New system developed to combat train delays

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COMMUTERS’ woes over delays could soon be a thing of the past as a train company is working on a ground-breaking new system designed to spot power problems.

Southern, which runs services between Hastings, Bexhill, Rye and Brighton, is working with Network Rail in developing the system which detects problems with the connection between the train’s shoe-gear and third rail, which supplies the electrical power to run it.

The company said train faults relating to damaged shoe-gear have caused substantial disruption for passengers, and in the last 12 months, were responsible for more than 25,000 delay minutes to Southern services.

Southern and Network Rail (Sussex) signed up in June to form an alliance aimed at enhancing safety, performance, customer experience and value for money.
One of the projects it is working on is the new on-train monitoring system which detects problems with the connection between the train’s shoe-gear, and the third rail.

A Class 377 train has been modified with the new system, known as Third Rail In-Service Monitoring Equipment or TRIME. Once processed, the results are plotted on a map, highlighting areas where problems have been detected.

Gerry McFadden, Southern’s fleet director, said: “By working with Network Rail on this project we aim to reduce the instances of shoe-gear damage and so reduce delays and reduce costs associated with disruption and maintenance. First results have been really positive which has to be great news for our passengers.”

Mark Ruddy, Network Rail’s managing director Sussex route, said: “We are always looking at ways to make the railway more reliable, efficient and cost-effective. This is an exciting trial which highlights the many areas we can target to achieve this. Working closely with Southern, we will be able to monitor the conductor rail across Sussex and highlight sections which need to be improved. The results will help deliver a more reliable network which will save the industry money and cause fewer disruptions for passengers.”

The TRIME project has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Engineering Innovation of the Year category in the National Rail Awards.

The awards ceremony takes place in September.