The Technical Maintenance Plan (TMP) Optimisation project is underpinned by the principle of balancing cost, risk and performance across assets lifecycle. It is a critical component of the Sydney Trains’ Safe Access for Maintenance (SAM) Program, aiming to optimise worker safety, efficiency and the network availability needs of customers with increasing demand. The project’s scope includes analysis of crucial routine track and signal maintenance within the danger zone, to align with maintenance windows while maintaining the system’s efficiency and safety, with the additional benefit of reduced maintenance costs associated with the reduction of 40,000hrs pa in the danger zone
2.1 Best Practice Asset Management Principles
The TMP optimisation project at Sydney Trains, as a component of the SAM program, balances the cost of delivering maintenance with asset performance, and risk to maintainers, the organisation and customers. Review of TMPs to enable alignment with maintenance windows, is mapped to the Sydney Trains Asset Management System Framework, certified to ISO55001 and aligned to both the Asset Planning stage and the Operations and Maintenance phase of the asset lifecycle.
Best practice asset management methodologies, as recognised by the Asset Management Council Capability Delivery Model, including FMECA/RCM and PMO (reverse RCM) were utilised for the analysis to understand the functional requirements and failures, with Risk-Based Maintenance (RBM) considerations and technology solutions also providing improved delivery.
Continuous improvement for future maintenance effectiveness reviews has been adopted by improving the data collection, through enhancing the link defect source to improve clarification between functional and conditional failures and adding measurement values within the tasks.
Applying these asset management principles provides assurance that inspections have been packaged at the right frequencies based on the identification of current and potential future failures and risks.
2.2 Originality and Ingenuity of Solution
The utilisation of the train network is increasing. This increase reduces the availability and duration of maintenance windows and potentially places additional strain on the asset. The SAM program has addressed this by designing a solution that focuses on achieving the optimal balance between customer interests in terms of network availability, the safety and sustainability of maintenance while maintaining costs.
The approach to select the TMPs for review was developed using principles defined to resolve program objectives. Potential for optimisation and high maintenance frequency/time in the danger zone were key factors in selecting and prioritising TMPs to review from over 1500 TMPs across 10 disciplines.
Some TMPs were well established with existing RCM analysis, while others were vague in requirements. The selection was followed by a review of asset performance, TMP tasks, delivery methods, current and future operating contexts and cost.
The initial TMP reviews carried out thus far cover over 15,000 assets across ~1800 km of track with a written value of over $2.6b, including Signal Lights, warning lights, trainstops, track circuits, plain track, turnouts and special trackwork. Either new FMECA/RCMs were developed, or existing ones were updated following analysis. The opportunity savings for these initial reviews are up to 29,000 hrs p.a. out of a total estimated for the program of 40,000 hrs p.a.
The Turnouts optimisation component was conducive to full FMECA/RCM. The assets being analysed are very complex with multiple factors influencing failure behaviour, which would ordinarily be burdensome to sufficiently analyse in a large quantity. The delivery of the FMECA/RCM was accelerated by using pre-prepared materials for each workshop identifying the base case options for the failure causes, local and system effects enabling workshop momentum and to maintain stakeholder engagement. The resulting FMECA/RCM contained 80 shared failures for 44 subcomponents.
The driving failure tasks were selected based on significance to calculate optimal frequencies. With a lack of degradation data, the defects for assets in the highest utilisation areas, was used to calculate the failure finding interval as a function of the MTBF and availability required to give a worst-case. This was a reduction of inspection frequency from 1 to 3 months, or 16,700 inspections p.a. A matrix of Operational Criticality vs Tonnage was developed, allowing a further reduction for assets with less demand and failure consequence.
2.3 Program and Project Management
The SAM team provided program and project management disciplines to support the TMP Optimisation effort but also needed to come up with approaches to deal with assets that lacked crucial data. The program also executed an external support strategy for the existing TMP team, which had reached its capacity with BAU work and could not absorb the additional tasks required by the SAM program within the aggressive timelines. The program provided additional support to run workshops and manage the implementation, which significantly improved the level of consultation and timeliness of the changes.
In the case of Turnouts, which is a highly critical and complex track asset, an approach was taken to engage track and engineering specialists across agencies and industry. Track maintainers were also engaged and had to be specially rostered on for workshops. These workshops were previously difficult to host with key participants geographically dispersed. Improved engagement was gained by accommodating the option of face-to-face or online attendance.
Track site visits were organised to inspect turnouts in a variety of usage scenarios. Covid-19 introduced additional difficulty in visiting sites to review data kept locally which was overcome by obtaining photographs and/or scans of assets and forms.
To ensure appropriate technical governance of the TMPs, the project follows the Sydney Trains TMP Lifecycle process, which adheres to the TfNSW Asset Management Branch standard for TMP development (T MU AM 01003 ST). This provides a robust framework for decision-making and approval of proposed changes before implementation, as well as guidance on consultation and notification. Overall program governance reports into the Rail Corridor Safety Control Board (RCSCB), which acts as the single Sydney Trains body with accountability for driving track worker safety improvements across the network.
2.4 Benefit to Community and Organisation
The project’s success enhances Sydney Trains’ overall asset management capabilities, improves the efficiency of routine maintenance, and ensures the continued safe and reliable operation of the network while catering for the planned future increases in network utilisation in both passenger and freight services.
- Improved worker safety by the removal of up to 40,000 tool-time hours p.a. from the danger zone, resulting in savings of at least $40m over 10 years
- Enabling future growth in passenger and freight services with 30% less maintenance windows required.
- 25% increased capacity for other tasks through reallocation of resources
- Improved operational efficiency – by reducing ad-hoc track access events and delays by 25%
- Reduced operational costs – 20% reduction in the use of Protection Officers to support work in the danger zone.
- Enhanced Asset Management – Efficient management of TMPs through application of FMECA/RCM
- Improved network availability – due to improved reliability
3. Specific Contribution Made
The contribution of the TMP optimisation to the SAM program is the accelerated delivery of TMP changes that allow tool/inspection time to fit within the planned access periods. These contributions, which include the change of inspection frequency, rationalisation of tasks or reallocation of tasks to technology, are quantifiable in the reduction of 40,000 hours per year from the danger zone for track workers, and delivering significant benefits to the staff, customers, and community, including improved worker safety, increased capacity, improved efficiency, reduced expenses, enhanced asset management, and improved network availability.
4. General Comments
The TMP Optimisation project also includes review of the Fleet TMPs impacted by the timetable uplift that has impacted the infrastructure maintenance windows. The Sydney trains TMP team is concurrently delivering the optimisation of the OSCar fleet, applying the same principles of RCM and PMO. This review enables the planned change in operation from intercity to suburban running in preparation for the introduction of the New Intercity Fleet and transition to a different maintenance facility.
The first phase of the optimisation has been delivered via an interim change to the Intermediate inspection optimal frequency of 60 days-in-service and packaged frequency of 45 calendar-days until the aligned 90 calendar-day cycle is finalised for 120 days-in-service. The interim change has reduced inspection time by ~5,000 hours p.a. equating to ~$400k p.a. The full change from a 30 calendar-day based cycle to a 60 days-in-service based cycle reduces maintenance inspections further to enable the transition and provide an opportunity to save or reallocate ~$2m p.a.
Figure 1 – Overview of the Sydney Trains TMP Life Cycle process
Figure 2 – Functional Block Diagram used to map Turnout components for FMECA/RCM
Figure 3 – Frequency matrix of operational criticality and tonnage for turnout FMECA/RCM
Photographs – Turnout and special trackwork FMECA/RCM workshops