Rail Technical Services

Providing technical services to the rail industry.

Rail Technical Services

Serco Rail Technical Services (SRTS) are a leader in the provision of rail technical expertise, providing an extensive package of first class services to customers around the world.

We work with organisations across the rail industry, including Network Rail, London Underground Ltd, rolling stock leasing companies, vehicle and equipment manufacturers and train operators.

With over 50 years of experience supporting the rail industry, we are recognised as a leading provider of rail technical services.

We aim to help our rail customers be successful. We do this by drawing on our specialist rail engineering and operations knowledge and bringing it to bear on our customers' business challenges.

We provide technical services to the rail industry in the following areas:

Vehicle Testing and Condition Monitoring Systems

Vehicle Testing and Acceptance

We offer a flexible, multi-faceted testing and analysis service which enables us to support our customers' needs, whether investigating vehicle service problems, providing baseline data for design studies, or the testing of new or modified products.

Examples of our capabilities include:

  • Brake and wheel slip testing
  • Vehicle stability and internal vibration measurement
  • Dynamic pantograph performance and tuning measurement
  • On-train electrical measurement
  • Strain measurement
  • Commissioning and service introduction of new vehicle fleets.

Condition Monitoring Systems

We also specialise in the development and installation of monitoring systems specifically tailored to particular customers' needs enabling both short and long term condition monitoring of rolling stock and infrastructure systems. Recent examples of such installations include:

  • Long-term in-service recording of freight wagon suspension displacements, location and speed as part of an accident investigation
  • The monitoring of forces and stresses in switch and crossing installations to enable their behaviour under train passage and temperature extremes to be better understood.

Information Brochure

Unattended Pantograph Monitoring Systems

We are at the forefront of continuous, in-service overhead line monitoring for the rail industry.

Serco's extensive experience in pantograph testing and overhead line monitoring enabled us to develop an unattended pantograph monitoring system in partnership with Transmissions Dynamics Ltd.  This system needed to be capable of being fitted to vehicles operating in passenger carrying service and has been designed to automatically detect and report the type of faults which lead to pantograph damage and possible de wirement incidents.

The fitting of this instrumentation to trains operating in normal passenger service enables monitoring across large parts of the infrastructure on a daily basis and at line-speed without the need to run additional, specialist test trains.

The Unattended Pantograph Monitoring System combines the latest innovative technology to provide:

  • Accurate locations of incidents using GPS coordinates
  • Real time alerts of incidents
  • Real Time Data Streaming via Bluetooth
  • Signal waveform and context data for post analysis using comprehensive viewer software
  • Statistical mapping of events location according to a number of variables (train speed, coordinates, direction of travel, time and date)

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We offer a full component failure investigation service using a variety of techniques including the following:

  • Visual examination to identify wear patterns, damage, corrosion, etc.

  • Fracture examination to establish failure mode (rapid, progressive) and origin

  • Metallographic examination of the origin of failure to investigate any defects, microstructural features, heat treatment, etc.

  • Materials analysis including microstructure examination, hardness testing, material composition and mechanical properties.

We also offer the following additional services:

  • Tailored support services for ongoing customer issues, such as rail defects, which are handled on a call-off basis

  • Materials testing to establish type and properties of components for which the original documentation may be inadequate or obsolete

  • Condition assessment of components to investigate the extent and significance of any degradation in service due to e.g. wear, corrosion, etc. and identify if any cracking has occurred

  • Static load testing of a variety of components such as springs to assess their compliance with drawing requirements

  • Testing of bolted joints to investigate the relationship between bolt torque/extension and use these results to optimise the torque applied during fitting

  • Provision of materials selection advice and consultancy to manufacturers and suppliers.

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Non-Destructive Testing and Training

Rail Technical Services Derby operates a BINDT / PCN approved training and examination centre supported by 3 PCN Level 3 Instructors / Examiners.

Serco also supplies Bearing / Wheelset Related Training Services delivered by our Bearing and Wheelset specialists.

Additional services supplied include:

  • On-Site Production NDT Support
  • Production Component NDT Support in our workshops at Derby
  • Consultancy relating to:
    • Test Procedure Development / Optimisation
    • New Test Technique Development / Validation
    • New Test Equipment Validation
    • PCN Level 1 and Level 2 Operator Support
    • Suspect Signal Independent Verification Service
    • Audit of NDT Facilities / Staff and Equipment
    • ASNT Written Practice Authorship / Approval
  • A full manufacturer independent Bearing / Wheelset Failure investigation Service.

Information Brochure

Data Management (Raildata)

Our Data Management specialists "Raildata" have been providing professional data management services to the rail industry, its suppliers and many other railway contractors since privatisation in the mid-1990s.

Raildata owns and develops the Parts And Documentation System (PADS) and its support services to meet changing industry requirements over time. PADS is a relational database holding over 650,000 component records, 450,000 drawing records and 65,000 maintenance document records with over 3,000,000 relational links. A further 75,000 component records held in PADS have been accepted by Network Rail for use on their infrastructure applications.

PADS is firmly established throughout the UK rail industry and through its web portal "PADSnet", is available to more than 150 railway companies, manufacturers and suppliers both nationwide and globally.

The understanding of the design configuration of railway-related assets is fundamental to the management of engineering change. The many links within PADS to the circa 1,500 vehicle class references provide the ability to identify specific records to the appropriate vehicles and these can be linked in a structured manner within the database.

Commercial Confidentiality is another key consideration when managing data.  Raildata's experience in co-ordinating multi-business information through strict access control regimes has been proven over many years.

Regarding version control; access to PADSnet provides the user with real-time information as to the latest versions of documentation and the controlled version available to specific parties. Notifications are provided as-and-when versions change; enabling businesses to meet all of their document control and quality system requirements.

Data packaging permits the management of data sets, which are often important for tendering exercises or contractual agreements. Through the PADS "e-library" functionality, Raildata provides and manages customised data sets, identifying any changes to the data within them, which can then be evaluated commercially prior to implementation for tender purposes or for contract variation.

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Strategic Asset Solutions

We provide asset management software and consultancy services to the rail industry, enabling our clients to reduce whole life costs through better asset management plans and improved asset information, for example: 

  • We develop investment decision-support software tools and associated information systems for track, vehicles (wheelsets) and trains to help improve performance, manage risks and reduce costs by targeting renewals, maintenance and inspection. For example, we have developed the Vehicle-Track Interaction Strategic Model (VTISM) and the Wheelset Management Model on behalf of RSSB, the Vehicle-Track System Interface Committee (V/T SIC) and Network Rail
  • We undertake software requirements analysis, functional specification, development and testing of asset management-related databases and web-based applications
  • We provide engineering consultancy for individual clients as well as collaborating in industry research projects, relating to:
    • Track and wheelset deterioration modelling and impact on track and vehicle costs
    • Whole life costing and investment scenario analysis
    • Optimisation of track and wheelset renewals, maintenance and inspection activities
    • Risk and reliability analysis
  • We support, review and apply best practice in asset management processes and information systems development
  • We provide bespoke training to clients, industry training in the use of decision-support tools such as VTISM and helpdesk support.

Information Brochures

To find out more about our services and how we might be able to help you, please use the contact form or telephone 01332 262672.