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In the lab
Southeastern and Southern railways deliver increased performance and availability during London 2012 with the support of SGS rail services.

Operated by leading transport company Govia, Southeastern and Southern provide vital commuter train services from their central London terminals across the south of the UK. On average they provide over 300 million passenger journeys each year.

Of course, providing smooth running services throughout the year is paramount to their success. However, during the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, demand rose to new heights. Described as the UK’s largest peacetime logistical operation, the Olympics presented a huge transport challenge. In addition to hosting the Games, there was also a series of non-sporting events taking place around London and the UK. London 2012 was billed as the first ‘public transport’ Games, aiming for 100 per cent of spectators to arrive by public transport, walking or cycling.

Greater Performance

As operators of major London destination railways, it was critical that Southeastern and Southern managed the challenge of London 2012 quickly and efficiently. This was a once in a lifetime event. And there was only one chance to get things right.

John Killeen, Head of Fleet for Southern, explains: “The challenge of London 2012 meant increased ridership, changes in peak demand and the high level of public focus on performance delivery and service quality. In particular, Southern had to deliver significant increased rolling stock availability over the Olympic period.”

To meet the needs of London 2012 and ensure maximum availability, Southern and Southeastern looked for a partner that could help them find ways to increase the availability of their fleet. The company selected SGS.

John says: “The SGS team was able to bring their experience and strategic insights to support the fleet strategy to deliver this unique project. We chose SGS due to our close working relationship on previous successful projects. SGS provided dedicated 24/7 resources to support the fleet team in the delivery of the Olympic strategy.

Peter Heasman, Head of Engineering Projects, Southeastern:

"London 2012 went better than we could have possibly hoped for, and, as a result of the time saved through SGS’s work, we were able to meet our objectives.”

Fast Track Planning

Beginning with Southeastern, SGS developed a strategy to free-up rolling stock during the Games. It began by mapping out how the Southeastern fleet would be maintained and cleaned over the Olympic period. This included suspending overhaul programmes, bringing forward heavy cleaning activities and altering the maintenance regimes to increase availability.

With its maintenance expertise, SGS was able to develop the detailed justification required to extend the maintenance exams on all fleets, so only essential maintenance was completed during the Olympic period. The maintenance justification documents were scrutinized by the SGS certification team to ensure that the changes to the maintenance plan would not affect the safe operation of the fleet.

To make sure Southeastern were fit for the Games, SGS conducted an audit of preparations, ensuring that all actions had been taken to prepare the fleet and resources for the Games. This confirmed that the special Olympic maintenance exams on the metro fleets could be delivered within the reduced maintenance window and that appropriate action had been taken to prepare the mainline fleet for the increased interval between examinations.

As a result of the progress with Southeastern’s plans, Southern also enlisted SGS to help increase availability, provide technical support to the service on the route and manage an increased cleaning regime. The team reviewed the proposed project programme to determine critical risks that could have resulted in a reduced level of service quality and established the project tools needed to meet the fast approaching deadline.

Delivered on Time 

So how did the railway operators perform during the big occasion? Southeastern consistently delivered the required availability for the metro and mainline fleets over the Olympic period and were able to have additional units on standby in the event of failures. SGS helped deliver the changes to the fleet maintenance regime without affecting safety or performance and a level of enhanced service that met the Olympic requirements.

Peter Heasman, Head of Engineering Project for Southeastern, sums it up: “I honestly believe that if we hadn’t had the benefit of the involvement of SGS, we wouldn’t be in as strong a position as we are today. London 2012 went better than we could have possibly hoped for, and, as a result of the time saved through SGS’s work, we were able to meet our objectives.”

Southern also implemented all fleet initiatives to plan, deployed additional resources to support services on the route and successfully delivered the Olympic timetable without any major delays.

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