Rail Access for Hitachi

Rail Carriage Roof Access

Rail Access for Hitachi

The Challenge

Gaining access to trains for maintenance or repair work has the potential to be unsafe and pose a threat to the workforce; therefore, to mitigate this, it was essential to ensure the correct equipment for maintenance staff to perform their duties at the Hitachi Ashford depot.  

Falls are the biggest cause of death in the workplace and according to the Health and Safety Executive there were 148 fatal injuries in the UK for the year 2012/2013.  While this is approximately a third lower than 20 years ago it is vital for companies to do all they can to avoid this happening at all.   The Work at Heights Regulation 2005 put legal responsibilities on employers to ensure that equipment, used to facilitate working at any heights above ground level minimises the risk of falling and offers protection for workers.

Hitachi found itself in a position where some of the existing maintenance equipment was failing with need for urgent attention but with no system in place for maintenance support.   Equipment no longer in use required replacement rather than sitting redundant.

There was also the issue that the new Javelin train required access equipment of a different shape to that which was held, in order to accommodate the new front profile.

Solving the Problem

The first step was to ask Semmco to conduct a thorough survey of the existing 87 point boxes and all access equipment already held at the site.  Semmco was asked to undertake this as a result of previously providing pit boards which had resulted in creating safe crossings with handrails for maintenance on couplers.

A schedule was drawn up detailing existing equipment in need of attention and the order of priorities.  This survey also highlighted what further installations were necessary to enable the maintenance team to complete their checks safely and efficiently.

The companies worked together to plan the fit out with Semmco designing and engineering equipment where there was a gap in requirements.  Semmco was tasked manufacturing the required equipment which was undertaken in their new, purpose built facility in Woking.  

Types of new equipment produced were:

  • Front and roof access
  • Fall arrest system
  • Walkway crossings

The design used bolting rather than welding for extra strength, multi castor wheel for easy position change between roadways, light weight aluminium with steel chassis for easier manoeuvrability and multifunctional platforms to the highest safety standards.

Some of the equipment notably that for the Javlin train, was intricate enough to require Semmco to build it on the Hitachi site.  Polyprop protective edge padding was used to ensure a tight fit to the train whilst ensuring no damage occurred to the vehicle.

To cover the need for maintenance and servicing, Hitachi introduced Semmco’s Service Package to provide regular inspections and re-certification of not only their equipment but that of Hitachi’s existing equipment.

The Benefits

The clear benefit of the equipment’s design was that the maintenance team could complete their checks and repairs safely and efficiently.  It meant that Hitachi are always ahead of their tasks, able to schedule and budget with complete visibility of costs. 

The design and quality of the new equipment along with its longevity and robustness ensured it was superior to other products on the market.   

The Service Package meant that equipment that had been a capital outlay was not sitting idle and unusable so ensuring downtime is kept to a minimum, thus making for a more efficient business.  Hitachi staff were able to be redeployed from these tasks being done by one supplier with one point of contact.  The depot was now fully equipped with servicing being carried out as needed.


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