From the workshop
Test, test: Final spurt for new railcars
They stand there completely unobtrusively in two sidings. These are the first four-unit railcars of the ALLEGRA generation which are being put through their paces here. Specialists from Stadler Rail and RhB are working flat out – shortly before the first passenger trips take place. An inspection with André Bieri.
As we stride to platforms 10a and 10b at Landquart station I ask him whether he has any concerns about industrial espionage taking place here. „No, not at all. After all what we are doing here is well known. RhB is bringing the latest generation of its push-pull trains onto the rails. Customers and competitors ought to be able to see it. From outside at least.“ That says it all. Under the surface the preparations are fizzing and bubbling. Literally.
Wires and sensors are hanging everywhere
The final air-conditioning tests are taking place at present. A black wire with a temperature sensor is dangling from the ceiling here. One is hanging on the wall panelling over there, temporarily fixed with masking tape. Cool air flows from the ceiling, at least it does where it can escape outwards through the ceiling which is interspersed with fine holes. A number of air holes are sealed with blue masking tape. Why? Because the technicians are painstakingly testing for the best distribution of air flow, a mixture of fresh air and circulating air. In other words the pleasant wind must not blow round the passengers’ ears too much. At the same time they shouldn’t be forced to sweat if the soothing coolness does not reach them. The task becomes even more difficult because heating is also part of the equation for RhB. „Minus 10 or minus 20 degrees is par for the course in Graubünden. A control system must be able to handle this“, Project Manager André Bieri explains. The ultimate climate goal is to create as few fluctuations as possible. This requires a good level of perception for millimetres and centigrade. The ceiling panels will be removed as soon as the results are known and then appropriately sealed and refitted. The same applies for the sensors. They must perform to an optimum once positioned precisely. Nothing is left to chance.
«With three-unit trains we could collate significant experiences.»André Bieri, Projektleiter
Processing line by line
The list of open issues attached to the windows in the temporary office in the first-class compartment is still long. Everything is noted there from the trifling to the fundamental, from the window blind which sticks, right up to the compartment door which needs replacing because it rattles too much when the train goes round a bend. „We want to get even better here. The travel noises are sometimes unmistakeable, even with ultramodern train designs, depending on the radius“, André Bieri explains. The technicians from the manufacturer Stadler Rail and the operator RhB are tweaking away until they find the best solution. The new chassis have just been delivered and the new axles are ready and waiting. In future these will be designed in such a way that a sound suppressor is pressed onto the wheel disc. The tests are already underway.
Every passenger counts
The planners have also learned in other ways. Three passenger counters have thus discreetly been fitted by each door. A sophisticated infrared system records how many passengers join the train or leave it. The additional counting device between first and second class enables RhB to see how the passengers are distributed into which classes on which routes on a daily basis. It is also necessary to test the spatial conditions in the train systematically. Without people for once and this time using sandbags. Each one represents one passenger. „The sandbags also help us to evaluate the braking performance. As we use air brakes we must be able to assess whether one compressor per unit is sufficient or whether several are necessary“, the Project Manager tells us. The projections are not straightforward as the new railcars have one carriage more than their predecessors. The RhB specialists are working meticulously right up to the last minute.
They can hardly be stopped. The clock is ticking. In 2013 the five four-unit
main-network railcars will be following a timetable.