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An invaluable engineering support for Porterbrook leasing, a major Rolling Stock Fleet Owner in the UK

In the UK, most trains in service are owned by private entities called ROSCOs (Rolling Stock Companies). These companies own the rolling stock outright and lease them out to Train Operators (TOCs) and Freight Operating Companies (FOCs) – either with no maintenance, some maintenance or full maintenance support contracts.

Our client, Porterbrook, is one of the top three ROSCOs in the UK and owns approximately a third of the national fleet of rolling stock. As an owner of rolling stock, Porterbook must do everything possible to ensure the Fault Free Running period (FFR) is performed correctly to minimise risk and future breakdowns.

Expleo are a valuable partner to Porterbrook providing expert, professional and customer focused input whilst representing us during the testing phase of our recent new build project. Their flexible, experienced and proactive approach has truly added value for both Porterbrook and our customer. They have a detailed knowledge and understanding of testing phases and practices, as well as of recent new build rolling stock and technical issues and have proven to be a cost effective partner to support this critical element of project delivery and asset protection.

Challenge: Ensure that the fault free running period (FFR) limits all risks of future failures

ROSCOs carry the ongoing residual value risk for their rolling stock assets over their 30-40 lifespan. They must monitor their stock and ensure it is maintained adequately by the TOCs. Keeping trains on lease throughout their life, represents a major challenge particularly when potentially cheaper and more attractive new stock is introduced.

One of the ROSCOs’ key challenges is to successfully ensure the proper Fault-Free Running process (FFR), and this is where Expleo comes in: the train manufacturer’s testing phase covers thousands of miles where all of a new assets’ faults and failures are recorded. When no significant faults are detected, the vehicles are declared fit for purpose and accepted into service in accordance with the procurement contract for this fleet of trains. ROSCOs therefore must take a highly active role during this phase. They tend to own their own in-house engineering team, but bring in additional services and resources, as and when needed, to supplement their own expert support. Porterbrook’s team is focused on asset protection and managing, arranging or contracting regular heavy maintenance of their fleet of trains.

For this particular project, the client needed full-time on-site engineering representation at their Wembley Depot (London), during the testing programme. It is cost-effective for Porterbrook to contract this work externally for the four to six month testing duration, using one of their approved suppliers. Expleo was therefore asked to closely monitor the assets during the fault-free running process.


Our specific rolling stock knowledge can ensure the fault-free running process is performed correctly by train manufacturers. As we have worked closely with the company producing Porterbrook’s specific assets, our knowledge of the vehicles is extremely valuable. We are able to better detect faults during the FFR period, which is vital as ROSCOs’ business model relies on production fleets being very reliable once they go on lease with their customer. Operating as our clients’ ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground:

  • We can ensure the rolling stock is tested adequately and accumulates the required mileage without major issues.
  • Where problems are identified, we are involved in agreeing corrective measures to ensure the rolling stock is delivered to an agreed standard of performance.
  • Communication is vital and our engineers must report issues back to Porterbrook but also liaise with the train manufacturers’ representatives on-site. A flexible approach is also required due to the stop/start nature of testing – everything has to stop when an issue arises.

Our services to the ROSCO community include a range of maintenance services, technical and business consultancy support, from project management, to design work, turnkey modifications services (Passenger Information Systems, LED lighting, interior upgrades etc.) and technical investigations into problems, issues and options being considered etc. The overall process is key to ensuring the assets’ quality is optimal, and that they will be able to be leased over longer periods of time.

Outcome & benefits for Porterbrook

  • Expleo’s long experience of FFR programmes and suitable corrective actions result in a robust period of fault-free running. We help enhance the quality of the rolling stock asset, decreasing the overall costs associated with introducing these trains into service operation with train operators. Having worked for years with the trains’ manufacturer, we have extensive knowledge of the client’s assets.
  • We are able to identify issues that would otherwise may have been overlooked or not addressed correctly, whilst understanding our client’s operational performance and challenges.
  • Our on-site support can significantly enhance and protect the asset’s life in the long term and leasing opportunities for this new fleet of trains. This, in turn, minimises warranty and service operation issues when the trains enter service with the train operator.

Expleo is a trusted partner to Porterbrook and effectively a key part of their ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground to ensure the client’s rolling stock is tested and accumulates the required mileage, without service effecting issues or faults. Where issues are identified, Expleo will be involved in agreeing corrective measures and ensure that the rolling stock is delivered having met an agreed standard of performance and reliability.

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