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Restoring Speed and Reliability of ICE 3 Trains

Friday, August 03, 2007 by Voith Turbo

High-speed trains enjoy enormous popularity throughout Europe. The ICE 3 trains of DB German Railways have been strongly frequented – and not only since the opening of the high-speed route from Paris to Stuttgart or Frankfurt.

The trains are fitted with Scharfenberg couplers type ten and Voith SE-380 final drives. The average mileage of the drives is 2.5 million kilometers, after which the entire train unit is due for a major overhaul. Thanks to a logistic masterstroke of the Voith Rail Service Center, the drives are reinstalled into the trains in no time, allowing fast resumption of regular service.

The ICE 3 trains have been driving across Germany, to Austria and Switzerland and – lately – also to neighboring France at speeds of up to 320 km/h since March 1998. The installed final drives are currently undergoing successive major overhauls. At Voith's own Rail Service Center, the drives are completely dismantled, cleaned, checked and assessed and then reassembled. After a function test, they receive a fresh coat of paint and are then ready for another five years of high-speed service.

During this major overhaul, all wearing parts, seals and roller bearings are exchanged. And this is where Voith gives a master class in logistics. Roller bearings and other parts prone to wear often have delivery times of up to 18 months. Yet Voith Turbo can ensure that the final drives are overhauled within 10 working days after arriving at the workshop, fitted with new roller bearings, seals and wearing parts, and returned to the DB plant in Krefeld for reinstallation into the ICE 3 trains.

As a backbone for the major overhaul campaign, Voith Turbo set up a special project team to continuously monitor and control the progress of parts procurement and production. "Thanks to the outstanding commitment and flexibility of the employees of the Service Center, we are in a position to complete between four and twelve drives per week," states Sales Manager Thomas Sautter, who is justifiably proud of the performance of the Service Center team.

Krefeld is the key depot for all ICE trains of DB German Railways, where the highly individual and flexible service performance of Voith has not gone unnoticed. This satisfaction is also the reason for a general agreement between DB German Railways and Voith. In line with this agreement, as many as 350 drives and suspensions have already been overhauled in the Service Center over the last 12 months; another 130 are due to be completed by spring 2008.