New technology to keep rail services in Wales running for autumn > News

Posted: Sat 17th Oct 2020

Updated: Sat 17th Oct

New technology is being used to keep rail services running for autumn as Transport for Wales partners with Network Rail.

A number of key plans were put in place at the start of the year to ensure trains run smoothly, including the autumn which is a challenging time for the rail industry.

Transport for Wales’ ‘Automated Intelligent Video Review’ cameras are part of this “most up to date” technology where they sit on front of trains mapping a thousand miles of track in just four weeks.

Data is fed to Network Rail to target problem areas earlier, such as reducing the risk of tree strikes, debris blocking lines, signals becoming obscured or wheel damage.

Drones are also being used to help, cleaning and sterilising tracks with a new plasma technology programme called ‘PlasmaTrack’.

As well as this new technology, Transport for Wales have stockpiled extra wheels for train repairs and Network Rail will have rapid response teams working continually.

James Price, CEO of Transport for Wales, said: “The autumn season is a difficult time for the rail industry throughout the UK because of poor weather conditions and the effect this can have on our railway tracks and our trains.

“We are working in partnership with our colleagues in Network Rail to ensure we’re utilising the most up to date technology including new AIVR cameras on our trains as well as extra wheel replacements, to ensure that we’re fully prepared this year.

“Last year, through the fitment of Wheel Slide Protection on our trains, we saw a reduction of 57 per cent in damage and trains in for repair. Climate change is heightening the weather risks and challenges on our industry and this further highlights the importance of our Sustainable Development Plan at Transport for Wales.”

Bill Kelly, Network Rail’s Wales route director, added: “Autumn is a challenging time for the whole rail industry but particularly here in Wales and Borders. We are seeing more storms and extreme weather than ever which can have a devastating effect on the railway and leads to delays for passengers.

“That is why Network Rail and our colleagues at Transport for Wales are working closer than ever to ensure we are well prepared for the autumn months ahead. We plan almost a year in advance for autumn and this includes constantly adapting the innovative technologies we use to make sure we can keep passengers safe and moving throughout the season.”

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Staying safe will be the main concern for many rail passengers travelling this autumn, and reliability remains a top priority.

“People expect services to run on time, so it’s important the railway can cope with any challenges the autumn season brings.

“We welcome this partnership and the use of new technologies that will help keep people moving, minimise delays and avoid crowding that makes social distancing difficult.”

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