On-Train Monitoring Recorders (OTMR)

This article was opened on 10 January 2005, and last updated on 7 March 2015.

See also the section on Central Door Locking, as the two projects initially ran in parallel.


For our train to be driven on the main line, since 2006 its driving vehicles have needed to be fitted with Data Recorders or “black boxes”, officially known as On-Train Monitoring Recorders (OTMR). These record every action that the crew makes at the controls.

The DEMUs are of course not controlled by computer, unlike modern trains; therefore every control has to be fitted with an extra contact and wiring — to every notch on the master controller, the various positions of the driver’s brake valve, AWS/TPWS reset button and cut-outs, and so forth. The sheer amount of extra wiring has to be seen to be believed, and we have provided the proof below! The photographs are by Andy Armitage.

Current status

As at the date (above) on which this article was last modified:

Fitting of OTMR to Motor Coach 60118 Tunbridge Wells was completed on 6 April 2007, with Motor Coach 60116 Mountfield likewise about six weeks later.

On Friday 22 June 2007, both of the above vehicles passed inspection and, given the completion of a parallel project to fit Central Door Locking (CDL), were re-certified to run on the main line.

On 4 March 2015, OTMR was commissioned on motor coach 60019 as part of its general overhaul and restoration.

Of our other two motor coaches, one (60001) is stored in original condition; and 60000 Hastings is due for a more general overhaul and rewiring job during which OTMR & CDL will be fitted.


[PHOTO: Interface-box in cab: 40kB]

Above: The OTMR interface unit in the cab of motor coach 60019 during commissioning on 4 March 2015. The repainted vehicle-number reflects the future re-numbering of this vehicle to 60119, which will happen upon re-certification. Photo by Andrew King.

[PHOTO: interior of guard’s van with orange box on wall: 50kB]

Above: Another new box has appeared in the guard’s vans; this is a connection & termination point for the many wires associated with the OTMR equipment. Below: A view down into the box reveals its contents.

[PHOTO: interior of connection-box in guard’s van: 61kB]

Work on fitting the first set of equipment was begun in conjunction with the supplier, Arrowvale, on Tuesday 30 May 2006; motor coach 60118 Tunbridge Wells was the vehicle chosen.

[PHOTO: orange box with buttons and LCD readout: 46kB]

Above: This box is about to be fitted within the cab.

[PHOTO: interior of cab with covers removed from controls: 84kB]

Above: The pedestals of the Master Controller and the Driver’s Brake Valve, with covers removed revealing their contacts, wiring & plumbing. Wiring work has commenced but there is much still to do in these views (July 2006). Below: The equipment cabinet on the offside of the cab, neatly illustrating the work required to provide an interface between heavy-duty DC circuits and modern computer equipment.

[PHOTO: interior of cab equipment case during wiring work: 95kB]