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Old October 5th, 2014, 03:35 PM   #461
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Courtesy of Emmanuel Raza


Station de correspondance.
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Berchem station.
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Un Desiro vers Leuven.
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Thalys.
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Desiro à Boondael Station.
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AM à Moensberg.
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Old October 7th, 2014, 01:49 PM   #462
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Any news on how the Desiros are doing lately, as I understand their reliability still wasn't up to par 2 months ago?
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Old October 7th, 2014, 02:53 PM   #463
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M-NL View Post
Any news on how the Desiros are doing lately, as I understand their reliability still wasn't up to par 2 months ago?
About 200 of the ordered 300 have been delivered now.

They are indeed not at the right level of reliability, as they break down 3 to
4 times more often than the other rolling stock on the belgian network.

This means that they are not used to their full potential, far from that,
so there is still quite a lot of old stock in service. Once they are all there
and OK, all 2-cars EMUs numbered 600-782 should be retired.

Most of the failures come from the doors. Apparently because the door
mechanism are fitted under the floor, rather than above the ceiling. And
they get jammed with the fine gravel that SNCB is using to cover the
platforms.

Also problems with the software, and with the pantographs in winter. They
start their service under DC catenary, and under way, when they have to
change from DC to AC, the AC panto is frozen and refuses to deploy...

This lack of reliability has been admitted publicly by the new SNCB CEO,
who blamed (rightfully, I think) Siemens for it - I suppose it means the
start of a legal battle, to obtain compensations.

For the time being, the new EMUs are inserted into services covered by
old equipment, to replace it, without much thinking about the type of service.
Which means you find them on locals, but also on long distance ICs (long
distance for Belgium, I mean), which is not optimal. In december, a large
scale reorganization of the traffic will take place, and at that moment it
is expected that Desiros will only be used for all-stations services.

Last edited by MarcVD; October 7th, 2014 at 03:03 PM.
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Old October 7th, 2014, 02:53 PM   #464
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The Desiros have never been unreliable, only not perfect from the start. There have mainly been issues with their doors, but those have mostly been resolved. There was an increase in faulty components when the trains first came into service, but most of those reported issues didn't cause a problem in reliability, from what I've gathered.

For example, ever since the trains used on my connection were replaced with Desiro's, I haven't had a single cancellation yet and only a handful of delayed trains. Delays or cancellations were never really a big issue on my connection, but at least I didn't see any increase.

@MarcVD: they don't break down 3 to 4 times more often than other rolling stock!
There are however 3 to 4 times more reports on faulty stuff than other trains, but that's also due to the focus on these new trains and because for a certain time period, it's the constructor that pays for these faults. The media that reported this had a wrong interpretation of the statistics.
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Old October 7th, 2014, 03:09 PM   #465
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glodenox View Post
they don't break down 3 to 4 times more often than other rolling stock!
Jo Cornu, the new SNCB CEO publicly declared to the press (I saw the
interview on TV) that they needed a technical intervention every 8000 km in
average, while for the other SNCB rolling stock, the average is more like
30.000 km. Those are his own words. I don't see how this can be attributed
to "bad interpretation of the statistics by the press".
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Old October 7th, 2014, 03:13 PM   #466
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
Jo Cornu, the new SNCB CEO publicly declared to the press (I saw the interview on TV) that they needed a technical intervention every 8000 km in average, while for the other SNCB rolling stock, the average is more like 30.000 km. Those are his own words. I don't see how this can be attributed to "bad interpretation of the statistics by the press".
Technical intervention != breakdown.

A technical intervention can be to do an inspection, to replace some component that seems to be broken, to upgrade the software, etc. While it's true that as such you have less trains available at the same time than desirable, it doesn't necessarily mean they really broke down somewhere. While there are indeed more technical interventions than needed for trains that have been riding for several years now, it's receiving a lot more attention than it deserves to get. It's not all that unusual that new trains need improvements shortly after they have been introduced.
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Old October 7th, 2014, 04:53 PM   #467
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Don't play with words...
Even if some of those interventions are preventive (i.e. fix before it breaks)
it still means that those trains require a lot more attention than the others.
It is not normal at all that modern equipment is many times less reliable than
what has been built 40 years ago. And I would not say that 4 years is still
"shortly after they have been introduced". I would be curious to see your
reaction if the same happened with a car you just purchased, even if it is a
new model...
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Old October 7th, 2014, 05:21 PM   #468
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I'm not playing with words. There's a huge difference between a train breaking down halfway their service, or a train kept out of service for repairing something!
EDIT: just to clarify: I'm not saying this is the case for all those technical interventions. I'm just trying to point out that a decent portion of those technical interventions were not organized after a breakdown.

