Chinese seek faster rerailing

FACED with only 239 breakdown cranes to cover a network of over 62000 route-km, Chinese Railways has been stretched to cover rescue and rerailing operations after minor derailments. Many of the cranes are rated at less than 1 000 kN, and are limited to 40 km/h when being towed in train, further restricting their availability.

Taiyuan Railway Research Institute of Science & Technology has now developed a range of lightweight portable rerailing equipment, including hydraulic jacks and power lifting bags. TRIST says the cost of its equipment is only a fraction of the capital value of a 1600 kN breakdown crane. Each set requires a team of six to eight part-time staff and can cover a radius of 50 km from base.

The portable equipment can also be used in difficult locations such as sharp curves, tunnels or electrified lines with tight clearances.

Tests in Datong have proved that a six-axle SS3 electric loco weighing 138 tonnes could be rerailed within 20min. The power lifting bags have also been successfully used in bridge reconstruction work.

Taiyuan Railway Research Institute of Science & Technology

Reader Enquiry Number 141

GPS speeds track defect monitoring

BRITISH infrastructure maintenance contractor Amey Rail has started testing GPS-based data loggers for recording and analysing track faults and defects. Developed by Aralia Systems of West Sussex, the portable units enable inspectors to locate and record details along the line.

Inspectors are provided with a Husky data logger connected to a backpack housing a GPS satellite navigation unit. The data logger screen displays the track location, on which existing defects are superimposed, and new faults can be added. The status of defects can be updated where necessary.

After each inspection, the data is downloaded to Amey Rail’s main computer for display on a computerised mapping system. This is cross-referenced with line diagrams and maintenance records to prioritise rectification programmes and minimise line closures.

Amey Rail, Great Britain

Reader Enquiry Number 142

Products In Brief

Road-rail specialist Zweiweg-Schneider has launched a Unimog-based ballast profiling unit, known as the Loctrac ZW100S Scorpion. Able to run at 50 km/h on rail and 62 km/h on road, the Scorpion has front and side ploughs, plus two hydraulic compactors at the rear to consolidate the ballast. All equipment can be operated from the cab by one person.

US steel supplier Freedom Forge Corp has installed a Phased Array Ultrasonic System for inspection and evaluation of wheelsets manufactured by its Standard Steel subsidiary in Burnham, Pennsylvania. Developed by Krautkramer-Branson Inc, this is the first application of phased-array technology to rail wheelset inspection. Over 250 transducers are used to maximise volumetric coverage of the wheel; the beams can be steered and focused within the wheel rim to enhance the evaluation to meet more stringent requirements.

Hong Kong MTR Corp has installed MIMS Open Enterprise software from asset management supplier Minicom Ltd to manage the maintenance, materials and human resource elements of its new Finance, Logistics & Maintenance System. FLM is designed to service over 700 concurrent users, managing 230000 pieces of equipment, 100000 stock items and dealings with over 7000 suppliers.

Wabtec Corp subsidiary Microphor has introduced a water-saving air-assisted flush toilet for use in locomotives and passenger coaches. Requiring only 1·1 litres per flush, the new unit is available with a stainless steel or powder-coated finish in a variety of colours.

Battery supplier Saft has launched a hybrid battery to provide reliable trackside power for signalling and communications functions. The SPL combines the robust construction of a pocket-plate nickel-cadmium battery with the gas recombination and large electrolyte reserve of ultra-low-maintenance types to halve the lifetime cost associated with lead-acid batteries.

Electrical connectors manufacturer AMP has developed a new range of catenary contact droppers for high-speed applications. Hermaphrodite connectors which clip together using an over-centre action eliminate traditional bolt fastenings and simplify installation. The cast connectors minimise vibration transmission, and the phosphor-bronze connecting cable ensures a high-integrity electrical contact.

Swiss wagon leasing group Wascosa has launched an internet-based fleet database and wagon tracking system for use by major customers including Hoechst. BP and Shell. This provides full details of the various wagons available for hire, and real-time location data based on telematics supplied by Krupp Timtec Telematik.

Reader Enquiry Numbers Microphor 146Zweiweg-Schneider 143 Saft 147Standard Steel 144 AMP 148Minicom Ltd 145 KruppTimtec 149