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• £3.2m project to be introduced on mainline services to and from London
• Partnership between South West Trains-Network Rail alliance and Siemens
• Technology linked to further initiatives to boost safety and punctuality
• Plans follow £15m investment in ground-breaking engineering in past two years
The £3.2 million project is being introduced by the South West Trains-Network Rail alliance and leading train manufacturer Siemens.
South West Trains' fleet of 45 Class 444 Desiro trains will be fitted with the technology, which will allow passengers to access websites and email on the move.
The trains operate on the mainline service from London Waterloo via Basingstoke, Southampton and Bournemouth to Weymouth, used by 15 million passengers a year.
New external cameras are also being installed on the Class 444 Desiro fleet, which will use the Wi-Fi technology to assist with track and conductor rail maintenance and monitoring to help improve punctuality.
Within two years, the initiatives could provide a platform to deliver a sophisticated rail traffic management system on the South West Trains network to allow more trains to run in and out of London Waterloo. Nearly 1,700 trains already run in and out of Britain's busiest railway station every week day and more than 200 million journeys are made on South West Trains every year.
The new engineering investment programme is the latest initiative by the South West Trains-Network Rail alliance, which was launched in April 2012 to improve services for customers, cut delays and deliver a more efficient railway.
It also follows a £15 million investment by South West Trains in the past two years in pioneering engineering developments on its Desiro fleets to deliver better train performance for passengers.
Christian Roth, Alliance Fleet Director for the South West Trains-Network Rail alliance, said: “We have already been at the leading edge of rail engineering improvements over the past two years, which are helping deliver a better, safer, more reliable and more efficient railway for our passengers.”
"Moving forward, this new investment in wi-fi technology and other enhancements will provide more productive journeys for our customers and lay the foundation for other significant improvements.”
Steve White, UK Service Director at Siemens Rail Systems, added: “We take a collaborative approach to our relationship with South West Trains, working closely together to continuously improve fleet performance. Ultimately this helps maximise efficiency, increase passenger comfort and drive down industry costs as well as introduce exciting innovative solutions into the UK rail industry. This is a partnership of which we are immensely proud.”
South West Trains was the first UK train operator to use state-of-the-art track ‘listening’ technology, RailBAM®, and to introduce track-friendly hydraulic bushes which help reduce infrastructure damage.
RailBAM® is acoustic monitoring technology, which employs sensitive microphones mounted at the side of the track to listen to every individual axle bearing on each train as it passes. It can detect axle defects or deterioration which can then be addressed more quickly.
Hydraulic bushes wheel technology significantly reduces track damage, cuts infrastructure maintenance costs and provides smoother journeys for passengers. The innovative engineering design – which combines conventional elastomer bushes with a hydraulic system – reduces the force between the wheel and the rail, ensuring better movement on curved track at low speeds.
South West Trains has also introduced coupler heating, which prevents ice forming on the coupler and reduces service disruption caused by freezing weather conditions.
Earlier this year, South West Trains has completed a £2.2m investment programme to fit regenerative braking technology to more than 200 electric trains. It captures energy previously lost and returns electricity to the third rail system, allowing trains in close proximity to draw on the supply. The energy saved annually is enough to power more than 11,500 UK homes.
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South West Trains
• South West Trains operates one of the busiest rail networks in Europe and runs almost 1,700 trains a day from London Waterloo. The company was named as Passenger Operator of the Year at the 2011 National Rail Awards.
• Stagecoach Group is a leading international public transport group, with extensive operations in the UK, United States and Canada. The company employs 35,000 people and operates bus, coach, rail, and tram services.
• Stagecoach is one of UK’s biggest bus and coach operators. Around 2.5 million passengers travel on Stagecoach's 7,700 buses every day on a network stretching from south-west England to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The company's business includes major city bus operations in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Cambridge.
• Stagecoach is a major UK rail operator, running the South West Trains, Island Line and East Midlands Trains networks. It has a 49% shareholding in Virgin Rail Group, which operates the West Coast inter-city rail franchise.
• Stagecoach also operates the Sheffield tram network.
• In North America, Stagecoach operates around 1,900 buses and coaches in the United States and Canada. Budget coach service megabus.com links around 80 key locations in North America. Stagecoach is also involved in operating commuter and transit services, as well as tours, charters, sightseeing tours and a small number of school bus services.
Siemens was established in the United Kingdom 169 years ago and now employs 12,972 people in the UK. Last year’s revenues were £4.4 billion*. As a leading global engineering and technology services company, Siemens provides innovative solutions to help tackle the world’s major challenges, across the key sectors of energy, industry, infrastructure & cities and healthcare. Siemens has offices and factories throughout the UK, with its headquarters in Frimley, Surrey. The company’s global headquarters is in Munich, Germany.
As part of the Siemens Infrastructure & Cities Sector, Siemens Rail Systems Division provides expertise and technology in the full range of rail vehicles – from heavy rail to metros to trams and light-rail vehicles. In the UK, the Division employs around 650 people and maintains over 350 Siemens passenger trains for South West Trains, First TransPennine Express, Heathrow Express, National Express East Anglia, Northern Rail, London Midland and ScotRail.
* Data includes intercompany revenue. Data may not be comparable with revenue reported in annual or interim reports.