Raising Rail Carriage Standards

06 September 2016

National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) scores influence rail franchise decisions more than ever as higher standards are demanded of Train Operating Companies (TOCs).

The availability of seating on busy rail services is a hot topic, but the quality and comfort that the carriages provide is increasingly important to travellers.

Keeping the train seats clean and hygienic is vital. TBM Rail offers a range of services that can deliver a better customer experience and, ultimately, boost operators’ standing in the league tables produced by Transport Focus.

One of the first things that rail customers notice is the condition of seat covers. Nobody wants to sit on torn, dirty or stained fabric, so regular cleaning can help to generate a positive first impression.

TBM Rail’s base at Crewe, in Cheshire, houses a number of state-of-the-art dry cleaning machines that tackle seat fabric cleanliness head on. The Renzacci unit, for example, is a trusted workhorse that delivers a powerful clean - quickly.


The cleaning process removes dirt, stains and odours as standard, but it also delves below the surface. Micro-organisms like bacteria that would otherwise go unnoticed are also blitzed. So seats look good and are safer.

Providing refurbished seats to rail industry partners needs to be carefully coordinated. As train carriages are inspected decisions are made to replace, repair or clean seat covers. At TBM Rail we receive consignments of covers from clients and we make quick, informed decisions about what level of refurbishment is required.

It’s not always just about the visible cover. The wear and tear on the seat foam is something that can also affect passenger comfort. So TBM Rail’s skilled technicians assess damage and also check the effectiveness of the fire-proof membrane.

Batches of pristine seat covers are then distributed to depots so that changeovers can be actioned when carriages are undergoing other cleaning and maintenance tasks – usually at night. What that means is fewer units removed from service due to damage or hygiene issues. Better service levels and higher standards are maintained.


NRPS data is collected twice each year, in spring and autumn. So scheduling thorough cleaning of seat cover stock at least twice-yearly makes perfect sense.

Some of the evolving seat and carpet materials come with built-in protection, designed to minimise the damage caused by spillages. That certainly helps, but the sheer volume of passengers using train carriage seating means that dirt and germs will always build up.

Utilising the facilities and expertise offered by TBM Rail is a cost-effective option for rail operators looking to achieve the best possible levels of customer satisfaction.

For more information about TBM Rail’s seat cleaning service call 0844-8008577 or email [email protected]

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