Our fleet of vehicles and machinery works hard all year round.
It plays a crucial role in keeping the railway safe for passengers and freight operators, such as each autumn, when 61 specialist trains and vehicles minimise the impact of leaf fall and help reduce the chances of delays.
The broader fleet’s coverage includes infrastructure monitoring, maintaining and renewing tracks, and inspecting and clearing drainage.
A railhead treatment train, new measurement vehicle and multi-purpose vehicle
Here are five things you didn’t know about our fleet:
Our fleet teams have 24/7, 365-day access to a helpline to support moving them around the network, helping to manage when incidents occur, as well as to report the critical information directly across the network including each Route Operating Control.
We own around 1,000 wagons. These mainly carry aggregates such as ballast and remove waste from work sites. They’re typically hauled by locomotives owned by freight operating companies (FOC), but some are part of High Output convoys instead. Among our wagons, there are box wagons to remove waste; autoballaster wagons with ‘trap doors’ at the base that release ballast directly beneath, onto the track; and tilting wagons to position switches and crossings during track renewal work.
High Output ballast cleaner - our longest train
Our rail delivery train carries 108m rails from where they are manufactured, at the British Steel plant in Scunthorpe, to be welded into 216m lengths at our long welded rail depot in Eastleigh, Hampshire. Around 50 per cent of our rails from Scunthorpe go here, but the other 50 per cent are welded on site to be used for High Output track renewals.
Not all our fleet teams use machines that run on rails. Our Air Operations team makes use of a helicopter and unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs, or drones). We also have on-track plant that can travel on the roads as well as the railway. Examples include diggers, vehicles to inspect and clear drainage, mobile flashbutt welders (to weld the rails), track movers (which pick up and move track), and some of the vehicles we use to inspect and renew overhead wires.