Blue Mountains Commuters and Transport Users Association


Refurbishment of V set InterCity Cars

Posted 13 July 2008

Letter sent to CEO RailCorp 3 Oct 2007

The Association was informed that a Cost Benefit Analysis was being done to consider what action should be taken in regards to the refurbishment of the Intercity Cars. The Association presents our response, which is that the V sets should be restored for further use, as it is our opinion that the refurbishment is sustainable and cost effective.

Many of the points raised about the condition of the Intercity Cars by John Dawes Project Manager Fleet Evaluation were basically from adequate maintenance e.g.

  • The Intercity cars are considered the best in the fleet, when the G sets were introduced there was very little support for these cars. Comments over the years from Commuters who went overseas came back to inform us the V sets were the best Intercity Cars that they had experienced.
  • Their history may have been marred by inappropriate maintenance or lack of. For example
    1. Toilets were not maintained, leaks, odours, etc. occurred from lack of maintenance and the replacement was unduly a lengthy process.
    2. The external doors were modified which caused more problems— unable to open or extremely hard to operate.
    3. Water ingress into to saloons were form lack of attention to drain holes in pantograph and air conditioning systems
    4. The sun infiltration into the cars has been more pronounced since the original windows have been replaced  (Early morning and late afternoon is most uncomfortable as the windows have no reflective treatment,  also this must cause be an increased load on the air conditioning)
    5. The break down of air conditioning appeared to be lack of adjustment especially with change of seasons.
    6. There appears to be an increase of missing seats. We cannot understand how this is allowed when we have 12 cars withdrawn which have a full complement of seats that can be used as replacement seats (This is not a complicated practice).

The other issues concerning internal refurbishment:

  • Clean and paint interior repair flooring and replace carpet. This has been done before and since most cars are in good repair there should be no problem in carrying out this work.
  • Air Conditioning duct cleaning should be on-going to reduce the load on the motor
  • The last 14 cars delivered have automatic internal doors these doors should be restored to working order  ( They have  not worked for many years)    
  • The Association preference is for carpet on the floor and vinyl seating, the ladies preferred the vinyl as it was more easily cleaned and any dirt etc was more noticeable.
  • Water has become an issue.
    The recent removal of water was for health reasons. We suggest that perhaps the removal of ice has increased the probability of health issues. In addition the cleaning of the tanks had not been satisfactory.   There is need to have water available on long trips especially for children and the elderly

The Association has for many years questioned the Maintenance Programme.
There appeared to be no Quality Assurance Programme that ensured that all Consists that left the Depots were Inspected and Maintained by Accredited Trades Persons in each protocols and release of the Consists was done in compliance to standards and procedures and acknowledge by documentation that was signed by accredited staff to release the consist. This should apply to MainTrain after heavy maintenance as well.

The question of the age of the InterCity cars: our response.

  • Are there any structure defects that will affect durability on these sets as they are stainless steel without corrosion problems?  Has a car been stripped down to frame for an assessment to be made i.e. all panels removed, wiring samples taken for testing the integrity of the  insulation?
  • The bogies and traction motors and braking mechanisms are able to renewed as they must have been over years of use In the case of  braking systems we agree that discs are better, new bogies could  contain a disc braking system
  • The Association is aware that diesel locomotives have been stripped down to the frame and rebuilt — the cost saving is $100.000 dollars using the old frame. In the case of the Intercity cars, the re-use of a body must be a distinct cost advantage
  • As RailCorp is testing various Train Protection Systems on what is named an “old train”, it demonstrates that modifications can be carried out on these cars.
  • Toilets replaced and doors modified in the last few years that must indicate full refurbishment is possible.

The Space for wheel chair, bikes, luggage the Association suggests

  1. That the single seats in the saloons be provided with fold down seats for the use of Luggage
  2. That a car be modified for wheel chair accommodation fold down seating as per low floor buses to accommodate prams large luggage etc
  3. The seating refurbishment should maintain the original specifications i.e. height of seat lumbar support and the turn over mechanism adjusted for ease of use,
  4. The marking of the Easy Access carriage is essential.
  5. here is a mixed response to whether a full Easy Access toilet is required. The Association has not received any pressure on this issue
  6. There should be extra bike hooks in the vestibules.

Other Comments that are generated from the presentation are.

  • If new carriages are being considered then we would expect that they are designed along current Intercity Interiors
  • The question of old and new technology: the association feels that the older technology is simpler and should be understood by existing maintenance personnel, but there should be a natural progression to the new in the same way that the older generation such as ourselves adjusted to the transfer from old valve technology to transistors and integrated circuitry. 
  • The audio system should be renewed. P.A. systems are intermittent and are the technology is not rocket science.
  • It will be most important that the refit ensures colour coordination is presented to the public in a relaxed atmosphere. This should be assured.
  • The Intercity Cars have the reputation of having a quieter ambience in comparison with other cars. The Association requests that the inherent ambient noise in the saloons be compared with other cars in the fleet. The car industry has reviews of different cars. As we are in competition with the car industry this comparison would be of interest.

The Members have the opinion that to attract customers the cars should be a marketable product and hence the quality of the cars for long distances the Intercity Cars meet this criteria. The question is Does RailCorp consider that the standards incorporated in the design of the InterCity Cars are too high?

We present this for your consideration: an inspection of a car would be appreciated.

The Association has received support for the complete refurbishment of the existing cars.

Yours faithfully
Paul Trevaskis Hon. Sect.

The Issue is: Has RailCorp considered the three options in their appraisal of InterCity Cars.

  • Decision to fully refurbish to 2008 standards
  • Decision to continue the progressive maintenance of InterCity cars.
  • Decision to replace all cars with new InterCity Cars for the outer Areas