TBM - Grab poles removed after 20 years' service

TBM’s recoating of grab poles and handles for Avanti’s 221 Voyager fleet has uncovered a few surprises – namely how effective Nylon R-Ag coatings for transport fleets really are!

Crewe-based TBM was recently engaged by Bombardier to upgrade grab pole and seatback handle coatings. This is being completed for twenty class 221 train sets that are now operated by Avanti on the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

Creating a new UK rail franchise means rebranding, and an opportunity to improve facilities for passengers. With fleets keen to offer enhanced and safer equipment post-coronavirus, the quality of new fittings is significant.

In July work began stripping out old Virgin-branded grab poles and handles ahead of recoating. To the surprise of everyone, the surface of the equipment was still in excellent condition.

TBM’s partner, Omnikote, applied the first generation of Nylon R-Ag coating for the Bombardier-built vehicles back in 2001.

Despite many hundreds of thousands of miles, daily wear and tear and increased passenger numbers over the last two decades the coating was almost indistinguishable from new, and would probably last another 20 years.

New coatings for a new era

The recoating of grab poles, handles and other carriage fittings is often linked to the rebranding of train fleets. However, there are other benefits that are timely and relevant to recent challenges.

There has been significant progress with nylon coatings in recent years. Working with UK-based Bio Master, Omnikote’s Nylon R-Ag+ product now incorporates antimicrobial additives.

This means that any surfaces coated with Nylon R-Ag+ can help in the fight against bacteria and viruses. Naturally, this is something at the forefront of operators’ minds since the coronavirus pandemic.

Coating Avanti’s 221 fleet with the enhanced material means that viruses do not attach themselves to the grab pole surface. It is safer for passengers to touch the protected equipment.

Ultimately, this means that germs, bacteria and viruses are less likely to be spread from passenger to passengers than with many other types of coating.

TBM and nylon coatings

Neil Smith, Director at TBM, isn’t surprised. He said: “We’ve promoted Nylon R-Ag+ for some time. It really does the job and removes the need for costly refits every few years.

“What we have found time and time again is that the coatings resist the scratches and chips caused by passenger usage which promote microbial transfer. This means it stays looking good, and that matters to passengers.”

“Crucially, the new generation of coating contains antimicrobial additives. That means it’s safer for passengers to hold the rails and poles.”

Rail industry partners

Steve Rennie, MD at Omnikote, who apply the Nylon R-Ag+ coatings for TBM, is delighted that his firm’s products have stood the test of time.

He said: “We have spent many years working on a formulation that serves the transport industry and helps to keep standards high. To see our coatings looking so good after nearly twenty years is a feather in our cap.”

“The addition of antimicrobial protection takes our products to a new level. It’s vital that users of trains and buses feel safe, even more so after the coronavirus pandemic.”

“We’re delighted to be part of the ongoing solution to make travel safer for staff and passengers.”

For further information about the services TBM offers to transport fleets please call 0844 800 8577 or email enquiries@tbmrail.com