Passengers stand on the platform in front of a Madrid metro waiting for the doors to open to board.

Metro Madrid: Magic 8-day limit

In Spain, whenever passenger numbers on Madrid Metro’s rapid transit network fall over the summer vacation, the company’s maintenance work on climate control (and other) systems onboard their metro fleet skyrockets. Fortunately, Knorr-Bremse RailServices is capable of doubling its capacity in response.

While it would be something of an exaggeration to talk about a summer shutdown, there is definitely a slowdown, confirms RailServices manager Juan Carlos López Bravo: “During the summer vacation period, there’s a drop in demand for Madrid Metro services,” he explains, “so the organization aims to use the resulting extra capacity as efficiently as possible for scheduled vehicle maintenance.” This also applies to the new 7000 (Ansaldobreda, today Hitachi) and 8000 (CAF) series rail vehicles ordered by the Consorcio Regional de Transportes de Madrid (Madrid Regional Transportation Consortium), deliveries of which started back in 2002.

One of their unique features is that passengers can easily walk from one end of the trainset to the other. The onboard climate control systems are supplied by Knorr-Bremse brand Merak – and when they are due for maintenance, it has to happen fast!

RailServices can easily switch its exclusive service line to two-shift operation

“Logically enough, operators only hold a very limited inventory of parts for systems that only need overhauling every few years,” explains López Bravo, “so to keep things running smoothly, it’s essential that maintenance throughput times are kept to an absolute minimum.” Processes on the project-exclusive line have now been optimized to such an extent that the overhauled climta control systems are back with the customer after just eight days. “If we blew our deadline, the operator would have to take the trains out of service,” says López Bravo.

But if required and as an element of the long-lasting strategic cooperation between Metro de Madrid and Merak, depending on the number of systems to be serviced, RailServices can easily switch its dedicated service line in Getafe over to two-shift operation, instantly doubling capacity.

A Merak employee works on an air conditioning system for trains in the production hall.A Merak employee works on an air conditioning system for trains in the production hall.
RailServices can easily switch its exclusive service line to two-shift operation. | © Knorr-Bremse

Comprehensive overhaul, including multiple upgrades

Despite the eight-day timeframe, the systems are given a comprehensive overhaul, including multiple technological upgrades: The simple pressure switches installed previously are replaced by new, state-of-the-art units that are much more reliable and accurate, and new transducers are installed that facilitate maintenance by enabling digital pressure readings on an external display. All these components are brazed in place to avoid threaded connections that could result in leaks. New software supports better temperature regulation and fault notification, among other improvements. All in all, this is a big plus for even more efficient operation of the air conditioning systems – and pleasantly tempered air in passenger compartment.

And RailServices is always looking to the future: As part of the contract, the company includes ten prototypes that use a new, even more eco-friendly type of refrigerant, as well as twelve prototypes of a new, state-of-the-art electronic control unit that fully resolves the obsolescence of the unit currently mounted on the equipment. This means that the air conditioning systems can be used reliably for a longer time thanks to modern, retrofitted technology.

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