Network Rail spent £36M to replace its grinding trains which remove layers of metal from the railhead to keep the track in good condition.
Loram and Colas Rail worked with Network Rail to design, build and maintain the new models which will replace old grinding machines.
Network Rail says the three new trains will cost £1,000 less per shift, deliver 35% more output, have increased reliability, better facilities for the teams working on them and are expected to last for the next 30 years.
Network Rail project manager Leevan Finney said: “This has been a fantastic example of different parts of the rail industry working together to deliver new and innovative solutions which ultimately improve the railway for passengers.
“By working together we have been able to deliver a safer, more cost-effective, productive machine which also provides a more comfortable working environment for our people to work in.”
Each 150m grinding train cost £12M and can remove more metal due to more productive grinding at speeds of up to 15mph. The trains have increased transit speeds of up to 70mph meaning they can get around the network quicker and impact fewer passenger and freight services.
new grinding train front
The modular machines can be attached together to make a larger machine, which also means faster replacement of parts and components.
Network Rail managing director for route services Susan Cooklin said: “The old machines were becoming unreliable and inefficient so the investment in the new grinding trains was absolutely essential to keep the tracks in good condition to minimise the chance of defects and to keep passengers safely moving across the network.”
The new models carry more water to prevent smouldering, an obstacle avoidence system to limit impact of track side furniture and have equipment and welfare facilities on board for a more comfortable working environment for the teams.
Two of the machines are in use and the largest one will be in service over the Christmas period after it has completed dynamic testing.