Safety and energy consumption – in rail traffic, both are strongly dependent on the vehicle head. In order to optimise these aspects, Voith Turbo Scharfenberg will in future also build rail vehicle heads for passenger trains. They are developed and produced almost completely from fibre compounds (FVK). Due to their low weight, the new heads of the GALEA series reduce energy consumption and vehicle wear.

Within the GALEA development project, Voith Turbo Scharfenberg is producing two prototypes of FVK heads. They are designed for multiple units, railcars and control cars used in regional and intercity service with operating speeds of up to 200km/hr. The aim of the project is safe rail vehicle heads that can be mounted on and removed from car bodies with relative ease.

Vehicle heads from Voith Turbo Scharfenberg are built in compliance with the Crash Norm EN 15227, as well as in line with other requirements, for example ‘Fire Protection in Rail Vehicles’ referring to prEN 45545. As the front end is subjected to high operating loads and, in the event of a collision, even maximum loads, special structural and energy absorption elements have to be used. This ensures a higher level of passive safety for the train driver and the passengers: during a collision, the energy absorption takes place outside the survival space, and the vehicles are prevented from overriding by ‘anticlimbers’.

Fibre compound materials, primarily those made from glass-fibre reinforced plastics, are better at absorbing energies that are created during an impact. At the same time, this material also allows lightweight constructions. Complex geometries and free-forming surfaces, which are required by modern designs, would be virtually impossible without fibre-reinforced plastics. With FVK materials, aerodynamic external contours can be produced more easily and at lower cost.

Lightweight fibre compound plastics also have ecological advantages, for example fewer C02-emissions and lower energy consumption. The reduced weight results in higher energy efficiencies, lower wear and improved economy. In addition, the transport efficiency of the traffic systems increases, as more passengers can be moved.