In a bid to improve the amount of friction between wheel and rail during the autumn and winter months, Vossloh Kiepe UK is working with Network Rail to find innovative ways to improve safety and reduce delays caused by adhesion problems.
Vossloh Kiepe UK, formerly Transys Projects, is the leading supplier of train adhesion improvement systems in the UK and is responsible for the introduction of ‘on train’ sandite laying, which has been trialled successfully in Nottinghamshire and East Anglia.
During a complex programme for Network Rail, involving the design, supply and installation of multishot sanders on to Classes 142, 143, 144, 150, 153, 155 and 156 units, Vossloh Kiepe UK has conducted its own research and development to improve the technology. By adding adjustability features to the systems, Vossloh Kiepe UK has reduced on-going maintenance cost of the sanders. The company has also manufactured new sand delivery valves, improving the quality and the service life.
In addition to this, Vossloh Kiepe UK has been working on ways of building on the success of Network Rail’s railhead treatment trains, which utilise a mixture of gel and sand to improve adhesion for longer periods of time. The density of traffic on most lines means that timetable restrictions do not allow for regular operation of these special trains.
Vossloh Kiepe UK and Network Rail ran a successful trial on the London to Norwich line in Autumn 2011, utilising service trains to lay the sandite while in service. A DVT vehicle ran for the whole leaf-fall season laying the sandite mixture for a total of 430 hours on various sites. Using internet and Wi-Fi communications, the train was able to treat new sites within four hours of problems occurring.
Vossloh Kiepe UK’s managing director Graham Roberts said: “We’re expecting this technology to be very popular as companies look for solutions this autumn. Even with the sophisticated electronic traction and wheel spin control systems on current trains, no train is better than the actual friction available at the wheel to rail interface. Modern systems are designed to maximise the available grip, but reduced friction always means reduced acceleration and braking.
“The performance of the network is dependent upon the ability of trains to operate as normally as possible during wet and windy periods during the autumn and we’re keen to develop this technology and design the integration of this equipment on to other rolling stock types.”