INNOTRANS: The increasing global popularity of European-style light systems is providing a boost for Mercedes-Benz's Unimog range of trucks, which the manufacturer's industrial partners such as Zagro and Zweiweg can adapt for a multitude of road-rail applications.

Unimogs are in widespread use with European tramways, and based on this success are now being ordered for use on lines being developed in cities in locations as diverse as Australia, the Middle East and South America.

Vehicles on show at InnoTrans 2016 include a Type U423 converted to road-rail operation by Zweiweg and fitted with a wide array of tools to show what is possible; 'anything it can do on road, it can do on rail', Unimog told Railway Gazette.

The most noticeable piece of equipment is a menacing-looking rotary device for clearing snow from tram lines. It also has a elevated working platform, which the vehicle can be controlled from when carrying out work on overhead electrification equipment.

Also on show is a Type U423 converted to road-rail operation by Zagro. This can hauls trains of up to 52 axles or around 800 tonnes. The machine on show has been ordered by Deutsche Bahn for use at an inter-city rolling stock depot in Hannover, where it is expected to bring a significant fuel saving compared to the conventional diesel shunting locomotive which is currently used there.

A third vehicle combines a crane and work basket with the capability of hauling up to 400 tonnes.

Unimog builds its trucks in road mode, and these are then modified for rail use by a range of specialist partners it works closely with. According to Unimog, future rail applications are taken into account at the design stage, to ensure that the rail partners do not need to modify the trucks' core systems.

Developments being highlighted at InnoTrans 2016 include TÜV Süd Rail fire safety certification for Unimogs with fire detection and extinguishing systems, enabling a road-rail vehicle to operate in a tunnel at the same time as trains carrying passengers.