Posted 1st July 2008 | 1 Comment

End of the line for award-winning depot

London Midland managing director Steve Banaghan

THE 2007 award-winning Bletchley train maintenance depot has closed after 42 years, during which staff turned out some of the best performing trains on the national network.

Bletchley was named ‘simply the best’ last year when the Silverlink County Class 321 fleet won the Engineering Excellence of the Year award at the annual HSBC awards in London.

The fleet was said to be six times more reliable than the average for that type of unit.
In a special Railnews report on the depot at the time, senior rail managers praised staff for turning out the top performing fleet at a time when a decision on the closure of the depot hung over them.

Analysing the root causes of engineering problems and sound preventative maintenance was cited by senior engineers as the reason for the trains’ high performance levels, with special work carried out on traction motors and sliding doors.

Since that time in early 2007, the old Silverlink franchise operated by National Express has been lost and London Midland, owned by Govia, now runs the franchise.
From December this year, London Midland is phasing in the fleet of 37 Class 350//2 Desiro trains, which are maintained by Siemens at Northampton. These will eventually replace the Class 321 fleet which had been serviced at Bletchley.

Although the present depot building was opened in 1965 there has been a maintenance facility on the site since 1850, and steam engines were serviced there.
Most of the Bletchley engineering staff are being seconded to the Siemens site, while the cleaning staff will move to London Midland’s cleaning team. The depot land and buildings will revert to owner Network Rail when the lease ends later this year.

In late May, Bletchley train depot staff were given a big thank-you by London Midland managing director Steve Banaghan on the depot’s last day as a full maintenance site.

He said: “The engineers at Bletchley are amongst the best in the industry and were vital to London Midland’s excellent performance in the first six months of our franchise. It’s good to know the new fleet will be in good hands in Northampton.

“I’d like to say a big thank- you to both them and the cleaning staff and wish them all well for the future care of the London Midland fleet.”

Reader Comments:

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  • Geoff Steel, Northampton, England

    Well done to Bletchley Depot for delivering such a consistently high level of performance. However, I am not surprised that it has closed. In recent years the rail industry seems to have gained the dubious reputation for closing down anything that comes close to obtaining consistently high levels of performance or customer service. Anglia Railways; Silverlink Trains and the Gatwick Express immediately come to mind. And, just when Virgin Cross Country start posting better performance figures...that's right it is given to another company. Who's next I wonder !!