The St. Rollox class 08 shunter "St. Rollox" (08 568) with Scottish Region members.
© John G. Fender, 2010
The visit to Alstom's Springburn facility, began with a presentation that began with a presentation by our hosts, Iain Rae and George Hay. They provided some background history of the works and then detailed the various types of work carried out and looked at the logistics involved in current rail vehicle maintenance.
The Springburn site has 5 acres of workshops in a site that covers 17 acres in total and currently employs around 160 full time staff. The works were originally built in 1856 by the Caledonian Railway and built their steam locomotives as well as carriages. In 1926 the works switched to railway vehicle maintenance and this is carried on to this day. Between 1856 and 1986, the site occupied 45 acres and at its height, employed over 3,000 skilled workers. However, with the reorganisation of the rail industry in the 1980's the site was reduced in size and today a Tesco supermarket occupies the adjacent part of today's works.
As the works has a direct rail connection to the rail network, rail vehicles can be delivered by rail, although it is in many cases more cost effective for them to be delivered by road and many logistics companies are now competing for this business. Alstom Springburn can undertake level 5 classified repair work and offers a wide range of services including bogie removal and repair, traction motor maintenance, roof corrosion repairs, and power unit repairs. There is also a grit blasting facility for bodies, roofs and components, such as bogie frames. Repairs to wheels is also a major area of work, including the provision of new axles, tyres, brake disks and bearings.
Vehicle overhauls are undertaken covering electric multiple units (currently classes 314, 318, 320 and 321), diesel multiple units (classes 150, 153, 156 and 158) electric locomotives (classes 86, 87 and 90) and diesel locomotives (classes 33, 37 and 47). Mark 2 and 3 carriages are also overhauled, including interior refurbishment and repainting. Also present in the workshops were Class 20 locomotives of DRS and a freshly painted class 37 locomotive.
Springburn has developed a high level of expertise in overhauling bogies and specialises in those fitted to electric locomotives of classes 86, 87 and 90. Diesel locomotives (classes 20, 37, 47 and 66) in addition to coaching stock (B4's B5's), Class 314, 318, 320 Electric Multiple Units. Also overhauled are Irish rail's BT22 bogies. Bogie overhauls include the bogie frames, brakes, suspension and dampers, air reservoirs, axleboxes and traction rods.
A particular problem that was causing concern was the high failure rate of the bearings on BT10 bogies and Springburn came up with a solution that has cured the problem. This was achieved by careful investigation of the cause of the problem. This was found to be misalignment of the axleboxes and by improving the bogie bracket positions together with a new axlebox rectification process and new bogie assembly methods to tolerances of 0.005 mm over 3 metres, the problem has been cured.
Springburn also has an Accident Damage Centre of Excellence and has undertaken work on most vehicle types operating on Britain's railways. In addition the centre has completed repair contracts for Eurostar, Heathrow Express and is currently working on a contract to repair two London Underground "D" class vehicles. In undertaking this wide range of work, Springburn has developed new construction methods including bodyskin stretching and heat spotting. Also undergoing repair at present is a class 158 unit and members were able to inspect the work in progress as well as receiving a detailed explanation of the work needed and how it would be done.
The Scottish Region would like to thank Iain Rae and George Hay of Alstom for their hospitality and taking the time to explain the various processes to members.
Report by John Fender.
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