Back in 2002, in the UK, the increased investment in new, high-tech trains was beginning to be seen across the network, from the dedicated Heathrow Airport Rail Link and the replacement of ageing slam lock door coaches to the tilting technology of the Virgin ‘Pendolinos’. In addition to the electrified routes, new environmentally friendly diesel power is being used for regional services, whilst freight continues to grow, with some interesting initiatives, including inter- modal, self-propelled trains.
The new vehicles featured a wide range in the use of the latest ideas and innovations in engineering design, and the development and application of new manufacturing processes. At the heart of new designs of locomotive and rolling stock has always been the drive for improved reliability, ease of maintenance and overall performance improvements, leading to reduced lifecycle costs.
One interesting innovation was more business management than technology based, and driven by the privatisation of train operations. For the operator, orders for new trains included maintenance packages, with, as in all good business deals, the suppliers taking a share of the project risk.
To illustrate the major changes that were beginning to come into everyday use, I contributed a number of elements in the 2002 issue of “Engineering” magazine.
You can read the rest of the feature I wrote on aspects of locomotive engineering and technology in this PDF: