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Appenzeller Bahnen Orders A New RhW Vehicle


posted on 28th Sep 2022 09:04


On 27 September 2022 Appenzeller Bahnen (AB) and Stadler have signed a contract for delivery of a rack-and-pinion vehicle for the line from Rheineck (405 m above sea level) to Walzenhausen (672 m above sea level). 

The contract includes equipping the car with Stadler’s CBTC (Communication-Based Train Control) solution. The new train will become the world’s first fully automated overland adhesion/rack-and-pinion rail vehicle.

The RhW line with the 600 V DC catenary has a length of 1.96 km and a track gauge of 1,200 mm. There is used a Riggenbach rack and pinion system, maximum gradient is 250 ‰. The vehicle currently used, a car BDeh 1/2 built in 1958, has been in service for over 64 years and needs to be replaced due to its age. AB is ordering a new rack-and-pinion vehicle from Stadler which will be equipped for fully automated rail operation. 

This is the first time that Stadler will equip a mountain rail vehicle with its in-house CBTC. This will enable automated and driverless operation depending on the system level. Stadler is implementing the highest automation level 4 (GoA4), meaning that train operation can be fully automated and driverless. There are no longer any members of staff on board and all operations are automated. AB staff in the operations centre can intervene in train operations by remote control.

First Fully Automated Rack-And-Pinion Railway In Free-Field Conditions

Fully automated railways already exist in tunnels or on closed track systems where the risk of obstacles on the line can be safely excluded. This is the case for the Lausanne metro, for example. All over the world, dozens of railways are already operated as closed systems, where the track must be monitored to ensure that there are no obstacles. 

However, the new vehicle on the Rheineck - Walzenhausen line will be a fully automated train running as an open system in free-field conditions. The CBTC solution must therefore also take over the monitoring of the track and the detection of obstacles. The new train on the RhW line will be the world’s first fully automated overland adhesion/rack-and-pinion rail vehicle. Commissioning is scheduled for 2026.

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