Planning Support for Operational Testing for West Midlands Trains

British Train Operating Company – West Midlands Trains – is in the process of introducing a new fleet of class 196 units to replace some of their oldest diesel trains.

With the new units, they wanted to increase capacity and improve customer satisfaction, and they required additional planning support to facilitate the operational testing of these new units.

Background

West Midlands Railway(WMR) is a UK-based train operating company that offers rail services in the West Midlands region, including services to and from London Euston and local and regional services.

To improve the capacity of their service and deliver a more enhanced customer experience, WMT is in the process of introducing a new fleet of trains, whose features include intelligent air conditioning, plug and USB chargers at every seat, extra storage space, and most importantly 25% more capacity than the oldest diesel fleets they are replacing.

The brief

WMT needed additional timetable planning resources to support them with the planning of operational testing paths for their new fleet. The project deadlines were often tight, and there were challenges to resolve during path validation and crew availability, so they needed an experienced planner who could work well with all the relevant stakeholders involved in the project and hit the ground running.

As experienced engineers specialising in new rolling stock projects, WMT engaged the services of Encompass Engineering to provide an experienced planner to support them with train planning activities and identify compliant paths for operational testing of their Class 196 and Class 730 units.

The result

Encompass provided an experienced planner, adept at working effectively under pressure, who was able to help WMT validate the paths and seek solutions balancing the needs of WMT against the needs of Network Rail (engineering work) and other operators.

With a good grounding in planning skills, which was well-suited to the needs of the project, the planner was able to provide solutions for the operational paths required and slotted right into the existing team – working well with both the planning team, fleet projects team and Network Rail until the project was completed.

Testimonials

“We needed additional timetable planning resources to support us with the planning of operational testing paths for our new train fleets. Encompass provided an engineer with the skills and experience that fitted the bill perfectly and we were able to successfully plan testing paths across the West Coast and West Midlands routes as a result, supporting the entry into service of our new fleets”

— Mike Hoptroff, Head of Planning, Access & Timetable Strategy, West Midlands Trains

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