Brigitte Hafner
is a communicator in the Rail Cargo Group
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RCG Inside

Boxstop for our Taurus-locomotive

Traction vehicles also have to get maintained on a regular basis and it is quite a feat when a Taurus weighing almost 90 tons, the bull among the ÖBB locomotives, has to change wheels. This is essential in order to make rail freight transport safe, reliable and efficient.

In the ÖBB workshops, everything is about the optimum maintenance of rail vehicles. ÖBB-Technische Services is our competent partner when it comes to the safe and reliable maintenance, further development of locomotives and freight wagons and their components throughout Central and Southeast Europe. By professionally servicing and maintaining rail vehicles, we contribute importantly to the attractiveness of rail freight transport.

A locomotive in an ÖBB workshop. © ÖBB_Roland Steinberger

More than just the maintenance of locomotives

The Rail Cargo Group owns 643 locomotives. 445 of these are in daily use to transport goods from A to B by rail in an environmentally friendly manner. 198 locomotives are available for shunting operations. Heavy traction units are subject to certain maintenance and servicing regulations. The individual maintenance steps range from inspections or small service improvements to extensive maintenance or overhaul work. During such major maintenance and repair work, which is mandatory for Taurus locomotives, for example, every 1.2 million kilometres, individual vehicle components such as wheelsets, vehicle engines, compressors or drive units are removed, maintained, exchanged or repaired. Many parts of rail vehicles are subject to natural wear and tear. That does not mean, however, that they have to be thrown away, as a blunt knife can also be sharpened again, right?

Precision to perfection

Wheelsets, for example, are given a new profile, and automatic brushing and painting systems ensure a perfect surface for the axes. After all, the quality of the wheelset determine the safety.

Nothing escapes the computer-controlled ultrasonic inspection system at the leading wheelset centre in Europe in the ÖBB workshop in Knittelfeld, Styria. © ÖBB Roland Steinberger

Highest precision, use of state-of-the-art technologies and complete quality controls are the basis for uncompromising safety. © ÖBB Roland Steinberger

Highest precision, use of state-of-the-art technologies and complete quality controls are the basis for uncompromising safety. © ÖBB Roland Steinberger

When railway bogies, in other words the wheels of a rail vehicle, are exchanged, the locomotives go high. Then a 100-ton crane is used to lift the locomotive almost without any difficulty. A high level of safety awareness, experience and a great deal of sensitivity are required to control the crane precisely. Once the locomotive body has been lifted, the bogie can be easily replaced before the locomotive body is properly reattached to the new running gear. The hotspot for the majority of ÖBB’s locomotive fleets is the ÖBB workshop in Upper Austria’s capital. After all, Linz is the indispensable hub for the maintenance, modernisation and repair of modern locomotives and their components for the whole of Europe. On 61,000 square metres or an area the size of more than 15 football pitches, Linz carries out 280 locomotive revisions per year and refurbishes 1,500 traction motors and 2,000 traction wheel sets. Once all the work has been completed, the locomotives are ready for their next million. Depending on the mileage of the locomotives, a Taurus is inspected in the workshop every six to seven years on average.

The heavy ÖBB Taurus is going high in the ÖBB workshop in Linz. The locomotive is ready for the exchange of its bogie. © ÖBB Wolfgang Spitzbart

Know-how and when

Modern vehicles are only economical if they are used as much as possible. That’s why our approach is to maintain vehicles when they’re not needed. When it comes to maintenance and overhaul work, we focus entirely on modular maintenance in scheduled shutdowns. In detail, this means that existing repairs are dismantled into individual modules and integrated into scheduled downtimes, i.e. when the vehicle is not in scheduled use. Maintenance is therefore even more closely linked to the locomotive rotation schedules. This is not the only reason why our quality in the maintenance of rail vehicles and our technical competence are recognised throughout Europe. In combination with a dense network of workshops, this makes economic maintenance of rail vehicles possible far beyond the borders of Austria. Due to Austria’s optimal location in the heart of Europe, through which almost all European main traffic connections lead, we are quickly and effectively at hand.