The Train Assisted Faults and Failures System (TAFFS) is believed to be the UK’s first web-based diagnostic system for failed trains that can be used by both train service controllers on PCs and engineers carrying iPads.

The system guides the controller/engineer in conversation with the driver of the stricken train through the most logical steps to fix the fault in the shortest space of time.

If the problem can’t be rectified, it will guide them to options for either evacuating passengers or attaching another train to push or pull it out.

TAFFS advises what emergency couplers might be needed to move the train and identifies any compatibility issues with the differing types of trains that may be used, while all the time running a timer and advising those in charge of the next course of action.

Hornsey rolling stock inspector Keith Taffs (left) and fleet performance manager Terry Ridley use an iPad to trial the new diagnostic system on a Class 313 train

With First Capital Connect carrying more than 150,000 people a day, head of engineering production, Jason Long, said that within the first six months of its introduction there was a 46 per cent reduction in delay minutes due to train faults, some of which can be attributed to the new system.

Long said: ‘This is all about clearing the rail line as quickly as possible, either by getting the train back into service or moving it in the most efficient way possible.That should mean fewer cancellations of services caught behind the failed train and less inconvenience for the passengers who may be stuck on board.’