EPSA Working Groups – working together for safer wagons

As part of our Entities in Charge of Maintenance Service Provision Agreement (ESPA) NCB supports ECMs by providing guidance on best practice and cross-industry recommendations for those who are signed up to ESPA.

One of the ways we do this is by organising and managing working groups to act as focal points for the freight industry. These working groups are forums where areas of concern can be discussed, knowledge shared and best practice identified and implemented. Participants include not only private wagon owners, but ‘railway undertakings’ such as Freightliner and DB Schenker, along with other interested parties.

One such group is the Brakes Working Group. The aim of this working group is to investigate the issues surrounding braking problems. One of the major issues the group has highlighted so far is that there’s no recognised industry standard specification for the overhaul and subsequent testing of brake distributors – a major safety- critical component of the braking system.

Through the Brakes Working Group, it’s been agreed that, as the ECMs are legally responsible for the safe condition of their wagons, they should be able to establish an overhaul specification that bench marks recognised best practice for both the overhaul and subsequent testing of the distributors that they fit.

We’re now working with brake equipment over haulers such as Wabtec Rail, Sabre Rail and the Original Equipment Manufacturer, Knorr-Bremse to draft and agree such an overhaul and testing specification for the Westinghouse P4 distributor, which is the most widely used distributor in the rail freight industry and is fitted to thousands of vehicles.

The work being done by the Brakes Working Group is just one example of where our ESPA working group initiative is having a significant and positive impact on the safety, reliability and performance of the UK railway – placing NCB at the heart of the UK’s rail freight industry.


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