High-strength steels take the fast track

  • 19-Jun-2008 08:30 EDT

The use of several high-strength steel varieties in Vossloh’s Euro 4000 locomotive resulted in a 25% reduction in chassis weight. Its maximum speed is 120 km/h (75 mph).

The designers of a diesel-electric locomotive that Vossloh Locomotives debuted in 2007 reduced the chassis weight by 25% by using high-strength steels. The result is a locomotive that the company says provides better transport economics, more evenly distributed axle loads with lower wear of the rails, and better protection for the driver due to improved deformation properties in the event of a crash.

Switching to high-strength steel made it possible to fit both a larger and more powerful engine and a new intercooling system, without exceeding the rail network’s weight limits. The intercooler cools the combustion air, which minimizes NOx emissions and other pollutants. The engine from Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD), formerly the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, is a 16-V two-stroke, electronic fuel-injection diesel, which EMD describes as its “most fuel efficient.” It provides 4250 hp (3170 kW). The engine’s low consumption is complimented by a 7000-L (1850-gal) fuel capacity to enable the locomotive to cover up to 2000 km (1243 mi) without having to refuel.

Stricter environmental and safety requirements combined with increasingly congested roads are expected to draw more and more attention to the use of railways as a transportation alternative worldwide. The Euro 4000 locomotive meets these new safety and efficiency requirements. According to Vossloh, the new locomotive will allow a higher utilization ratio on the existing rail network. This, in turn, will increase the shipment volumes that can be handled by rail. The Euro 4000 increased traction capacity via six D43 traction motors, allowing it to be used to both haul heavy trains up steep grades and lighter trains at higher speeds.

Vossloh used a hot-rolled, 6-mm (0.24-in) thick high-strength steel with a yield strength of 500 MPa (73 ksi) for the new chassis. This material choice made it possible to produce a brand new chassis design with reduced thickness of various parts.

The chassis around the driver seat can withstand considerable stresses. High-strength steel is also used for new “crash boxes” that have been fitted to absorb the collision energy. For this application, Vossloh used an advanced high-strength steel with a yield strength of 700 MPa (102 ksi). Without reliable protection such as the new crash boxes, even minor collisions may have major financial consequences.

Around 800 Vossloh employees work on the development and production of railway vehicles.

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