BRAZIL: Following 18 months of trials on Vale's metre-gauge heavy freight lines, V&M do Brasil is seeking type approval for its tubular axle design, which the company claims could allow operators to increase payloads by up to 1 tonne per wagon.

The machined tubular axle was developed to fit 1000 mm and 1600 mm gauge wagons on a like-for-like basis to replace solid variants.

According to V&M's Technical Director Antonio Medeiros Fonseca, the tubular axle offers a weight saving of around 35% against conventional solid designs. The company believes that, although the initial outlay to fit the tubular axle is greater because of the higher grade steel required, heavy haul operators would be interested by the commercial gains over the life of the axle. The lifespan of a hollow axle is the same as a solid one, Fonseca added.

V&M has signed a contract to supply an initial batch of 500 to Vale, and the company is working with TTCI to test the design in the US market.