JEC Group have brought together the international community of composites leaders and executives in our Composites Circle as an unique networking opportunity to meet with both peers and future partners.
Hitachi Rail has risen to the challenge of accommodating the differing needs of rail passengers, including ‘pedal powered’ commuters and travellers.
Working in close cooperation with its design and production partners, the result has been the development of a PRM-TSI compliant, lightweight storage unit for bicycles throughout the train, located close to passenger seated areas. In the UK, these new Hitachi Class 800/801 trains will be replacing existing high speed trains as part of the latest Intercity Express Programme (IEP).The original concept for the new class 800/801 series train was to design spacious new passenger carriage interiors, including convenient bike storage facilities. Right at this early concept stage, Hitachi also brought in Lyndon Newman, Engineering Director of TRB Lightweight Structures and his team. The role of TRB was to evaluate the design and provide a cost effective method of manufacturing the bike storage unit to meet all technical specifications and rail standards, and to comply with PRM (persons of reduced mobility) passenger needs.Proven PartnershipTRB Lightweight Structures Ltd. has a long established track record in the manufacture and supply of high-quality, lightweight interior and exterior rail solutions globally. Hitachi Rail Europe selected TRB for this project based on a proven track record as a value-added supplier partner; TRB has already designed, manufactured, and delivered more than 200 products to Hitachi in Japan for fitting on prototype trains. Hitachi’s Procurement Director Jamie Foster commented, “With the Class 800/801 trains, Hitachi aims to set the standard for design, quality, and weight savings. Once again the TRB engineers and designers have risen to these challenges, meeting the demands of the program. Working with partners who provide collaborative solutions to engineering challenges is essential to the smooth progress of these types of projects.” The supply of bike storage units is in addition to contracts already awarded to TRB Lightweight Structures by Hitachi back in Sept 2014, with the first prototype units having already been shipped to Japan. The first twelve trains will be built in Japan before manufacture and assembly switches to Hitachi's new purpose-built Newton Aycliffe plant in northeast England.Design ValidationA key objective for TRB was to satisfy all the weight, performance and installation requirements from Hitachi engineering for the bike unit, which must also meet GM/RT2100 - issue 5 for railway vehicles, and be fully PRM-TSI compliant. Using the design and indicative materials specifications from Hitachi, the TRB technical team set about doing a detailed analysis and design validation of individual components, creating bills of materials, production costings and the production planning for completed bike units. During 2013, after a number of project review meetings with Hitachi, final specifications were agreed for nine ‘prototype’ left and right handed bike storage units to be manufactured at TRB’s UK production site in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.Production ProcessesThe bike storage units are mostly comprised of TRB manufactured components, including wall panels, the sliding door, sills, ceiling and flooring framework. The racking inside each bike unit is custom built locally by Lordgate Engineering Ltd., a long term TRB partner, which also supplies other parts to Hitachi Rail Europe.To minimize weight and maximize space, aluminium honeycomb sandwich panels were specified for the walls, the sliding and folding door sections, and for the ceiling. The type of sandwich panels used are fabricated using an aluminium honeycomb core with inner and outer aluminium skins, bonded together with a high strength modified epoxy adhesive film, then finished by spray painting using a water based paint system. Aluminium honeycomb sandwich panels have been successfully used by TRB in other rail applications, such as partitions and headers, where a lightweight, strong and durable structure is needed in minimal space. For the sliding door and gangway panels, a high pressure laminate is specified. The same door system is also specified for the catering units, also being supplied by TRB.Flat sandwich panels are fabricated on a platen press, with the curved door sections being produced using a custom made tool, moulding the aluminium core and skins together using a lay-up and vacuum bagging process in an oven. A number of painted fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) components are also fabricated for the bike units.