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Railway paradise Austria

A new green maintenance fleet for ÖBB

The largest single order in our company’s history: Plasser & Theurer will supply a highly modern fleet of maintenance vehicles to the infrastructure undertaking in the European Union’s most rail-friendly country. The ÖBB Infrastruktur fleet has entered a new era, and there are three pillars underlying it: a hybrid E³ drive concept for emission-free working on-site, improved ergonomic design, and modular design.

Plasser & Theurer’s largest single order: 56 vehicles for ÖBB. The types of vehicle in the fleet have gone down from 12 to 3.

Austria is the EU’s number one country for rail services: punctuality and passenger satisfaction are at their highest level, and more people travel by rail in Austria than anywhere else in the EU. This was made possible thanks to the federal government’s investments in railway infrastructure amounting to more than three billion euros per year. The country has committed to continuing its investments in its rail network in the years to come.

It’s not only important for us to optimise the cost effectiveness and efficiency of our fleet. We’re also expanding functionality and flexibility despite the reduction in types of vehicles.

Christian Adamiczek
Manager at ÖBB Rail Equipment

To ensure seamless rail services on new lines, ÖBB-Infrastruktur is renewing its entire maintenance vehicle fleet. In addition to ensuring maintenance on new lines and complex tunnel sections, ÖBB-Infrastruktur prioritises expanded functionality along with increased cost efficiency and sustainability. Plasser & Theurer came out on top in the EU-wide call for tenders. The company will supply 56 vehicles to ÖBB-Infrastruktur, with a purchase option available for an additional 46. It is the largest single order in the almost 70-year history of Plasser & Theurer, and it is the dawn of a new era in railbound maintenance vehicles.

The vehicles were optimised in line with ÖBB-Infrastruktur’s wishes and experiences using the modular design system.

Modular standards, individual configurations

In the past, machines were treated as one-of-a-kind items in planning and production. Thanks to ModularCustomizing, important processes that are part of production, approvals, and maintenance will be simplified and standardised. It provides ÖBB Infra­struktur with several more advantages in addition to maximum flexibility and being able to adapt machines to its needs.

For example, a standard carrier vehicle will be equipped with individual mounted structures (modules); this reduces the costs of spare parts and maintenance significantly. Plasser & Theurer will supply three types of vehicles. ÖBB Infrastruktur will have a high- performance maintenance vehicle fleet, with three types of vehicles instead of 12, based on a uniform operating concept. This simplifies maintenance and reduces the costs of training and staff.

The modules themselves align with ÖBB Infra­struktur’s experiences and work sequences, with special attention paid to the maximum use of space.

Hybrid drive with power from the overhead contact line, battery-operated for the worksite

Rail is the most environmentally friendly form of transport, and maintenance vehicles also have to live up to that standard. Operating with power from the overhead contact line, the new drive concept enables fully electrified driving at speeds of up to 120 km/h. However, when there are disruptions or new structures, power from the overhead contact line may not be available.

That is why the vehicles are equipped with powerful batteries: they ensure power is available for maintenance of the entire network. It is possible to fall back on a diesel-electric power pack as a precaution against blackouts and in an emergency. E-fuel can be used to operate it in a carbon-neutral way. The highest flexibility is ensured through the option to switch between the overhead contact line, battery, and diesel-electric power pack without interruption.

Back in 2017, Plasser & Theurer presented the first battery-powered vehicle for overhead contact line installation and maintenance at the International Exhibition for Track Technology in Münster. Since then, more experience has been gained and the technology has been optimised: the battery used for worksite operation can supply enough energy for an entire shift. It is charged via the overhead contact line (pantograph), the diesel-electric power pack, or recuperation while driving.

Low emissions and reduced noise during operation protect the environment and make working conditions on and around the vehicle noticeably better. This is also a major advantage for lineside residents.

Plasser & Theurer’s E³ drive concept significantly reduces diesel consumption and CO₂ emissions.

The new Plasser & Theurer vehicles offer our staff optimised working conditions that benefit their health and safety in addition to other improvements

Jakob Raffel
Vehicle Operation Manager at ÖBB-Infrastruktur

Maximum customer benefits thanks to consistent, continuous development

In addition to regular assembly and maintenance work, the new vehicle fleet will be used for overhead contact lines, particularly when there are disturbances. Technical defects and storms are a real challenge for infrastructure managers. The ability to return operations to normal quickly and efficiently is crucial.

40 years of expertise in contact line installation

ÖBB has been counting on Plasser & Theurer maintenance machines since the 1980s. Both partners have decades of experience which went into developing and configuring the new vehicles. It was important to involve the employees, engineers, and technicians who work with these machines every day in creating the requirements specification for the new fleet. That made it possible to optimise work sequences and massively improve occupational safety and ergonomic design while reducing the number of vehicle types.

This consistent, continuous development is not only limited to the drive and the modular design system. A bogie with secondary suspension will be installed to increase comfort and stability while working. In addition, the vehicles will feature well-proven cranes and elevating work platforms with a high reach and powerful lifting capacity. This simplifies and optimises assembly and maintenance.

With the new green fleet, ÖBB Infrastruktur and Plasser & Theurer are taking a strong stance for the future: emission-free, efficient, and high-capacity operation of rail infrastructure.