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Regenerative rail maintenance for light rail systems

2021-04-21 | 

Wear and damage continuously impair the service life of rail in light rail systems. It is therefore necessary to counteract these effects with customized maintenance measures in order to avoid premature rail replacement. Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft mbH (AVG) already relies on the mobile rail milling service of voestalpine Railway Systems.

The service life of rails is determined by the interaction of several factors of the wheel-rail system. To increase the service life, various maintenance strategies can be employed

Regenerative rail maintenance

With regenerative rail maintenance, all surface damage is completely eliminated, and the target profile of the rail is fully restored. This regeneration is achieved regardless of the initial rail damage condition and is the basis for a successful cyclic-preventive maintenance strategy. In contrast to corrective maintenance, where a 100% restoration is usually not possible, the regenerative maintenance approach is unique.

Mobile rail milling with MG11

In order to apply customized maintenance strategies, voestalpine Track Solutions Germany GmbH, a company of the voestalpine Railway Systems Group, acquired the latest generation of the MG11 mobile rail milling machine 2020. This high-performance milling machine enables variable material removal between 0.1 mm and 1.2 mm in one pass, making it also suitable for use in all other common maintenance strategies in addition to regenerative maintenance.

Success Story Karlsruhe/Germany

The Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft mbH operates a network of bus and light rail lines in Karlsruhe and Heilbronn, Germany.

Like any light rail system, AVG is confronted with rail degradation, such as plastic deformation, rail wear, the formation of RCF defects as well as corrugation (periodic wear effects on the running surface of the rails in curves).

To avoid premature rail replacement and to enable a "restart" of the rail life, AVG decided to apply the concept of regenerative maintenance. With the help of a unique logistics concept, it was possible to efficiently restore about 20 km of track within only two weeks.

Straight track as well as narrow curves with radii < 100 could be continuously machined.

Due to the high performance milling technology, it is usually possible to restore (regenerate) the target profile in only one pass. In addition, it is also possible to completely remove surface defects. Depending on the damage depth, however, multiple passes might be necessary. The milling process with an integrated grinding unit generates a surface quality with low roughness that significantly exceeds the requirements of the EN 13231 standard.

As a systems supplier it is important for voestalpine Railway Systems to provide optimum customer support throughout the entire life cycle of the track. The MG11 thus provides customers with a versatile, efficient and environmentally friendly tool that can be used to sustainably extend the rail life cycle in track and turnouts.