A closer working relationship between rolling stock manufacturers and privatised rail infrastructure owner, Railtrack, should result in more new technology as the lengthy approval process is shortened.
According to Dee Razdan, engineering director at Derby-based Adtranz, a switch from an adversarial approach to one of mutual understanding should foster a faster approval process.
`Legislation specified that Railtrack and the train operators were responsible for agreeing what could be on the track, with the manufacturers given no route into the process,’ said Razdan.
`Railtrack has now recognised that if you do that no advances in technology can take place, as the manufacturers can only get involved once the contract is signed with the operator.’ At this stage it is too late to introduce new technology – resulting in a fresh safety case approval – `because the trains are wanted in a few months, not years’.
New trains are being delivered but are not used while awaiting safety approval. The approval process has two parts. The first is engineering acceptance, which ensures rolling stock is built to certain mandatory standards, which are the property of Railtrack and The Railway Inspectorate. The second is route acceptance, which says the stock is safe when it interacts with the infrastructure.
Razdan said: `Based upon these new relationships I believe personally that the targets of designing a new train, developing it in conjunction with the Inspectorate and Railtrack, and having it accepted by Railtrack, should take no longer than two years, of which the majority of the time is in the manufacture of the vehicle.’ Railtrack should be involved as a partner in this process from day one, he said.
`If all Railtrack’s involvement was condensed into a period of time it should be six months maximum.’
Adtranz hopes to demonstrate this new working relationship when it delivers its Chiltern Railways contract for four three-car trains.
By Anthony Gould