HITACHI Rail is installing a wireless system to monitor the performance of bogie and wheelset components on the 93 class 800 and class 802 trains that it supplied and maintains for British operator Great Western Railway (GWR).

In what the manufacturer claims as a world first for digital fleet maintenance, wireless sensors developed by Perpetuum will gather data in real time on the condition of the full suite of wheelset and bogie parts, including gearboxes, traction motors, bearings and wheels.

Perpetuum was acquired by Hitachi Rail in 2021.

The new system is expected to reduce the time a train is out of service for bogie and wheelset maintenance by 50%, increasing fleet availability by 100 days a year or 3100 days over the lifetime of the GWR fleet.

At present, bogie overhaul accounts for a third of maintenance costs, with an average of seven days required to carry out manual inspection or component replacement in a depot.

Real-time monitoring enables immediate and precise identification of parts requiring inspection or maintenance, enabling these tasks to be undertaken before this can affect passenger service.

Hitachi says improved knowledge of critical components optimises maintenance to ensure train availability remains high as the fleet grows older, increasing service reliability for passengers and providing flexibility in timetabling and fleet management for the operator.

Better understanding of bogie and wheelset condition should also enable parts to be replaced only when necessary, avoiding waste, saving time, reducing maintenance costs and improving sustainability.

The ability to pinpoint faults also reduces the time required by maintenance staff to undertake wheelset and bogie work, enabling them to be reallocated to other tasks.

Installation of the monitoring system has already begun, and is due to be rolled out across the entire GWR fleet over the coming 12 months. Work to fit the sensors is being undertaken during a scheduled overhaul of the Hitachi trains.

“We welcome the introduction of this wireless monitoring solution, which will help to improve the maintenance and reliability of our fleet, enabling us to deliver an even more robust timetable and higher quality journeys for the benefit of our customers,” says GWR engineering director, Mr Simon Green.