Alstom's cutting-edge move

Precision and efficiency are the top priorities when it comes to testing train bogies. Alstom, global leader in smart and sustainable mobility, has relied on the Schenck Process' MULTIRAIL® BogieLoad system for many years. To cope with an increased workload at its testing site in Crewe, the company recently relocated a system from its Manchester depot to its Cheshire facility – a journey of 27 miles (44.8km) – and had it extensively modernised in the process.

Alstom is the UK and Ireland’s leading supplier of new trains and train services, and a leading signalling and rail infrastructure provider. Alstom have built, or are building, just under 40 per cent of the UK mainline train fleet, as well as the entire fleets in service with London Underground and Dublin Luas.

Alstom’s Longsight depot in Manchester first opened in 1842, at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Today, around 50 trains are inspected and maintained here daily – including the Pendolino fleet of 56 Class 390 tilting trains. They were built by Alstom and are currently used by operator Avanti West Coast along the West Coast Main Line, one of Europe’s busiest mixed-traffic railway routes. 

High-tech testing in Manchester

Since 2008, Alstom has successfully been using the Schenck Process MULTIRAIL® BogieLoad system to test different types of trains being overhauled in the depot. This high-tech device is used precisely, quickly, and flexibly for various bogie types and sizes. The fully electromechanical design with spindle technology, in combination with the fully automatic positioning of the trolley in the centre of the test stand, provides the best conditions for safety, minimal wear and tear, and low maintenance costs. To ensure the highest possible accuracy, Schenck Process engineers have continuously checked the equipment since commissioning and carried out mechanical repairs and software upgrades as required. 

Alstom operates 37 sites across the UK and Ireland and, due to an increased workload at its Crewe facility, the company decided to relocate the Schenck Process MULTIRAIL® BogieLoad system to aid its operations there in 2022. Crewe is home to the UK Centre of Excellence for Bogie and Traction Motor Overhaul, overhauling over 20,000 bogies during the past 10 years for the UK rail market. “For the Class 390 Pendolino fleet, we created a new production line to overhaul 22 bogies per week”, explains Bharat Gopal, Process Improvement Engineer at Alstom. “The process included bolster overhaul, frame overhaul – using rotators – and the Schenck Process press for testing all bogies.” In addition to relocating the existing MULTIRAIL® BogieLoad system, Alstom also requested Schenck Process to upgrade the plant's computer and PLC system, modernise the weighing system, and raise the press frame by 530 mm. 

Successful recommissioning in Crewe

Relocating and modernising a large plant is usually a significant challenge for everyone involved, as many different measures must be implemented: In the first step, Schenck Process adapted the infrastructure for the electronics of the MULTIRAIL® BogieLoad system. During this, the PROXiQ remote access system was also installed. This enables Schenck Process service technicians to access the machine controls around the clock, seven days a week, from any location. Possible faults can thus be detected at an early stage and easily rectified.

Additionally, two new measuring segments for measuring the vertical force acting on the trolleys were installed in the new rail, which was raised to 530 mm. Following the extensive modernisation work, the system was dismantled in Manchester, carefully packed and then transported to the new site in Crewe. The system was installed and prepared for recommissioning with a highly accurate calibration. After final acceptance, Alstom employees were instructed on-site in the operation and handling of the new test stand.

Alstom rates the collaboration with Schenck Process as extremely positive: “The whole project of transferring, upgrading, and commissioning the press was carried out to a tight deadline”, summarizes Bharat Gopal. “During the whole process there was no disruption to bogie overall and testing, both at Manchester and at Crewe.”

MULTIRAIL® BogieLoad: test stand for new or maintained bogies