Transport for Wales trains are travelling more than 2,000 miles further before they develop a fault, after key improvements were delivered by the fleet team.
The increase in reliability since October 2018 means those trains can effectively travel twice round the entire Wales and Borders network before needing any sort of repair (miles per technical incident).
And while COVID-19 has seen fewer trains running, those customers still travelling between October and December 2020 enjoyed a 24.4% improvement in on-time performance against the previous in 2019.
Transport for Wales’ Head of Customer Experience and Innovation Barry Lloyd said: “Punctuality always comes top when we look at the drivers of customers satisfaction, so it’s fantastic to see this recent improvement in performance.
“A fantastic achievement from all involved and one that our customers would have welcomed.”
The improvements helped TfW become the third-most improved TOC in Britain during that period, according to the ORR. The improvements have also been key in fleet hitting availability targets every day for more than a year.
New performance technicians, better reporting, live availability targets and the introduction of wheel slide protection have all contributed to trains being in service for longer.
New (Wabco) compressors fitted to the 15x fleet have also led to a 91% increase in air system reliability.
In addition, 2020 saw greater collaboration between Transport for Wales and Network Rail with the Joint Seasons Management Group delivering targeted workstreams to help improve performance.
Of those seeing the largest benefits, the Class 150s, 153s and 158s have recorded between 36% and 60% improvements.
In October 2018, Class 150s typically travelled 6,507 miles before developing a fault. They now average 8,857 miles. But most improved have been the Class 158s, which are predominantly used on the Cambrian Line. Traveling 5,783 miles between faults in 2018, they can now go 9,253 miles.
Essentially that means they can make the 168-mile journey between Pwllheli and Birmingham International an additional 20 times.
Head of Fleet Jonathan Thomas said: “The new measures we’ve put in place coupled with targeted investment and a lot of hard work has significantly paid off.
“With our 15x fleet all averaging more than 2,000 miles longer in service before a technical incident is incredible.
“To deliver these performance figures on trains built more than 35 years ago shows just what can be achieved with targeted investment and key changes.
“Keeping our trains out on the network for longer has massive benefits for customers and gives us more time to work on other train improvements.”
Planning and Performance Director Leticia Frank said: “These improvements are fantastic and show just what can be achieved through targeted investment and action.
“Our customers deserve to have the confidence in us that we are delivering an incredibly reliable service they can trust, and they have really seen that over the last year. Our partnership with Network Rail and close alignment is fundamental to achieve this.
“The work the fleet team has done is remarkable, and our delivery teams that provide the service daily deserve recognition for improving On Time, at every stop. Our planning teams work closely with operations to ensure adjustments to service are made to serve customers where they most need it. These challenging times required more timetable changes than ever before, and we have taken every opportunity to make timing adjustments. All these are translated into in these results and we will continue towards our goal of being the best performing operator in Britain.”
The Class 170 fleet were introduced in December 2019 and the first Class 769 in November 2020 and already both have seen huge improvements in reliability. The 175 fleet remains consistent with its reliability.
Photo credit: Transport for Wales