The comparison with the car doesn't really make a lot of sense by the way. If it turns out there's a manufacturing issue with a car model, those models get recalled to be fixed. That's basically the same as what is happening to those trains, except the NMBS does the recalling and most repairs themselves.
When dealing with new material, it really isn't uncommon to have more technical interventions to fix unexpected issues. For older material the weak links are already known and documented, which helps with the technical interventions. I presume that over time the 30.000 km/intervention target will be attained by Desiros as well.

Also, I'm not saying this situation is acceptable (and the claim made against Siemens by the NMBS seems very correct to me), but it's not as bad as it is presented in the media. Also, a bit of nitpicking from me here, but the very first train was introduced into service at the very end of 2011, so the oldest one has now almost driven for 3 years. The trains were brought into service between end of 2011 and 2013. Considering that the statistics referred to be the CEO are most likely for 2013, I can't say this is extraordinary. (Admittedly I'm making several assumptions here)

That said, according to Wikipedia it does seem there was a power supply issue I hadn't heard of, which may have had a bigger impact on the service.
The frozen pantographs I have heard off and seemed like a silly mistake to make by Siemens that could've easily been prevented with their prior knowledge. But all in all "only" 95 of the 305 trains will have that problem as only they can run on 25kV and as such have two pantographs.

I fully agree about your statement of the Desiros being put into services where they shouldn't be. Desiros were bought for local trains and perhaps some of the InterRegio trains that behave more like local trains. They don't belong in the InterCity services.
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Last edited by Glodenox; October 7th, 2014 at 05:23 PM. Reason: Small clarification
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Old October 7th, 2014, 07:12 PM   #469
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glodenox View Post
except the NMBS does the recalling and most repairs themselves.
There are several Siemens people working on the SNCB site of Stockem, where all retrofits are done once the source of the problem has been identified. So, to speak ITIL terminology, SNCB fixes incidents, and Siemens
solves problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glodenox View Post
When dealing with new material, it really isn't uncommon to have more technical interventions to fix unexpected issues.
Yes but after 4 years this should be over now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glodenox View Post
the very first train was introduced into service at the very end of 2011
January 2012. But the first trains were on test on the belgian network already
one year before that. It's also the first time that one had to wait for so long
between the first delivery and the first revenue service (although it was
almost as bad for the HLE18, also a Siemens product).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glodenox View Post
But all in all "only" 95 of the 305 trains will have that problem as only they can run on 25kV and as such have two pantographs.
The DC panto has freezing problems as well, but monotension EMUs do not
have to change voltage along the way, and so don't need to lower/raise
pantographs en route. So in that case a frozen panto just means the EMU
cannot leave the depot. Not good, but not as bad as getting stranded in
the middle of nowhere with passengers on board.

One thing I wonder is how it is possible that "proven, off the shelf" equipment
can have so many teething problems. One explanation given is that SNCB is
asking so many modifications to the basic design that they are not "off the
shelf" anymore...
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Old October 8th, 2014, 01:57 PM   #470
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
One thing I wonder is how it is possible that "proven, off the shelf" equipment can have so many teething problems. One explanation given is that SNCB is asking so many modifications to the basic design that they are not "off the shelf" anymore...
In the rail industry there is no such thing as "proven, off the shelf". Every customer has it's own specific modifications. Sometimes limited to a different seat arrangement, but when you build a variant for a different country differences stack up quickly. There are plenty of examples beside the NMBS Desiro: the Dutch SLT for instance is a 'mildly' adapted variant of DB baureihe 425 and also had it's share of teething problems, mainly with the NS specific modifications.
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Old October 10th, 2014, 09:35 AM   #471
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M-NL View Post
In the rail industry there is no such thing as "proven, off the shelf".
Still, there is a big shift compared to what happened less than 20 years
ago, when railway companies specified and prototyped their rolling stock,
and then had it built by a private company to their own specs. There
were even cases where railway companies built their rolling stock themselves.
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Old October 11th, 2014, 08:58 PM   #472
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcVD View Post
One explanation given is that SNCB is
asking so many modifications to the basic design that they are not "off the
shelf" anymore...
Exactly.

