Slade Green Depot fleet, via Southeastern

‘Networker’ fleet maintenance completed ahead of time using in-house approach

The time taken for a Southeastern engineering team to maintain its key fleet of Class 465 Networker trains has been slashed through bringing the works in-house.

The new system removes the need to lose a train for up to three weeks as it is shunted to a depot hundreds of miles away, instead seeing Southeastern keep the heavy-duty C6 maintenance programme at the Green Depot in south east London.

Over the course of a two-year span between 2021 and 2023, an engineering team has spent one week period delivering key maintenance procedures on each unit, conducting upkeep works involving couplings, brake control units, suspension, seals and hoses.

This in-house approach for the 97-unit strong fleet has seen major monetary savings, ensuring that the rolling stock has spent less time out of service, whilst allowing the team to maintain higher standards of quality control whilst improving the links between the operator and the supply chain organisations for the train parts.

Nick Hancock, Depot Manager for Southeastern at Slade Green, said:

“These trains are around 30 years old, and a lot of the technology, including electrical circuitry, isn’t around anymore, which means that there is some obsolescence. It’s a bit like running a vintage car for 400 miles every day and expecting its reliability to be what it was when it was new.”

“Year-on-year, they’ve improved reliability or maintained the status quo when compared with similar fleets across the UK. It’s testament to everyone who works in the Metro team. It’s one of the older fleets in the UK, but out-performs units 10-15 years younger.”

“Though we were streamlined anyway, this was innovative. We had to change our working practices from the way it had been done since 2013. The majority of those working on the project were ex-contractors who had taken on full-time positions, with many years’ experience using traditional methods of overhaul. The shunting team supported. We’ve maintained quality in-house.”

“This new approach has proved quicker, more reliable, and ultimately a better product for the customer – maintaining safe and reliable operation of these trains for years to come”.

Works at the Slade Green Depot, via Southeastern

The decision to prolong the life of the Networkers was made in January 2021, with the Slade Green shed already being set up for mileage based C4 maintenance. Using this as the building blocks to expand upon, C6 works were undertaken on traditional maintenance roads, with no pit to work from seeing workers adopt new procedures to split and join coaches, whilst undergoing fresh risk assessment.

C6 Programme Lead, Production Manager Steve Lloyd added:

“We were fortunate in that we had recently completed the C4 overhaul programme at Slade Green, along with a significant modification package on our Metro Fleets. We were able to use what we learned and apply these to C6. This helped us to develop new ways of working and improved communications, as well as formation of a cross functional management team with individual areas of responsibility.”

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