Train engines to get the Rolls Royce treatment

Iarnród Éireann has awarded a contract to Rolls-Royce to retrofit new gear transmissions to a 3-carriage Intercity train, to assess fuel and emission savings from the new system.

The trial, if successful and rolled out to the 234 carriage Intercity railcar fleet, could see annual fuel and emission savings of 19%.

This would generate annual fuel bill savings of almost €3m, annual CO2 reductions of 1.2 million kilograms, and further maintenance savings. The new system will also reduce noise levels from train operations, particularly during acceleration.

The Intercity railcar fleet is Iarnród Éireann’s largest single fleet, and operates Intercity services on routes between Dublin and Sligo, Westport, Galway, Limerick, Tralee, Waterford and Rosslare, as well as some services between Dublin and Cork, and some commuter services including Phoenix Park Tunnel and M3 Parkway/Docklands services.

It was manufactured in Korea by Hyundai Rotem.

The fleet entered service between 2007 and 2012, and advances in technology have led Iarnród Éireann to seek a more efficient drive solution given the life cycle of the fleet is likely to extend for another 20-25 years.

The new ZF EcoWorld gear transmissions are designed and manufactured by ZF in Friedrichshafen, Germany and are used in the drivetrain powerpack manufactured by Rolls Royce subsidiary MTU who are also located in Friedrichshafen.

Three powerpack rafts from the existing fleet have been shipped to Germany for these works and upon return will be fitted to the trial train, to validate the performance early in 2019. Should the trials prove successful, Iarnród Éireann propose fleet deployment would begin in 2019 subject to funding approval.

Installation would take place at planned major overhauls for the fleet, and would take 4 years to complete. In addition, the transmission allows a future migration path for the fitment of a hybrid module on each powerpack.

This is in line with the company’s future fleet strategy to move to hybrid and electric fleet as part of the 300 new carriages to be ordered over the coming decade under the National Development Plan.

Iarnród Éireann Chief Mechanical Engineer Peter Smyth said:

Rail travel is already the most environmentally sustainable way to travel. However, we are constantly assessing new technology to ensure we can further improve our efficiency. We are confident this trial will yield dramatic improvements in fuel efficiency with the associated cost, emission and noise reductions.

- Digital Desk


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