The work of those who clean and maintain Britain’s trains goes largely unnoticed by the general public. These are the people who, on a daily basis, wash off graffiti and remove stubborn wads of chewing gum.
However, the industry knows it shouldn’t underestimate the power of a clean train. According to government figures in 2015, the cleanliness of a train’s interior made a 17 per cent contribution to passenger satisfaction – second only to punctuality/reliability.
2017 began with operating companies coming under attack for raising ticket prices while failing to deliver reliable services and seats for many passengers. It highlights how important it is for operators to leave passengers with a positive experience of their service by ensuring carriages are free from litter, with clean seats and carpets. It will go some way towards maintaining and improving customer satisfaction during a time of negative PR for the rail industry.
Train Presentation, one of the three divisions that make up the Komplete Group, provides interior and exterior cleaning services for rolling stock.
Daniel Cartwright, head of Train Presentation, takes a hands-on approach to projects, undertaking a sizeable share of the cleaning work. With 30 years of industry experience, gathered from companies including Bombardier Transportation, Alstom Transport and Railcare, his expertise has proven invaluable in delivering a first class performance, leading his team by example.
DEEP CLEAN PROJECTS
During December 2016, the Train Presentation division successfully completed a project for London Midland (LM) to deliver a special clean of the West Midlands-based electric fleet at Soho Light Maintenance Depot (LMD) in Birmingham. The six-week programme involved a professional deep clean of the passenger areas on the Class 323 fleet (26 x three-car units), paying special attention to interior graffiti (marker pen, paint or leather dye), chewing gum, residue from sticky labels and cleaning light diffusers.
The team worked night shifts, with rostered hours being flexed and adjusted as required to meet the requirements of the local operations and maintenance organisations.
To ensure the skills were in place to deliver the programme, a team of operatives, comprising local labour and experienced personnel, was deployed. A strong emphasis was placed on quality and health and safety, with weekly site visits by Daniel and Jason Coulby, head of operations, who monitored all work being done and conducted in-process checks and internal audits.
Based on the quality of workmanship, LM placed follow-on orders for the deep cleaning of the Class 323 fleet’s driving cabs and then local paint repairs (to restore heavily graffiti vandalised interior hard surfaces) within the passenger saloons.
Komplete Group also successfully completed a project for Arriva Rail North to support a deep clean of its entire Northern fleet. Eight teams, each comprising a team leader and three operatives, were deployed across seven sites, from Heaton (Newcastle) in the North East to the Botanic Gardens (Hull) in the East, to Allerton (Liverpool) in the West.
Key aspects of the project included chewing gum removal, cleaning of kick strips/heater grills, hopper windows and spot steam cleaning of interior hard surfaces where regular heavy cleaning by hand was not sufficient.
For this contract, Komplete Group’s recruitment division was called upon to source the high-calibre operatives. Once again, Train Presentation’s management conducted in-process checks and all necessary internal audits, whilst monitoring and managing all work being completed.
Daniel Cartwright commented, ‘24th July marked the end of an intense period of work across multiple sites in the north of the country. This project is characterised by the sheer quantity and variety of work required by Northern. This included the full interior clean of 762 individual rail vehicles. Four of the seven sites our team worked at recorded 100 per cent attendance records. My thanks go to every member of our teams for the quality of their work.’
FIRST IMPRESSIONS LAST
The exterior of rolling stock is equally important, with the potential to create an excellent first impression as passengers board trains to begin their journeys. Komplete Group offers all levels of rail vehicle cleaning on a project basis or as part of a long-term contract. While the washing of rail vehicle exteriors is largely automated, Komplete Group can provide competent, trained staff to hand-wash the driver’s windscreens, cab front yellow facings and vehicle bodyside recesses – to supplement the automated function.
Other servicing tasks complement the main cleaning project, such as the filling of water tanks and sandboxes along with the operation of Controlled Emission Toilet (CET) equipment to evacuate toilet tanks. In addition, the train presentation division performs trim repairs and spot painting as part of the deep clean, wherever necessary. This reduces vehicle downtime and optimises the availability of train vehicles for service.
Komplete Group has three divisions: Train Presentation, Projects and Recruitment. The Projects division provides engineering solutions on a wide range of rolling stock projects, and has the capability to deliver a full service, from concept to completion. The company’s Recruitment division is an engineering and technically focused recruitment arm providing permanent, contract and fixed term solutions to clients and candidates nationwide and beyond.
Daniel Cartwright is now working with the Fleet Departments of a number of train operators to develop a menu of potential solutions and strategies to drive reductions in rail vehicle cleanliness complaints whilst ensuring a corresponding upturn in National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) scores.
With projects for organisations such as London Midland and Arriva Rail North leading to further contracts across the country, Komplete Group looks to establish an industry standard for returning train vehicles into service quickly, efficiently and to a high level, making it one area of the UK’s rail service that the paying public can rely upon.
First published in RailStaff February 2017