This is not a Desiro issue (the model is used in dozens of countries but only Belgium's NMBS/SNCB is claiming that there are major reliability issues and only they are moaning publically and even suing.

I suspect this is an NMBS problem that they somehow managed to shove to Siemens

Everyone inside Belgium knows how corrupt the Belgian Rail management is but I suspect foreigners (incl. Siemens) are not yet aware of this
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Old October 11th, 2014, 09:28 PM   #473
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It's kinda funny to read that Desiros are troubles prone trains, I'm working on them extensively for the last 3 years and except a few doors problems (motors were indeed to weak and badly placed) never had any problems with these trains.

However, it must maybe be reminded to some decision makers in "Rue de France" that even newest trains must be maintained - especially when used extensively on the network - and that when you're buying new trains, it's always a good idea to read the handle book.

For instance, we had experienced problems in the beginning with the train batteries... Kinda easy to figure out why: these trains aren't designed to be fully put down ("à plat" as we said in french), they're designed and made to stay in service all the time.
But due to strict regulations application and others typical way of working at the SNCB/NMBS: these trains were staying overnight with everything switched off... So in the morning, it was usually: "game over", batteries can't start the train again (normal, they're not designed to do so for a long period of time!) We encountered the same problems with the HLE18/19 in the beginning, before our "local genius" figured it out...

That's just an example to give a better idea, but I definitely won't throw the Desiro/HLE18-19 as being unreliable trains. Yes, as all new stock, they had some teething problems. That's a fact and it can't be dismissed.
Unfortunately the major sources of problems is coming from "Rue de France" and the way they handle new materials and are using it inappropriately... They had 3 years to fine tune the HLE18-19 (1860 delivered in 2008 put in regular service in 2011) and they were still able to deliver us machines which had problems. So what have they done in 3 years time? Playing cards?

Of course, if we're comparing with trains running for these last 40 years, we'll find these better... In a "AM Classique" they're nearly nothing which can broke down. Even with non-existent maintenance (as in the last few months before their withdrawal) these kept on running again, and again and again. But performance wise we're playing in two very different fields ;-)
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Old October 11th, 2014, 10:33 PM   #474
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the model is used in dozens of countries
Well, not dozens, but three: only Belgium, germany and Russia have Desiro MLs in operation. All other trains named "Desiro" are quite different. I wonder why Siemens calls all of them with the same name...

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siemens_Desiro
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Old October 11th, 2014, 11:31 PM   #475
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It's intresting fact, that Russia complains about Desiro ML being frustatingly expensive to run.
I wonder if it the proioblem is exclusive to RZhD...
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Old October 12th, 2014, 01:00 AM   #476
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Quote:
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All other trains named "Desiro" are quite different. I wonder why Siemens calls all of them with the same name...
I think that's a thing from the marketing guys at Siemens. If you hear someone talking about a 'Desiro', they mean a Siemens built regional/commuter train. Even if the train is not a Desiro ML.

And maybe there really are (or will be) a lot of similarities between the various Desiro trains, including the ones that run in the UK with 750V DC supplied through a 3rd rail...
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Old October 13th, 2014, 08:57 AM   #477
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Quote:
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I think that's a thing from the marketing guys at Siemens. If you hear someone talking about a 'Desiro', they mean a Siemens built regional/commuter train.
This practice is normal in the rail business: Almost every regional/commuter train built by Alstom is called Coradia with some suffix, the Hitachi A-train can be pretty much any type of multiple unit passenger train.
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Old October 13th, 2014, 09:07 AM   #478
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Everyone inside Belgium knows how corrupt the Belgian Rail management is but I suspect foreigners (incl. Siemens) are not yet aware of this
Corrupt ?

I will agree with you that the SNCB management is plagued with problems,
like lack of competence, too much politics, and too much influence of the
unions, but corruption ? Would you care to elaborate ?
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Old October 13th, 2014, 10:47 AM   #479
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I think Marc Descheemaecker (former SNCB CEO) got rid of most of the corruption. If you haven't done so yet, go read the book he wrote about his time at SNCB. It's a real eye-opener.
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Old October 16th, 2014, 04:17 AM   #480
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