Some 134 Voith Turbo cooling systems have been in service in the British class 43 HST high-speed trains for several years. Up to 15,000 operating hours per vehicle are quite common. Following the intercity express programme (IEP) launched by the British Department for Transport, these trains will now be replaced. Voith was among the bidders for the delivery of the cooling systems.

Jürgen Knigge, Voith sales manager for cooling systems, said: “We feel well–equipped for the British rail market.”

He said Voith had an extensive knowledge of the UK rail market. When the cooling systems of the previous HST vehicles were specified, Voith had been successful not least because the customers invariably regarded them as the best available technology (BAT).

Superior technical solutions are also required for the 400 powercars of the five and eight-car trains to be built within the IEP. The new trains will be using purely electric and diesel-electric technology. Some operators want to run their multiple train units completely flexibly from 2013 (the year stated in the IEP schedule in which the first trains will enter service).

For this reason multiple-drive systems are being planned, which means a train with two powercars will have one with an electric drive, while the second powercar will be driven by diesel-electrics.

The project team around Mr Knigge has not been discouraged by this prospect. Mr Knigge said: “Voith has already successfully implemented the cooling of such a hybrid structure, not in a multiple unit but in a single railcar.” Mr Knigge was referring to the DEE mainline locomotive Bitrac 3600, which will shortly be put into service by Spanish manufacturer CAF.

The special feature of this vehicle is its drive concept. Apart from two 1,800kW diesel engines, traction is provided by a further 4,450kW electric motor. Voith has developed a combined cooling system for this powerhouse among rail vehicles.

Mr Knigge said: “We would like to incorporate this know-how into the hybrid concept of the Intercity Express Programme in the UK.”