collective authors
Published on November 24, 2020

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Railway maintenance: alternatives to new-for-old replacement

To support its local authority clients in safeguarding their infrastructure, Egis today offers an Asset Management approach which combines the resolution of technical maintenance challenges with consideration for the fundamental goals of the public transport authority (PTA). Indeed, asset wear and deterioration can lead to knock-on effects on passenger safety and service, but also on wider aspects such as the authority’s image or its legal liability.

Maintenance Tramway de Grenoble

- Crédits : © O. Berger - Egis

Egis draws on its in-depth knowledge of all maintenance processes, proposing ‘light’ but high added value processes in addition to the conventional solution of infrastructure replacement. Our experience has led us to observe that these cost-efficient tasks can have a major effect on the asset’s lifecycle. They can keep it in operational condition while also deferring, or spreading further over time, heavy and expensive replacement operations.

Grenoble light rail system: a textbook case

Such was the approach adopted by our teams on the Grenoble tram track heavy maintenance programme. They introduced new operations into the engineering works contracts, such as detailed inspections of track switches (including partial dismantling), replacement of switch blade and upgrading of stock rail profile, repairs of crossings, rail resurfacing, replacement of heavily-used settings parts, repairs of metallic defects, coating of slipping surfaces, etc. This offered several benefits to the PTA, since it then had a tailor-made maintenance policy that met its budgetary and operational requirements.

Using a comparative study based on the experience of the network, we thus persuaded the Grenoble PTA that the adoption of a strategy incorporating maintenance operations (rail resurfacing) prior to replacement would, over a minimum 15-year period, deliver savings of 50% compared with a straightforward end-of-life cycle replacement strategy.

Increased experience alongside operators

During the autumn of 2020, we supervised some very technical operations on site. During a single night, specialist contractors replaced two switches at the A-B track junction at Saint Bruno tram stop and resurfaced the rails at Saint Claire-Les Halles tram stop. In addition to monitoring these works, our presence on site allows us to round out and update our proficiency in these industrial processes: safety, procedures, productivity, impact, total cost, etc., and perfect our knowledge in rail track fixture degradation laws.

These valuable experiences alongside operators, contractors and manufacturers are essential for the continuous improvement of our working methods to provide an ever better-tuned response to the expectations of our contracting authorities.

By proposing an alternative to new-for-old replacement, Egis offers a more complete maintenance policy which includes, whenever possible, operations that enable the PTA to significantly reduce the impact of works on budget and services, but also neighbourhood disturbance. The commitment of our experts and their proximity to on-the-ground activities are key factors that can help to secure operations and make them reliable for the long term, while taking into consideration asset managers’ budgetary restrictions.

The authors

Olivier Berger,

Expert, Infrastructures and track department


Gilles Parent,

Engineer, Infrastructures and track department


Jérôme Grangé,

Head of Asset Management​



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