Faster ballast cleaning in turnouts using the URM 700-2

Our multi-talent for ballast bed cleaning, the URM 700, will be updated. A repositioning of the work units will further optimise the work sequences and ensure that the particular European requirements are met.

The URM 700 universal ballast cleaning machine is our multi-talent for ballast bed cleaning.

The URM 700 system can perform all standard working methods of on-track ballast cleaning, particularly ballast cleaning in turnouts. In addition, it cleans plain track and ballast shoulders. The supply of new ballast is an integral feature of the design in all versions. It is even possible to perform a full exchange of the ballast.

Due to the fast and independent installation and removal of the excavating unit, the URM 700 can also work cost-efficiently on short sections of track. This prevents full track closures and significantly minimises the time window required for ballast cleaning in turnouts. This is exactly what railway administrations require: fast, safe and high-quality ballast cleaning in turnouts without long track possessions.

Powerful concept stood the test

The prototype of the URM 700 was thoroughly tested on the network of Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB). Put into operation in 2012, the machine successfully cleaned or exchanged the ballast in 36 turnouts and connecting tracks by the end of 2016. The most diverse turnout designs and cross-overs were maintained in short track possessions.

These operations have shown that the URM 700 needs 3.5 to 4.5 hours to maintain an EW 1200 turnout. Most of the works were performed without infringements of the adjacent clearance gauge. Material logistics was handled entirely in the track under repair.

Valuable experiences implemented on the URM 700-2

Based on the considerable experiences gained, the machine was redesigned after its final work site operations at the end of 2016. 

Outstanding features of the new URM 700-2:

  1. The repositioned work units, including an additional shoulder excavating unit at the front end of the machine, enable ballast cleaning in tracks and turnouts in less time. For the first time, the turnout can be completely maintained in one working pass – without reversing the machine. 

    The URM 700-2 allows maintaining turnouts from either direction. This is a major benefit if several turnouts must be cleaned after each other. Depending on the work profile, the straight section between two turnouts can even be maintained using two shoulder excavating chains.

  2. A new trough scraper at the excavating guide bar continuously collects the material. Undesired heaps, impairing the track geometry and thus the position of the turnout, can be prevented.
  3. Three lifting units providing additional lifting points with telescopic arms, known from our turnout tamping machines, improve the handling of heavy concrete-sleepered turnouts.
  4. Moreover, the process of placing cleaned ballast in the sleeper grid has been revised. An additional ballasting device behind the excavating chain ensures that the ballast is distributed uniformly.
  5. The new URM 700-2 has also been equipped with a separate 15 m³ ballast hopper. As a result, there is no need to store the ballast in a material conveyor and hopper unit, thus increasing the amount of reusable ballast.
  6. The installation of four additional drive axles and new, stronger engines allow a higher tractive force. 
  7. A dust arresting atomiser unit reduces environmental pollution.

New operating concept – more operational safety


An important aim of the machine update is to further improve the safety and operating concept for the crew. Therefore, the operators are provided with cabins and safe workplaces on the machine in the area of the shoulder excavating unit, at the lifting clamps, the main lift, the excavating sword, and the ballast chutes.

We expect the redesign of the URM 700-2 to result in higher work output and increased operational safety. This enables cost-effective ballast cleaning in turnouts and reduces environmental pollution.