Mineta Institute releases heavy rail report

Posted on December 15, 2010

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) issued a new research report, "Reliability Centered Maintenance: A Case Study of Railway Transit Maintenance to Achieve Optimal Performance," a case study of a single heavy rail transit agency in North America that embedded a Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) process.

The study also examined the impact of RCM on availability, reliability and safety of rolling stock. The data may help rail transit leaders determine future strategic directions that would improve this industry, according to the report. Despite the RCM record in other fields, it has been used infrequently in heavy rail transit agencies.

"The general problem addressed in this study relates to a number of rolling stock failures — ranging from five to 15 or more — in heavy rail transit, and the organizational need to cope with them," said Dr. Felix A. Martin, Jr., the report's author. "These agencies have service delays almost daily — often greater than five minutes and frequently during peak revenue hours. Operational failures not only impact the customers' satisfaction level and increase maintenance costs, but also deter patrons from relying on public transportation. And that leads to a revenue loss for the transit agency."

For the first portion of this qualitative case study, Dr. Martin collected data from managers and non-managers through an open-ended, in-depth personal interview.

The second portion of the study explored how the RCM process affected rolling stock for availability, reliability and safety. This portion used data derived from project documents and reports to answer questions about the phenomena.

Based on data analysis, seven themes emerged regarding obstacles the maintenance employees experienced while RCM was implemented.

  • Problems with the predicted implementation time
  • Effective communication methods
  • Tthe influence of organizational culture on RCM implementation
  • The effect of RCM processes on employees
  • The most challenging aspects of implementing RCM
  • The most significant obstacles of implementing RCM
  • The impact of RCM on rolling stock

The analysis revealed mixed results regarding the impact. Some participants indicated an increase in safety and reliability, whereas others indicated a decrease. However, participants did indicate that there had been a significant increase in rolling stock availability since pre-RCM.

To view the report, click here.


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