DfT envisions the trains of the future
The Department for Transport’s 2nd Rolling Stock Perspective outlines its thoughts, suggestions and aspirations for the passenger train of tomorrow.
Citing research undertaken by Transport Focus, the DfT says overall passenger satisfaction with rolling stock has remained stubbornly low at around 80% for five consecutive years.
More standardisation is needed so stock can be moved around the network. Vehicle lengths and door positions should be standardised; greater uniformity is needed for train heights and widths; and less variation in couplers and on-board control systems would enable trains of different types to work together.
The Department would like to discuss these issues with the TOCs, ROSCOs and Network Rail.
The DfT also says that future trains need to be lighter to reduce track damage, and a long term view on train liveries is required to avoid the need to repaint stock when franchises change hands.
Staff shortage is another area of concern; over 40% of the workforce employed in the rolling stock industry (on both the manufacturing and operating sides) is over 50 years old.
The DfT says good progress is being made in complying with accessibility regulations – the number of newly-built and refurbished stock brings the tally up to 63% – but there must be 100% compliance by 2020.
It is also keen to encourage investment in innovation: Three new franchises will contribute a percentage portion of their annual turnover for three years into a common fund ‘to support innovative solutions’.
The DfT’s agrees with the RDG’s assessment that there will still be a need for self-powered rolling stock vehicles in the future. This is likely to be a mix of pure diesel, diesel/hybrid and bi-mode (diesel and electric) traction forms. By 2045 self-powered vehicles are likely to make up between 5% and 10% of the fleet total. (It is assumed that most traffic will be electrically worked by then).
The Rolling Stock Perspective gives a breakdown of different rolling stock types by the franchised operators. The DfT says it will be produced annually and it welcomes comment from the public.