Some 45,000 passengers will in future be able to travel the 31 miles between Randolph-Street Station and University Park in Chicago in new “Highliner Cars”. As part of a modernization project, Metra Chicago is replacing a total of 165 of its obsolete Highliner Cars. For the first new vehicles, Voith Turbo will be supplying 116 final drives type SE-377.

26 double-decker trains or “Highliner Cars” will be in service by the end of 2006. “We more than fulfill the Buy America provisions,” says sales engineer Michael Klug. These provisions stipulate that 60% of all parts must be manufactured in the USA. In the actual case of the 116 SE-377 final drives, the Voith subsidiary in York, PA will purchase the greater wheels, the bearings, the labyrinths and the gear couplings from qualified American sub-contractors. The housing and the pinions originate from Germany. Voith Turbo in York will then carry out the final assembly and series tests of the drives.

Local content, good service in the USA and technical competency were, according to Klug, the decisive criteria of the Japanese vehicle manufacturer Nippon Sharyo and the engine manufacturer Toshiba, to give preference to Voith. The dimensions of the drive installation space was a predefined. Voith also had to create an interface between the axle shaft and the bogie, as well as a separate design for the couplings. “All of the customer’s requirements were met. In the end, our engineering services, as well as the compact and robust design of our drives convinced the vehicle manufacturer,” says Klug. The robustness is ensured by a single housing; an oil sump which is not situated in the gap of the unit, as well as the utilization of proven labyrinths make sure that there are no oil leaks.

The first vehicles with the new Voith final drives have been in service in Chicago since the beginning of 2005. Michael Klug: “For us, these are the first final drives for standard-gauge railways by which Voith Turbo recommends itself for further Highliner Cars and other trains in the USA.”