Maintenance strategy for a railway infrastructure in a regulated environment
Abstract: The operation and maintenance of railway infrastructure is complex, strictly regulated by government legislation, and must be working in close cooperation with all the stakeholders including customers involved, in order to avoid sub optimization. The business configuration of the Swedish Railway system makes it very difficult to optimize the entire railway operation, as many times its stakeholders have conflicting demands. Furthermore, the issues are made more complex by mixed traffic with varying speed and axle load. Thus, developing an integrated and holistic operational and maintenance policy is complex considering multiple stakeholders with varying and conflicting interest and business demand. In Sweden, the railway sector is divided into various business areas owned and operated by independent organizations or companies. Banverket is a government authority responsible for the Swedish railway infrastructure administration and also responsible for research and development work in the railway sector. In 1998, Banverket was reorganized into a client/contractor organization in order to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the railway infrastructure. This research describes and analyzes, how Banverket administrates the government owned infrastructure according to the stakeholders' including government, and customers' demands. Based on this, literature/case studies, interviews and real life experiences, a conceptual framework has been developed that describes all the factors that the infrastructure manager has to consider. The purpose of the framework is to help the infrastructure manager to make decisions with a more proactive maintenance approach that will improve the whole railway transport system and satisfy its customers. The factors are classified as how important they are for the maintenance strategy, i.e. how large their impact is on the capacity and transport quality, and how flexible they are, i.e. can the infrastructure manager influence them with available resources. The framework also describes whether the factors are strategic, tactical or operative, and how they are related to each other and how it will affect the railway system, if one of them is changed. The framework considers the parliamentary transport policy goals, laws and regulations, demands on health, safety and environment, interaction between vehicle and track, as well as between infrastructure manager and maintenance contractor. Problems associated for managing infrastructure maintenance strategy, some of the factors like, partnering and outsourcing, benchmarking and risk management are also studied, analyzed and discussed. The work has been conducted in close cooperation with Banverket and other partners associated with railway. Banverket has used this framework, while formulating their internal strategy, to achieve effective and efficient operation and maintenance.
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