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Ashford team pioneers national example

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The team responsible for Hitachi Rail’s Ashford Train Maintenance Centre has won this year’s Depot Team of the Year Award.

‘We are absolutely elated,’ says fleet manager Nigel King, who received the award with Michael Hill, duty shift manager.

‘There are too many people to thank. Ashford is a real team effort, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, delivering services to the customer,’ adds Nigel.

One-hundred-and-sixteen people work at the depot. The team has performed so well at Ashford that lessons learnt there are being applied to other depots.

Says managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe Karen Boswell, ‘I am once again thrilled for my team at Ashford whose hard work in setting the highest standards in partnership working and customer service has been recognised. Congratulations to the team on this great achievement.’

The Hitachi Rail Ashford train maintenance centre has been established and recognised as a centre of excellence. Efforts by the team at Ashford have seen the Class 395 high- speed services racking up top marks in passenger satisfaction ratings. The dual voltage Class 395s, built by Hitachi Rail, are the UK’s first domestic high-speed commuter trains and were delivered on time with a preview service launched six months ahead of schedule in June 2009.

As Hitachi Rail ramps up to delivery of the first Class 800/801 trains for the Intercity Express Programme (IEP), the flagship service offered at Ashford has acted as the blueprint for a fully integrated support infrastructure that will give Hitachi Rail a combination of new, refurbished and existing depots in the UK.

Hitachi Rail is building on its solid foundation of maintenance practice in Ashford to fulfil the demanding requirements of the IEP and ScotRail contracts with regard to fleet availability and reliability of the trains. The newly built and refurbished IEP depots across Britain have benefitted from the success factors at Ashford, together with the lessons learned from fleet improvement activities and the standardisation of all maintenance activities.

‘Our skilled team of Ashford engineers is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure that we deliver the highest quality of service to the customer,’ says Nigel King.

‘The improvements the team at Ashford deliver directly translate to benefits for passengers – more trains, more seats and improved fleet reliability, resulting in a positive impact on capacity as well as the passenger experience and comfort. Close collaboration with our manufacturing colleagues drives a continuous improvement programme in Ashford ensuring better reliability and maintainability.’

There’s been a Traction and Rolling Stock site at the depot for over 150 years. Ashford has deep roots in the history of the railway and is right out ahead leading the railway’s future.

Depot Team of the Year was sponsored by Furrer+Frey, which supplies overhead contact line solutions to the rail industry. The award was presented by Noel Dolphin, managing director of Furrer+Frey GB.

He said the rail industry had an ‘exceptionally passionate’ workforce. Adding, ‘It’s really good to be involved in something that recognises individuals who have that passion. Really good to award something positive in the industry.’

Highly commended

  • Bristol Driver Depot Team, GreatWesternRailway
  • Doncaster High Output Depot,  NetworkRail


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