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Railway lines open for traffic immediately after track rehabilitation

A machine that combines track renewal and ballast bed cleaning saves time and costs.

The RU 800 S is the first machine to combine these stages of work. In operation countless times since 2006, it has demonstrated the potential of this combination. The new RUS 1000 S has taken this successful concept to the next level of performance, shaping the future of track maintenance. Like its predecessor, it is the result of a partnership between Plasser & Theurer and Swietelsky. As the operator, the construction company played an active role in designing the machine as part of the project.

Track renewal and cleaning in one pass with only one machine

These maintenance works normally take place in two separate steps. A ballast cleaning machine cleans the ballast, and then a track relaying train renews the track. In the past, two weekend track possessions were often reserved to complete this job.

With the RUS 1000 S, we combine two separate tasks, track renewal and ballast bed cleaning, into one machine. Incorporating two stages of work into a single process offers a major advantage: fewer operational hindrances as a result of simplified worksite logistics. Thanks to the RUS 1000 S, less time is required for any track possessions. Plus, it can exchange and rehabilitate more kilometres of rail while the duration of the possession remains the same. Another typical approach is to work in cycles during overnight track possessions. During the day, the tracks are open for passenger traffic. The RUS 1000 S is the ideal machine for this approach: trains can immediately travel on the rehabilitated track at speeds of up to 60 km/h.

Individual Design for your individualised machine

When it comes to complex high-capacity machines, the requirements of machine operating companies do vary. Country-specific criteria and individual needs are equally important. We satisfy your special requirements with Individual Design machines. This means we design and manufacture machines tailored to you. In particular, your experiences in daily operation shape the final product.

Two-step ballast excavation

The main excavating chain removes the material in the sleeper area. It works in the construction gap, in the spot where the old sleepers have already been removed and the new ones have not yet been laid. Subsequently, two shoulder excavating units remove the material outside the sleeper area. This two-step process translates into one great benefit – a narrow excavating chain that protrudes less.

As a result, the RUS 1000 S or RU 800 S can work without interruption in narrow sections, such as near bridges or in station platform areas. Other machine systems need to perform another step first: slew the track so there is sufficient space between it and any fixed structures. Additionally, it is possible to settle the newly laid track into a lowered, corrected position.

The RU 800 S demonstrated the cost-efficiency of this concept during many jobs

The RU 800 S has been in operation in Europe for over 14 years, demonstrating great success and reliability. The number of jobs attest to a growing interest in this technology: the RU 800 S operated on tracks in ten European countries (Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Austria). It has renewed and cleaned approximately 2,000 km of track to date. In the past few years, it worked on 140 to 150 km of track on average. In most cases, these distances consisted of several small sections of track under repair. During these jobs, the machine achieved impressive peak outputs: in Sweden, for example, where 2,200 m of track were completed in ten hours. These types of worksites place high demands on material logistics.

Where innovation and proven technology meet: the RUS 1000 S

The concept behind the RUS 1000 S is based on the RU 800 S, a machine that combines track renewal and ballast bed cleaning. The knowledge and experience gained from daily operation shaped the new machine’s work technology. Plasser & Theurer, Swietelsky, and Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) successfully developed the machine together. After some final adjustments, this partnership has now put the RUS 1000 S into regular operation.

Calibrating the work units individually and as part of a larger whole was a very complex, time-consuming task. However, after just a few kilometres we could tell that the machine was going to meet our requirements. During our training, we managed to renew 1,200 metres in one shift.

Matthias Schauer
Head of Railway Maintenance Machine Construction, Swietelsky AG

Wider range of use

In summary, these adjustments optimised the work units and increased overall output. Like its predecessor, the new machine follows a logical and technologically correct operation sequence: it cleans the ballast before laying the new sleepers. Plus, the RUS 1000 S can handle minimum working radii of 250 m, which it did during a job in the Arlberg mountain range in Austria. Its drive power is higher: the RUS 1000 S can effortlessly travel along tracks with a 30 ‰ gradient. Its structure gauge was designed in accordance with the UIC 505-G1 clearance gauge to make it ideal for use throughout Europe. The machine is also greener, with CO2 emissions reduced by up to 30 % as well as noise reduction.

Increased quality and performance

A new screening unit achieves a greater output per metre while retaining an optimal granulation size. The machine is also able to lay more sleepers. The laying unit now has a laying cycle of 10 sleepers per minute. It can also process various types of sleepers (mono-block concrete, bi-block concrete, wooden sleepers).

The RUS 1000 S strengthens the ballast bed’s layered structure. Some of the cleaned ballast is immediately sent to the area behind the excavating chain and pre-consolidated. This provides a stable ballast formation for laying new sleepers. Once the new sleepers and new rails have been laid and connected, another load of cleaned ballast is transported to the shoulder excavating and tamping module to lay a new layer.

Travel on the track immediately

The next step is to lift, line, and tamp the track. The tamping system consists of a lifting and lining unit as well as a tamping unit. This is completely new for this machine model. The first tamping cycle (normally there are three) is integrated into the track renewal machine. This means that already after this one pass, the RUS 1000 S provides high-quality track geometry for when rail traffic resumes.

The route to regular operation

After final assembly in the spring of 2019, that summer the RUS 1000 S worked on its first test worksites in the Wachau Valley and near the city of Dornbirn in the federal state of Vorarlberg. In the autumn, it worked in the Arlberg region. The machine was used for a Wiener Lokalbahnen worksite near Traiskirchen in December 2019. These jobs were used to further optimise the machine and to train operating crews, with the goal of achieving target values with the machine’s output. Up to 40 crew members – during regular operation the crew is smaller – used the new machine for training, simulating realistic conditions during daily operation.

In the spring of 2020, the RUS 1000 S worked on a double-track line with concrete sleepers near Frohnleiten, in southeastern Austria. This on-site experience helped to further improve the machine’s output, and the ALC automatic guiding computer became fully operational. The digital DRP (data recording processor) records the tamping parameters and track geometry. This means the machine already documents track quality and helps to assess whether the line can reopen for traffic.

A rehabilitation job in Hungary, involving 8,800 m of track, presented the first opportunity to test the new RUS 1000 S during seven days of full operation. The staff confirmed the machine reached its target output of laying ten sleepers per minute. The corrected track geometry was excellent. The crew and the machine were in sync during the job, even achieving a top performance: 1,600 m of track in ten hours. This means the new machine is now ready for regular operation.

The advantages of a narrow excavating width

  • No preparatory work required on the track, e.g. slewing the rails near station platforms, before the machine arrives
  • Uninterrupted operation without machine conversion, even in confined spaces, such as station platform areas, concrete semi-through bridges, drainage systems, or in tunnels
  • Adjustable ballast excavating width of 3,000 to 5,800 mm by combining the excavating chain with the shoulder scoops