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Good things come in pairs

There’s a saying that identical twins have a lot in common and, at the same time, they are quite different. The same is true for the new 2X-4x4 tamping unit. One half works perfectly in turnouts, while the second half of the duo operates mainly on tracks.

The NRC Group (Nordic Railroad Construction Group)

is a relatively young company in track construction. Founded in 2011 under the name ‘Team Bane’, with 2,500 employees it is by its own account the leading contractor in rail infrastructure in the Nordics (Norway, Sweden, and Finland). Much like Plasser & Theurer, they put a great deal of emphasis on quality from the beginning.

The new tamping unit: you make a wish, two come true. The unit half that works in turnouts offers full movability and absolute flexibility. On tracks, however, it is performance that counts. There, both halves work hand in hand in 2X mode. The unit half that works on tracks has reduced movability. The combined effort of the unit halves showcases Plasser & Theurer’s new guiding principle: sustainability. It falls in line with high capacity, precision, and reliability. Combining the strengths of this “ever diverse pair” makes it possible to reduce wear sustainably.

Universal tamping at its best

Combining plain track and turnout tamping into a single machine is nothing new. What is new, however, is the 2X-4x4 tamping unit's set-up. The unit combines universal 4x4 turnout tamping in 1-sleeper mode and increased output on the track and parts of the turnout thanks to 2X. It is the perfect unit for maintaining station areas, transfer points, and for tamping several turnouts and short sections of track in between. Thanks to its flexible design, this tamping unit easily handles tamping the other way round: several sections of track and the occasional maintenance of turnouts.

The 2-in-1 tamping unit of the new Unimat 09-2X-4x4/4S

Two machines for Scandinavia have already been fitted with the new unit. Both Unimat 09-2X-4x4/4S machines, built for operators in Sweden and Norway, are fitted with the same tamping units and sweeper trailers. The rest of the machines are equipped according to specific requirements.

One of the longest tamping machines ever

By using the new Unimat 09-2X-4x4/4S, the NRC Group has opted for an innovative work concept in one of the longest tamping machines ever built in Linz. The impressive length of 56 m also leaves room for a crew room and a workshop. The Norwegian design comprises four machine parts with one front wagon and multiple axles, which reduce axle loads.

The new Unimat has two engines with an output of 600 kW each. Here’s why two engines are better than one: there’s a 20 km long steep line between Bergen and Oslo with gradients of up to 25 ‰. Trains must travel along this line at a minimum speed of 60 km/h. The Unimat 09-2X-4x4/4S easily masters category C2 lines with axle loads below 20 t.

In January 2020, ten employees of the NRC Group attended our Linz Training Centre to learn to work with the new Unimat 09-2X-4x4/4S. This also meant training in controlling track geometry using the SmartALC and in documenting track geometry using the DRP data recording processor.

The first tamping machine to be fitted with the “ever diverse pair” left Linz at the end of January 2020 and has been put into operation in Norway. The NRC Group is a very productive operator: their tamping machines can operate up to 240 shifts per year. The new Unimat 09-2X-4x4/4S has already performed maintenance work during 100 shifts.

Intelligent drive for eco-friendly operation

A special feature of the Norwegian machine is its intelligent PlasserMotionDrive system. This system offers drive blending to provide the power needed during transfer mode under own power. The axle drives can be switched on or off at any time depending on the requirements. The machine starts with hydrostatic support. As the speed increases, its hydrodynamic drive takes over, showing its advantages. This improves acceleration and saves fuel. On lines with steep gradients, the machine activates the second driving bogie.

Infrakraft Sverige AB

is a new company, founded in 2019, that operates in one of the most expansive industries in Sweden: infrastructure. The team draws on many years of know-how and is endeavouring to become a key leader in the development of Swedish road and rail infrastructure.

Sweden: paint it black

Unlike the Norwegian machine, the Swedish design comprises three machine parts. Another significant difference is the exterior design concept. The Swedish machine is called “Black Beauty”. As the name suggests, the machine (except the front end) is completely painted in black, which is the dominant corporate colour of Infrakraft
Sverige AB, the operating company.

It is possible for the drive cabin to be part of the machine, as axle loads of up to 22.5 t are approved in Sweden. This is why the Swedish machine has three parts: a tamping section, a drive unit, and a sweeper trailer. At the end of summer 2020, all acceptance procedures were completed and the machine was delivered to Sweden.