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Engineers highlight track maintenance challenges Monday December 5, 2022

The management and repair of track faults proved to be one of the key topics of debate at a recent meeting of light rail engineers from across the UK.

Held at London Trams’ Croydon depot, members of the UKTram Light Rail Engineering Group heard that Transport for Greater Manchester had embarked on a study on the effectiveness of a track ‘grinding’ programme on the Metrolink network.

Investigations were also ongoing into a stud defect that had emerged on parts of the Manchester system.

Phil Terry, UKTram Lead Engineer, explained: “Effective track maintenance is essential for the safe and efficient running of any light rail network, and the meeting provided an ideal opportunity for sector professionals to share best practice.

“The discussion also gave a fascinating insight into the important work being done in Manchester that has the potential to benefit other networks as well as solving a defect that has, so far, only been detected on the Metrolink system.”

During the two-day LREG meeting, the condition monitoring of assets and the methods used to obtain infrastructure data were also explored during a ‘Best Practice’ session that featured presentations by Julian Stow and Prof Adam Bevan from the Institute of Railway Research at the University of Huddersfield.

“The session started with an informative and interesting virtual tour of the research facilities and equipment based at IRR, before the group went on to discuss a series of challenges that are common to all operators,” Phil said. “Funding for more research into these challenges is now being jointly investigated through the partnership between UKTram and the University, with some potential grants being identified.”

“In further discussions, a formal training programme was recommended to help bridge a skills gap within the sector, with the reinstatement of a course on the wheel/rail interface, highlighting the prevention of and understanding derailments, cited as a priority.”

Led by LREG Chairman Ian Hale, Infrastructure Manager at London Trams, the meeting also included updates from the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

“Both organisations highlighted the work being done to make the nation’s tramways and metro systems safer through investigations into recent incidents and the ongoing development of relevant light rail safety guidance,” Phil added.