AS RETIREMENT OF EX-BRITISH RAIL FLEETS ACCELERATES, ROGER FORD CONSIDERS THE MIXED FORTUNES OF THEIR SUCCESSORS
That we live in unprecedented times is no longer worthy of comment. The ‘new normal’ is perpetual uncertainty, or, to quote a senior operations manager, ‘a permanent state of unstable equilibrium’. And while the trains have kept running from the start of lockdown, this has been achieved only through the dedication of the railway’s unsung ‘key workers’ behind the scenes.
That is the reality that pervades this year’s rolling stock reliability review and the (virtual) Golden Spanner Awards. In previous years, the focus of the review has been on continuous improvement: for the rolling stock maintenance depots in the year of the pandemic the challenge has been covering the reduced number of diagrams in emergency timetables. Enhanced cleaning regimes, which have contributed to making a rail vehicle one of the safest places to be in terms of risk of infection, have added to the workload.