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Full Turnout Service With URM 700-2

updated on 8th Sep 2020 16:40 posted on 19th Aug 2020 16:01

Most contracting companies do not offer special services such as an on-track turnout maintenance system. Plasser & Theurer has taken full turnout service to a new level, and ÖBB has been able to use this technology.

Turnouts place particular demands on maintenance. Due to their key function in the track system, they are considered essential infrastructure components. Turnout installations on modern high-capacity lines consist of concrete sleepers, sensitive drive and control systems and heavy rail profiles. When maintaining turnouts, these expensive components must be handled with utmost precision. Cost-efficiency is the goal - not only when maintaining plain track, but even more so when maintaining turnouts which affects two tracks at the same time. The duration of track closures is a key factor, particularly for main lines.

The URM 700-2 offers decisive advantages when managing tight schedules for turnout maintenance. There is no need to remove and reinstall the turnout. Both ballast cleaning and tamping in turnouts can be completed during one single shift. As soon as the work has been completed, the track section can be reopened for traffic. For this reason, ÖBB have opted for employing this system on their trunk routes. During maintenance with the URM 700-2, the adjacent track remains open for traffic which reduces track possessions to a minimum. This is impossible when employing conventional methods involving excavators and cranes.

The URM 700-2 ballast cleaning machine is the core technology for turnout maintenance. This machine makes it possible to clean the ballast bed without removing the turnout. Moreover, it allows for continuous working progress. In addition, it cleans the ballast shoulders. The machine is also suited for maintaining large high-speed turnouts with movable-point frog. Another advantage is that sections of track at connecting tracks and between turnouts can be cleaned in one pass.

Thanks to the fast and independent installation and removal of the excavating unit, the URM 700-2 works cost-efficiently on short sections of track, with short set-up times, with no need to cut the rails and without full track closures. This is exactly what railways require: fast, safe and high-quality ballast cleaning in turnouts without long track possessions. 

After the URM 700-2 has completed its work, Plasser & Theurer’s all-rounder for track maintenance enters the picture to ensure optimal geometrical quality of the turnouts. The Unimat 09475/4S N-Dynamic turnout and track maintenance machine combines the functions of three machines: three-rail lifting and four-rail tamping, profiling, stabilising and control measuring. A unique feature makes the Unimat 09-475/4S N-Dynamic stand out: it can also ballast the tamping zones. Full turnout service including the ballasting step can be performed within a single track possession. Traffic on the adjacent track continues without interruption which minimises operational hindrances.

Following a discuss with Plasser & Theurer we can specify that the URM 700-2 machine was built in 2012 and subsequently further developed and tested on the ÖBB network, where it cleaned or exchanged the ballast in 36 turnouts and connecting tracks. The most diverse turnout designs and cross-overs were maintained in short track possessions. Based on the considerable experiences gained, the machine was redesigned after its final work site operations. 

The test operation was performed by Franz Plasser, a subsidiary of Plasser & Theurer. Since May 2020, the URM 700-2 machine is offered to clients by Franz Plasser. At present it is working at the Westbahn main line in Austria. Plasser & Theurer is ready to build further machines, but this is up to the demand of infrastructure companies and their feedback.