The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has demanded that train operators, rolling stock owners, Network Rail and train builders must co-operate to make sure that all new trains can be used on the infrastructure in the UK as well as the operational systems.
Following the delay to several new train fleets, the ORR has made this demand, especially after the latest delay involved the testing of the Northern’s CAF Class 195 diesel and ‘331’ electric multiple units was suspended. This suspension was put in place because of a problem with the inter car couplings coming into contact with the bodies while negotiating tight bends. However, Northern actually believe that this problem will be rectified prior to the ‘331s’ being put into service in May.
When it comes to giving new trains the authorisation into service, it also means that compliance has been met with regards to the specific Technical Standards of Interoperability (TSI). The TSIs do cover safety aspects although they do not cover all aspects of health and safety. Their main purpose are to ensure that interoperable train operation throughout Europe is possible while making trade possible.
Therefore, all of the relevant organisations need to work cohesively to make sure that all new trains remain compatible with the rail infrastructure in the UK as well as operational systems. There have been cases where train builders have delivered trains that are TSI compliant but continue to have issues when they are presented to the TOCs. As a result, TOCs should take the lead by making sure that the correct systems are implemented so that any changes that come with new trains can be managed effectively.
The delays that were seen with the CAFs Northern units is just one of a number of delays that have been experienced with new fleets. In fact, there have been delays to many fleets including TransPennine Express Mk 5As, Caledonian Sleeper Mk 5s, LNER Azumas, Govia Thameslink Railway Class 717sand London Overground Class 710s, all of which should have been put into service in 2018. Northern also had plans to put three Class 195 DMUs into operation by the time the end of December arrived but that plan had to be rescheduled as problems had become apparent prior to introduction.