A train operator has agreed a new maintenance contract in what it claims is an rail industry first.
West Midlands Trains (WMT) is working with Derby-based Porterbrook on the deal which will see the latter responsible for the heavy maintenance and product enhancements of the operator’s fleet.
WMT took over the ‘West Midlands’ franchise from London Midland in 2017 and runs services across Worcestershire, Birmingham, Staffordshire and between the West Midlands and London and the North West.
This new contract follows on from a pilot scheme between the two companies over the past year to work on its Class 172 fleet.
Data analytics developed during this trial showed that 70 per cent of engine failures could be predicted in advance of a service affecting failure occurring therefore improving the reliability of services.
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WMT’s engineering director Zena Dent said: “This new way of working between a train operator and a rolling stock company is yet another example of how we are driving forward to improve passenger services across our network.
“While we are investing over £700 million in new trains to expand capacity, we are determined to ensure our existing fleet continues to perform at its very best.”
Porterbrook’s chief executive Mary Grant added: “Porterbrook is committed to supporting and adding value to our train operating customers.
“By working collaboratively with West Midlands Trains, utilising digital technology and drawing on the asset knowledge of our own engineers, we can jointly reduce costs and provide a step improvement in rolling stock reliability that will benefit passengers.”
WMT’s main diesel maintenance depot at Tyseley in Birmingham is currently undergoing a major refurbishment as the operator prepares to increase its fleet by 25 per cent over the next two years.