SPAIN: Talgo is developing a carbon fibre reinforced polymer composite version of its characteristic ‘rodal’ running gear frames. The company expects this will offer a 50% reduction in weight compared to using welded steel plates, with an associated cut in energy consumption and track wear as well as simplified assembly processes.
The required geometry along with welding properties and fatigue considerations impose significant constraints on reducing weight while using current materials and processes, and so after studying alternative materials and processes Talgo selected CFRP as the best option for taking a new approach.
Manufacturing is based on hand lay-up CFRP prepreg, making the rodal compliant with the most stringent fire, smoke and toxicity standards for rail.
Talgo has now completed full-scale validation of structural requirements according to EN 13749 standards, including static and fatigue tests exceeding 10 million cycles, with NDT inspection finding no significant damage. On-track trials under real-world conditions are now planned.
The project will also provide knowledge for the sector-wide implementation of standards for the acceptance process of new materials such as CFRP in the rail sector (CEN/TC 256/SC 2/WG 54).
The project has been supported by the European Commission through the Shift2Rail initiative.
The prototype uses the Avril high speed train as a reference, but other Talgo inter-city or commuter vehicles could be used, and similar techniques could be used for other rolling stock structural components.