Page 2: Solving a problem
STEP 1 recognise and define the problem
STEP 2 identify the constraints and decision criteria
STEP 3 identify alternatives
STEP 4 evaluate the alternatives
STEP 5 choose the best solution
The first stage in solving any problem is to recognise and define exactly what the problem is. In this case, the problem was that a large number of rolling stock vehicles needed to be replaced quickly with affordable new trains which would improve safety and provide customers with the modern requirements of a passenger environment.
Once the problem has been recognised, it is necessary to identify the constraints of the potential solution. In other words, any solutions proposed must be able to be put into effect. In September 1996, Adtranz and Angel Train Contracts took up the challenge to solve the rolling stock problem by developing a practical and workable solution.
In normal circumstances, the solution would be simple, i.e. build new trains. In this case, however, there was an alternative - the Classic Concept. The Classic Concept is revolutionary although the idea behind it is very simple. Although the 1,400 Mark 1 multiple unit vehicles are the oldest still in service, there is plenty of life left in the bogies, traction package, brakes and under frames. One possible solution would therefore be to cut off the Mark 1 vehicle above the sole bar and then add a new, strong aluminium upper body. A new crashworthy cab could be put on each driving vehicle and bar couplers at the intermediate ends. The new aluminium upper body would incorporate a modern interlocked sliding door system. This solution would therefore address the safety problems of the current trains.
It was important to evaluate and compare this alternative solution against building completely new trains. Building new trains would take more time and would cost significantly more. It would also require complete Railtrack approval and a period spent
testing the new trains.
The Classic Concept meant considerable savings could be made - altering old trains was less costly than constructing brand new trains and Railtrack acceptance trials would be reduced. There would also be a shorter lead-time between orders and the deliveries of the Classic trains. (Lead time is the time between the order placement and its delivery). The process would help companies gain positive returns from investments and would be a better response to competition from other forms of transport.
Customers would also benefit from the Classic Concept as these trains would be in service sooner and would have a new interior environment with higher safety specifications. After careful evaluation, therefore, it was decided that the best solution was the Classic Concept. It would provide a safe vehicle with a minimum fifteen years’ operational life. Other safety benefits could also be added. For example, the interior could be brought up to the latest crashworthiness and fire standards. The wiring could be replaced and the driver’s environment greatly enhanced. All these benefits could be introduced at much less than
the new vehicle price. So, the Classic Concept was the best solution in theory, but could it be done?
Although Adtranz and Angel Train Contracts have different roles within the railway industry, they have shared goals. Both companies recognised that the old slam door Mark 1 rolling stock had a limited future and had to be replaced by 1st January 2003. The Classic would give passengers what would appear to be a new train. It would not only help to embrace more safety measures but would also deliver passenger improvements at a sustainable cost.