INTRO: Unveiled at InnoTrans, the Lightweight Regional Express has traction modules on the roof, flywheel energy storage and single-axle bogies. Passengers will give their verdict in 2002

MANY VISITORS to the InnoTrans event in Berlin made a beeline for what appeared to be a giant scarlet caterpillar crouching between the main exhibition halls. The unusual appearance of the Lightweight Regional Express proved a big draw, and anyone who investigated quickly established that the train was radically different from almost all other rail vehicles.

Developed by Alstom LHB in co-operation with German Railway and the Land of Sachsen-Anhalt, Lirex was assembled by Fahrzeugtechnik Dessau. The six-car experimental train is intended to test numerous technical innovations and design concepts geared towards economy of operation and environmental acceptability. In many respects Lirex is a derivative of the wide-body S-bane unit developed by LHB for Danish State Railways’ København suburban services. This article highlights the main design features.

n Wide bodies. Taken directly from the Danish trains, the bodies have an external width of 3042mm. Their short shells (bottom) mean that the trains still conform to the EBO-G2 loading gauge.

n Single-axle bogies. These are of the KERF design. Six of the eight axles are powered by an asynchronous water-cooled traction motor hung from the bogie frame behind the axle. Nominal rating is 190 kW and weight 480 kg. Given that future versions of the train may run at 200 km/h, provision has been made for a magnetic rail brake. Dampers are from Mannesmann-Sachs.

n Low floor. To achieve a floor height of 790mm throughout the train, much of the equipment normally found under the floor is mounted in the roof. This includes power packs, fuel tanks and air-conditioning modules. Wide single-leaf access doors allow level boarding from 790mm high platforms and can be fitted with ramps for access from 550mm high platforms.

n Lightweight structures. Bodyshells are of lightweight stainless steel construction. Interior panelling makes use of natural fibres embedded in a matrix of biopolymer material, 80 to 90% of which is from renewable sources.

n Traction equipment. Both diesel and electric traction versions are envisaged, and a fuel cell derivative is anticipated. The experimental train has two roof-mounted power packs slung in a frame for easy exchange. In each pack a standard automotive diesel engine is directly coupled to a 12HFS3038 permanent magnet excited synchronous generator weighing 440 kg. This generates a continous output of 300 kW at 1900 rev/min. Power is fed to an intermediate DC circuit via diode bridges and thence to an Onix 1500 traction package.

n Flywheel energy storage. The six-car set has two roof-mounted 800mm diameter flywheels that can store energy generated during braking. These can be used to boost traction, to power auxiliaries during stops, or to provide starting power where low noise emissions are specified.

n Interior design. The interior is divided into business, panorama, club and quiet areas. The business section has face-to-face seating with tables, sockets for portable computers and repeaters that offer enhanced reception for mobile phones. In the club section the emphasis is on relaxation; one car features a 40in video screen that can serve as a cinema. The catering section has been designed for crewed or automated operation, with an ingenious set of bar and storage modules able to house three trolleys. This is the only part of the train where smoking is permitted.

n On-board equipment. Passengers are able to consult electronic timetables and to purchase tickets on board. Younger customers have access to computer games machines in the gangway areas. Seatback entertainment equipment from GSP Sprachtechnologie offers radio, video films, a view of the track in front of the train, or the services of the train’s intranet.

Tests with Lirex began immediately after InnoTrans, and authority to operate the unit is expected from the Federal Railway Authority by the end of 2001. n

CAPTION: Looking ahead to commercial trials in 2002 on the Magdeburg - Halberstadt route, German Railway has designated Lirex as Class 618/619

CAPTION: Below left: High roof fairings mask the roof-mounted equipment

Below: The KERF single-axle bogie has soft springs in the primary suspension

CAPTION: The wide bodies permit a spacious interior (top) with full-width gangways. The catering area includes a bar counter and sofas

CAPTION: Panorama area in one of the end cars. When the train enters commercial service, a glass partition will separate the saloon from the cab

Far right: The cinema section in one car has a 40 inscreen

LiReX turns train design upside down

Unveiled at the InnoTrans exhibition in Berlin in September, the Lightweight Regional Express has traction modules on the roof, flywheel energy storage, single-axle bogies and a wealth of other technical innovations. The radically different interior includes panelling made from replenishable raw materials and a suite of electronic information and entertainment packages. Passengers will give their verdict on this experimental train in 2002

Lirex met sens dessus dessous le design ferroviaire

Dévoilé en septembre à l’exposition InnoTrans de Berlin, l’Express Régional Léger (Lirex) a ses modules de traction en toiture, une accumulation d’énergie par volant d’inertie, des bogies à un seul essieu et une fouletitude d’autres innovations technologiques. Les aménagements intérieurs radicalement différents comportent des matériaux bruts remplaçables et des ensembles électroniques pour l’information et le divertissement. En 2002, les voyageurs rendront leur verdict sur le train expérimental

Lirex kehrt die Konstruktion um

Der im September an der InnoTrans-Ausstellung in Berlin vorgestellte Leichte Regionalexpress (Lightweight Regional Express, Lirex) zeichnet sich durch Traktionsmodule auf dem Dach, Schwungrad-Energiespeicher, Einzelachs-Fahrwerke und eine Menge weiterer technischer Innovationen aus. Das radikal verschiedene Interieur umfasst Paneele aus nachwachsenden Rohmaterialien und eine Reihe von elektronischen Informations- und Unterhaltungsgeräten. Die Reisenden werden ihr Urteil zu diesem Versuchszug im Jahre 2002 abgeben k