the £6.5m mobile maintenance train (MMT) to replace defects on the lines out of Waterloo in Surry and Hampshire.
It has been fixing up to 75 defects a night during its first four months of deployment.
With more than 1,300 miles of track used by over 1,700 trains a day to the south and west of London alone, the track can sometimes develop dents or cracks which have the potential to cause delays to passengers and freight. Repairing such defects typically requires Network Rail to shut sections of track while it is fixed. But with the MMT sections of track can be replaced in as little as two and a half hours during the night when train services are not running.
Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “We now have a dedicated team to react to the causes of delays, who can work in a safe and efficient way. We began using the maintenance train back in April and it’s already proven its worth by clearing 75 defects in overnight shifts. Every one of these had the potential to delay passengers, but we were able to tackle problems quickly overnight, minimising any potential disruption.
“Since we began using the train we have already hosted delegations from Japan and Australia, where they’re keen to emulate our success. It’s evident that this really is the future for running the railway.”
As shown in the short video below, as well as improving the railway for passengers, the train also provides the crew with a protected environment to replace and repair tracks, whatever the weather.
James West-Beard, mobile maintenance train manager for Network Rail’s Wessex route said: “This job can involve working overnight in really tough conditions, a long way from shelter and simple comforts like a hot drink or a proper loo. Most of all, it’s vastly reduced the amount of time it takes to carry out the work and with the all-round lighting, we get pretty much perfect working conditions whatever the weather.”