Rail franchises operators & contracts

02.10.19

Chiltern Railways trials first UK 3D printed train parts

Chiltern Railways has become the first train operator in the UK to trial 3D printed parts on in-service passenger trains.

The operator has partnered with train leasing company Angel Trains to launch the trial, as well as leading 3D printing and engineering companies, to produce several 3D printed parts. These have included passenger armrests and grab handles, which have been installed on operational trains.

It is expected 3D printing will allow train operators to accelerate the replacement of obsolete parts through easier and quicker access to innovations and improvements, allowing companies like Chiltern to get their vehicles back into service quicker.

Maintenance of trains and customer service quality are also expected to improve through the adoption of 3D printing for parts.

Current lead time for conventional manufacturing methods is around four months for armrests and two-and-a-half months for grab handles. However, using 3D printing, Chiltern was able to have the new parts produced within a week for the armrests and three weeks for the seven grab handles required.

Cost-effective and with a quicker turnaround, 3D printing is seen as a potentially vital part of Chiltern’s future train operation. Much of the operator’s fleet is approaching 30 years old, and so the ability to quickly and efficiently source parts will be crucial to Chiltern maintaining their service and avoiding any potential customer disruptions.

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