Harsco Rail has been selected to develop and manufacture maintenance vehicles for the Swiss railway system’s entire network of overhead lines.

Harsco Rail Europe is increasing its influence in the railway market with an overhead line project started in 2014.

In the future, Harsco’s vehicles, built specifically for the maintenance of overhead rail lines, will be used across the entire Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) network. The so-called overhead catenary system vehicles are being finalised in close cooperation with the client SBB. The first of the 59 vehicles ordered are due to be delivered in 2019.

The vehicles are needed urgently as SBB’s live railway network currently covers 3,232km, and the network is 100% electrified. This means that there are thousands of kilometres of overhead lines throughout Switzerland.

The terrain in Switzerland is extremely varied. Maintaining and in some places renovating this network harbours significant challenges for SBB; the new technology behind the fleet of maintenance vehicles will make it possible to overcome them even more efficiently.

The railway vehicles manufactured specially for SBB will be used in 22 locations alongside the maintenance vehicles already in operation.

The modern locomotive is a so-called universal locomotive with the UIC vehicle number Xem 131. The universal diesel-electric locomotive is equipped with ETCS Baseline 3. All of the eleven locomotives are therefore versatile, as well as economical, and can run either on electricity only or on a mix of diesel and electricity.

The Xems are also equipped with a crane, including a man riding basket and a lifting platform mounted on the roof, as well as state-of-the-art contactless laser measurement technology.

The railway vehicles are based on a modular design that makes it easier to equip them for adaptability and allows future modifications.

Another important element of the fleet is a carrier wagon designed especially for this catenary system that is equipped with an engine, a cable reel holder and a capstan. SBB has ordered eight of these wagons with the official designation XTmas 232. New prestressed contact wires are installed with the aid of a capstan system.

The fleet is completed by a motorised carrier wagon with a crane that includes a man riding basket and a 30ft workshop unit (XTmas 236, of which SBB has ordered 28), and an engineless carrier wagon with a 50ft workshop unit that has its own independent electricity supply (Xas 383, of which SBB has ordered twelve).

Once again, Harsco Rail has shown that the company is in a league of its own when it comes to the development and manufacture of highly specialised railway vehicles. Both the successful European launch of their maintenance vehicles for the Gotthard Base Tunnel, as well as the supply of overhead line vehicles scheduled for 2019, categorically affirm Harsco’s increasingly important position in the European rail market.