The Anonymous Widower

The Value of Research

Companies are always being castigated for not doing enough research, but in this month’s Modern Railways, an example is given which shows how valuable research can be to both the company’s balance sheet and the man on the Dalston train.

When I worked in simulation using the PACE 231-R at ICI, I seem to remember reading in the literature about the problems British Rail were having with freight trains derailing as the speeds got higher. To try to solve the problems, BR Research Centre at Derby, did extensive computer simulations of wheel dynamics and probably became those with the greatest knowledge in the subject in the world. According to Modern Railways, they were then asked to design a bogie for passenger trains, that was lighter, stronger and required less maintenance.

With all of the privatisation and selling off of the railways in the 1980s and 1990s, the design could have got lost, but it ended up being commercialised and fitted to quite a few trains , including the Networkers and CapitalStars for the London Overground. The deasign team is based in Doncaster and is now part of Bombadier.

If that was the end of the story, that would have been good.

But it gets better in that the next generation of German ICE trains will be using this technology.

This article in Rail Engineer explains a bit more. under advanced bogie design, there is this section.

Whilst ELECTROSTAR is the lightest EMU in the market, weighing in at an average of just 42 tonnes per car, AVENTRA promises to be 20% lighter. This is achieved in no small part thanks to the introduction of Bombardier’s FLEXX Eco inside-frame bogie. It was designed for the UK market as part of the pioneering ‘Advanced Suburban Bogie’ project in the early 1990s. Initially tested in prototype form for two years under Class 320 vehicles (in 1991-92 using trailer bogies) and subsequently under Class 466s using motor bogies, it remains the only lightweight high-performance bogie in the world on main line passenger services.
The FLEXX Eco has an extremely credible track record, having travelled 1.5 billion kilometres in the UK under Voyager, Meridian and, more recently, TURBOSTAR units. It has also been exported to Norway, with 122 bogies supplied to state operator NSB. In reducing overall vehicle weight, the bogie makes a significant contribution to the energy saving advantages of the AVENTRA. It is particularly stable at high speed – it has been tested to 275kph under a Japanese Shinkansen and 392kph beneath an ICE2 – and delivers excellent performance through curves.

So a little trumpeted small amount of money invested by British Rail has become a true success story, albeit totally hidden from the man on the Dalston train, unless he cares to look underneath a train in the station.

Sad though, that although design is still in the UK, the bogies are now made in Germany. Here‘s the brochure.

And here’s one of the bogies under a CapitalStar at Highbury and Islington Station.

FLEXX Eco Bogie Under a Capitalstar

I use these trains a lot and can confirm that the ride quality is up with the best.

May 30, 2011 - Posted by | World | , ,


  1. […] of our strengths is in the technology that goes on trains, as I indicated in this post. But then we have always been good at niche markets and in some ways there is more money in the […]

    Pingback by Is This The End of Train Building In The UK? « The Anonymous Widower | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  2. That’s not an image of a flexx eco bogie, and the capitalstar doesn’t have them, otherwise great thesis

    Comment by myname | March 8, 2012 | Reply

    • I stand corrected! Thanks!

      Comment by AnonW | March 8, 2012 | Reply

  3. […] The Value of Research, I said this about FLEXX Eco […]

    Pingback by Are Alstom Going To Build All FLEXX Eco Bogies For The UK In Crewe? « The Anonymous Widower | December 10, 2021 | Reply

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