We’ve all seen news-stories of unhappy commuters complaining about over-crowded trains, having to wait for trains that never arrive, or being stranded on a broken-down train in the middle of nowhere.
Does it really have to be this way? Can anything be done to improve this situation? A common impression appears to be that train maintenance has been neglected or that adequate maintenance is too expensive.
This may be partly true. But the solution is not just to invest more money on maintenance.
Here is our perspective: what is missing, above all, is a comprehensive view with a life cycle perspective on procurement, vehicle fleet management, and infrastructure.
What does this mean? For starters, formulating the right procurement specifications and selecting the right type of vehicle – and taking control over the long-term consequences. This makes it easier to build a maintenance structure with the right capacity in terms of depots, engineers and spare parts.
The vehicles will have the right specs. The maintenance organisation will be optimised to handle what it needs to handle. Operational disruptions will be reduced and costs will be controlled.
By following up and utilising the knowledge gained by operating for some time, we can continue to improve reliability and cost control gradually.
Most of all, travellers like you and I will be able to count on the fact that the train, bus or airplane we are waiting for will have undergone timely repairs when needed and that it will arrive on schedule. This way, public transport as a whole will be more attractive, for everyone.