A record number of trains are due for refurbishment, but train operators are concerned that the warranties on LED lights for trains are inadequate, and that installing new lighting systems will leave them tied to one supplier.
‘Just like consumers are looking for a replacement that fits their bayonet fitting or Edison screw, rail operators don’t want to have to take out the whole ceiling to put a new system in’
Train operators have voiced their concerns at recent meetings with representatives of their supply chains.
Speaking to Lux at yesterday's Lighting for Rail conference in London, Robert Hopkin, executive director of Rail Alliance, said: ‘If there is a rolling stock lighting warranty for 100,000 miles and the service interval is 500,000 miles, a train operating company probably isn’t going to be that interested in it. Lighting companies need to educate themselves as to what the train operating companies need.’
Train operating companies present at the bi-annual forum, which invites all the train operating companies in the UK as well as train owners and OEMs, had also expressed frustration about not being able to find direct replacements for old products.
‘Just like consumers are just looking for a replacement that fits their bayonet fitting or Edison screw, rail operators don’t want to have to take out the whole ceiling to put a new system in,’ Hopkin said.
Compatibility and replacement issues make operators apprehensive about investing in new technology. ‘If you have to replace an existing lighting system with a whole new system of drivers and luminaires and controls, that makes you dependent upon that manufacturer. So when it comes to maintenance, you’ve essentially gone down the sole supplier route. And who is to say that in five years’ time, that supplier will still be supplying spares for that equipment?’
Trains often remain operational for 30-40 years, so refurbishments are the norm. A high number of trains are currently due for an overhaul, which gives rail operators a chance to upgrade their on-board lighting.
In the last 18 months, a much higher number of train sets have been coming into service than in the recent past: '11.4 locomotives per month, compared to just under five in the previous five-year period,’ said Hopkin. ‘That gives loads of opportunities to innovative and technical solutions to existing and future problems.’