Greater Anglia wins award for innovation to improve punctuality and reliability

Published on: Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Last updated: Monday, 11 March 2019

An innovative new train braking system pioneered by Greater Anglia, in partnership with Porterbrook Leasing, has won another award for helping to improve train punctuality and reliability.

Members of the company’s fleet and performance teams received the ‘Rolling Stock Excellence’ prize at the Rail Business Awards last week.

The project to fit a new kind of braking system to Greater Anglia’s Class 156 diesel rural line trains contributed to better punctuality for branch line services during the difficult Autumn season, by helping the trains to cope better in slippery conditions caused by wet weather and falling leaves.

Over the course of three years it also reduced autumn cancellations on local lines by over 90%.

This was the first time such a system – known in the industry as ‘Wheel Slide Protection’ (or WSP) – had been designed for and fitted to Class 156 trains, leading to a major reduction in delays and disruption for rail passengers on regional routes in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and parts of Cambridgeshire.

Like ABS on cars, the new system stops train wheels locking when braking so that they do not become damaged in slippery conditions, which can lead to disruption for passengers.

The project was delivered by Greater Anglia and its project partners, Porterbrook, SNC Lavalin, KBRS and Loram UK Ltd.

Greater Anglia’s Head of Performance and Planning, Keith Palmer said, “We are absolutely delighted to be recognised for an innovative solution and industry first by the teams at Norwich Crown Point, Porterbrook, KBRS, SNC-Lavalin and Loram UK Ltd.

“Some thought that these trains were incompatible with WSP, but our talented team was not deterred and created a bespoke system that has surpassed everyone’s expectations, leading to more reliable services and fewer delays for passengers in the region.”

Due to the success of the project, Greater Anglia invested further last year in fitting its Class 153 trains with the new system, to further improve reliability and punctuality on its branch line services.

As a result of the success of the projects at Greater Anglia, other UK train operators are now starting to fit their fleets with the same upgrade.

The project also received the Engineering award at the Rail Industry Innovation Awards in 2017.