Northern’s Dirty Diesels! ….

Posted on April 10th, 2010, by The Chairman

We’ve been getting complaints for a few months about the state of the outsides of the trains on our line, particularly the Sprinters.

Here’s a picture of a Sprinter departing Mobberley this morning.

Dirty Sprinter 150140 at Mobberley

On our line with its delightful scenery, people enjoy the views. Trouble is, on a sunny day with the sun reflecting on the filth on the windows, passengers can’t see these views.

We heard that in the very cold spell last December/January the washing plant at Newton Heath depot in North Manchester could not be used. That was 3 months ago. Looking at the trains of other train companies such as Arriva Trains Wales, TransPennine Express and East Midlands, these are spotless.

I’ve asked Northern for their comments.

Let us know if you’ve noticed.


Update as at 9 May.

Things seem to be getting better, but Northern are certainly not there yet.

Here’s a picture of NRM-liveried 156490 on the 1217 to Chester at Piccadilly last Friday.

Grimy NRM-vinyled 156490 ready to work the 1217 Piccadilly to Chester

Very grimy. Sad.

If I get a progress report, I’ll post it.

Please leave a comment

  1. The Chairman Says:

    We hear from Northern that they agree the external condition of many of the class 150 Sprinters and class 156 Super Sprinters is poorer than the rest of the fleet.

    They are looking into why this is and intend to remedy it shortly.

    We will update this with further comments when we hear more.

  2. Insider Says:

    We’ve done a bit of digging around the washplant at Newton Heath and found a few blocked nozzles on both the acid wash and the brush area that needed sorting, so this would not have helped (these have been fixed). Also the brushes are a bit tired, but they will not be replaced in the near term as we are due to get a new washplant at Newton Heath and Blackpool later this year, so this would be a bit of a waste of investment (though once that has been done, we should see an improvement in overall cleanliness).

    We have been carrying out some additional handbashing of units at Newton Heath and also up at Barrow which should help to recover the situation. Having done a bit of digging around the periodic heavy clean (PHC) process, we’ve identified that in some instances the PHC has been cut short to deliver a unit to service and if this happens then the exterior clean is usually the thing that gets missed. This can vary on which unit is pulled, but given the higher demand for 156s and 150s, I guess that they can be more susceptible to being pulled off early and may partially explain why you are seeing more problems with external cleanliness there.

    We’ve instructed our shift production managers to not release units into traffic unless the PHC has been properly finished and hopefully this should help resolve some of this.

    We have recently carried out a Smart event (lean process improvement) on our PHC process to see how we can make this more effective. There is quite a lot of work that needs to be undertaken to realise all these potential improvements (one of which is to start carrying out external cleaning in our Underframe Cleaning Facility earlier in the process and in parallel with some other activity, which would speed up the overall timescale to carry out this task), so once these are in place you should see further improvements.

  3. The Chairman Says:

    Things seem to be getting better, but Northern are certainly not there yet.

    I’ve updated the original post with a picture of NRM-liveried 156490 on the 1217 to Chester at Piccadilly last Friday.

    Very grimy. Sad.

  4. Insider Says:

    Yes, things are improving but it will take a little time to get things back up to where they should be.

    Please bear with us.

    Your views from the frontline are greatly appreciated.

  5. Insider Says:

    An update. The wash plant renewal is still on the cards, but we have not yet finalised dates for it to be installed.

    It’s been delayed as the original plan put forward would have left Newton Heath without any form of wash plant for a number of months which we felt was unacceptable.

    There is now a revised plan which will result in a temporary wash plant being installed to allow us to continue to wash trains, but this will only become available once a new wash plant has been installed at Blackpool as the temporary plant is going to be the one that is currently in use there.

    Overall its unlikely that we will see a new wash plant this side of Christmas, which is a bit disappointing. Having said that, we have been doing some work to enable us to carry out a much better body side wash on units when they come in for PHC, so hopefully that should start to yield some benefit.

  6. The Chairman Says:

    I hear it looks like work may start on the Blackpool plant sometime in the first quarter and Newton Heath would follow on after that.

    Hopefully the “handbashing” will get the worst of the grime off the 150s and 156s in the meantime. On time 156468 was pretty grimy this lunchtime on the 1217 from Piccadilly.

  7. The Chairman Says:

    I heard today that work is to start in March for the replacement washing plant at Newton Heath.

    Roll on!

  8. Insider Says:

    We have now got a temporary wash plant commissioned at Newton Heath which should help things (guess that should count as cutting the first sod on the new wash plant). We’ve also increased the amount of hand bashing we are doing on units to try and make a further impact on this as it is pretty obvious we are still not anywhere near where we need to be with our external cleanliness.

    It will take a little while to break the back of all this and I’m sure a few units will need more than one handbash to get them back to where we’d all like to see them.

  9. Lord Harry of Sodor Says:

    Thank you, Insider. Progress at last and like you say it will take more than one handbash to get the carriages to where they should be.

    I travelled in a class 150 on Saturday and it was a disgrace externally. No point in having a window seat if you can’t see out of the window. Looking forward to seeing some gleaming carriages in the not to distant future.

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