At this year’s Innotrans (September 19 - 22, 2006), ContiTech Air Spring Systems is presenting the GIGABOX, a unique system for rail freight cars. The system, which consists of a wheelset bearing and a hydraulic spring, was recently nominated for the HERMES AWARD. This places the bearing suspension among the five major technological innovations for 2006. Two years ago ContiTech presented an initial study at Innotrans 2004. Now a first field test has measured up to expectations and corroborated calculations previously carried out.
The new bearing-suspension concept for rail vehicles, with integrated rubber spring with hydraulic damping, does what conventional systems cannot do: it reduces noise and pollution while upping safety at higher travelling speeds. Jointly developed by ContiTech Air Spring Systems, Hanover and the SKF Group, Göteborg, the system has far fewer components than existing suspension systems. The wearing parts were replaced by rubber guides. The hydraulic damper adjusts automatically to the respective amplitude and does not experience any operational wear and tear. Service intervals of ten years, or one million kilometers, are thus possible. The GIGABOX also delivers convincingly low life-cycle costs.
The GIGABOX provides for better freight car service behaviour, so there is less wear and tear throughout the system (wheels, bogies, superstructure and roadbed - tracks, ties and track ballast). What is more, it greatly reduces operational vibration. The hydraulic springs isolate the vibrations generated when the wheel makes contact with the rail. This makes it easy for freight cars to measure up to future standards and limits, especially as regards noise buildup and wear and tear on the rails. Enhanced running smoothness is also of benefit to the cargo being transported. Wheels screech less when negotiating curves, so residents close to train lines have less noise to cope with.
The integrated rubber spring also functions as a wheel control for a wider margin of safety at high speeds. Freight cars currently operate at speeds of between 80km/h and 120km/h. The GIGABOX system allows for even higher speeds, however. An initial field test has confirmed both expectations and calculations already carried out. The GIGABOX is also compatible with standard freight car (Y25) bogies, so installing it in place of current suspension systems presents no problem.