Building rail bridges between train companies

06 April 2018


Business relationships are vital across all industries, but effective B2B links in the railway sector help to build trust, improve collaboration and ultimately allow benefits to be passed on to the travelling public.  

We’re not talking literal bridges here, as they involve multi-million pound contracts driven by Network Rail. However, they too are very important. To deliver successful projects that enhance the country’s rail infrastructure, the nation’s track, points, bridges and signalling owner/operator must work with a range of partners. Collaboration on a massive scale.  

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UK train operating companies (TOCs)

Following privatisation in the 1990s, Britain’s railways are now operated by a number of train companies. At that level, an organisation called ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies) helps to bring the big (and medium-sized) players together. It’s an unincorporated association owned by its members. From ticketing issues and rail enquiries, to promoting services and ensuring that legislation is adhered to, the organisation encourages and facilitates co-operation between operators to benefit passengers. Good stuff.  

That’s how TBM Rail likes to operate. We work directly with some of the major TOCs (train operating companies), but we also maintain a number of superb relationships with rail suppliers.

TBM Rail specialises in passenger comfort services. We provide train and bus toilet tank overhauls, seat cover cleaning, powder coating for grab poles, electric charge points for carriages, door sensor equipment, plus a range of washroom products that put train toilet facilities on a par with the best that quality restaurants and offices can offer. We do all this through a series of long-standing partnerships that have developed over the years.

As a brief roll call, we partner Omnikote, Bio-Circle, CAPTRON and Sanitaryware Supplies. Working with these trusted partners, we can then offer an amazing range of services to the operators – who in turn deliver higher standards and great value to their customers.

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Experienced railway professionals

Many of the people working for those partners have worked within the rail industry under different guises since the days of British Rail, Crewe Works and many other famous depots, workshops and railway production facilities. Those involved are proper railway people, time served, left-handed spanner and bletch on overalls kinda men and women. You know where you stand with them. They have seen many changes over the years. They understand the processes involved and their goal, like ours, is to deliver the best possible services to enhance the travelling experience for passengers.

Working alongside these people is a pleasure. There is mutual trust. They know what they are doing. Together, we work hard to ensure that the products and services offered add value for the TOCs. If they do, that will be reflected in the passenger survey scores courtesy of Transport Focus. Win, win. Good business and better services for the important people who make the rail network what it is – the passengers.

Working together is everything. Sure individual companies need to make profits and look good – that’s true in any industry. But when we talk about the British railway system, well, that’s a bit different. The public has an affinity to the rail network. It connects towns and cities, despite Dr Richard Beeching’s best efforts many decades ago. Perhaps that’s harsh, as there were once many inefficiencies. But following severe pruning of the UK tracks and stations the system survived, prospered and now boasts greater numbers of travelling journeys than ever.

Privatisation was, in our opinion, good for the railways. Genuine companies emerged, with experienced, qualified and passionate staff keen to take old values to new, more efficient and profitable levels.

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Improving standards for railway passengers

There is still a long way to go. Rail customers deserve better services. We’d like to think that we are meeting some of those needs through business partnerships with some excellent railway companies. The challenge now is to take things to the next level so that UK train passengers enjoy some of the best facilities, innovations and standards of travelling comfort in the world.

In March, TBM Rail won an award for best Product Innovation at the UKRIA Awards. That was for research and development of slimline power and USB sockets for train carriages, giving travellers the power they need for mobile phones and laptops.

If you manage train fleets for one of the major operators and would like to discuss how we can help you, please give us a call. The same goes to rail service providers who have products and services that would suit our portfolio. Let’s work together!

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