Lift-rite engineering services received an unusual request from Siemens rail division to assist with testing requirements.
London Midland were looking to increase the running speed of its Class 350/1 EMU fleet from 100 mph to 110mph to allow journey times to be reduced on the hourly service out of Euston on the West coast main line.
Lift-rite were requested to provide hand type steel test weights which were to be placed into the carriage to simulate 80 tonnes of passengers and this would replicate a fully crush-loaded unit.
On completing an initial site visit to ascertain how the weights would be placed into the seats and to complete full method statements and risk assessments, Lift-rite come up with a novel testing method of using water load bags which would be strapped into the seats and filled with water to provide the 80 tonne test loading requirement.
The method was agreed by Siemens which saved a serious amount of time rather than having to transport 4,000 hand weights to site and manually load onto the train.
The water load bags which are normally used for testing life boats were placed into the seats and secured and then through a network of hoses, manifolds and flow meters were filled to the required capacity.
This method of testing was so successful, Siemens indicated that this method would be standard practice for the future.
The load testing was completed safely and the service is now running to the increased speed of 110mph.