MTU Friedrichshafen Wraps up Major Service Package for Rail Operator in Great Britain

Posted on May 04, 2007

MTU Friedrichshafen, a member of the Tognum group of companies, has concluded its biggest ever service contract for Series 4000 rail drive units with the British rail operator First Great Western.

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  • mtu services around 120 of the highly successful Series 4000 rail engines ensuring trouble-free engine operation over 10 years.
  • mtu Executive Vice President, Rainer Breidenbach: “Biggest service contract in the history of MTU Friedrichshafen”
  • Excellent life-cycle costs and outstanding reliability tipped the scales on the €100 million contract.
  • On-site service with spares and highly-qualified personnel.

MTU Friedrichshafen, a member of the Tognum group of companies, has concluded its biggest ever service contract for Series 4000 rail drive units with the British rail operator First Great Western. FGW provides passenger services in south and central England, operating 200kph diesel push-pull trainsets with power cars each fitted with one of the 1,680 kW engines. The “Class 43” High Speed Trains which connect London’s Paddington Station to destinations including Bristol and Swansea to the west and Plymouth and Penzance in the south-west, are popular for their punctuality and comfort. Now, after around 30 years of continuous service, the sets are being completely refurbished and re-engined. The trains are driven by two power cars, one at each end. By the end of 2007, a total of 117 power cars will have been refitted with one of the 16-cylinder mtu Series 4000 engines ordered by First Great Western as well as various rail leasing companies. The new mtu units will replace older Paxman engines.

Some of the major factors persuading the rail operator to award the €100 million contract to mtu were the engines’ low exhaust and noise emis-sions, their reliability and their low consumption coupled with excellent life-cycle costs. The High Speed Trains’ new drive systems thus satisfy the operators’ increasingly stringent economic requirements whilst also com-plying with the latest environmental standards valid in the international rail sector. A further vital consideration was also that the mtu engines can be simply integrated in the trains’ existing drive configuration – thanks, pri-marily, to the flexible, custom-tailored, adaptable engine electronics system MDEC (mtu Diesel Engine Control).

mtu Executive Vice President, Rainer Breidenbach: “Biggest service and maintenance contract in the history of MTU Friedrichshafen”

Over recent years, the demand by rail operators for all-encompassing maintenance services has grown continuously and mtu has been able to satisfy that demand extremely successfully with its comprehensive service packages: “This is the biggest service and maintenance contract in the history of MTU Friedrichshafen”, commented Rainer Breidenbach, Executive Vice President, MTU Friedrichshafen, on the scale of the agreement. “It takes us a further important step along our chosen strategic route which has seen us moving over the years from being purely a diesel engine manufacturer to a role as a supplier of complete drive solutions with service packages covering the entire life-span of our customers’ plant”, explained Mr Breidenbach.

The service contract for First Great Western is a comprehensive, blanket package: mtu guarantees engine operation for a period of ten years. The contract also guarantees that all necessary services will be available on site at all times – thus going much further than standard maintenance services which normally have a “within 24 hours” clause. In addition, experienced mtu service specialists are continuously on-call at the rail operator’s depot for service and repair work on the power cars.

Working in conjunction with the operator’s staff, mtu looks after all the engine maintenance stages through to major overhaul involving complete disassembly, inspection and renovation. mtu also maintains a stock of all spares required at the operator’s depots so that even unscheduled part replacements can be carried out in the fastest possible time.

For operators, the reliability of the drive system is paramount as the High Speed Trains have a punishing schedule to meet countrywide and enjoy great popularity with the traveling public - not the least of the reasons for this being their high punctuality rate and their solid dependability. The trains’ economic viability obviously also depends to a great extent on the continuous availability of its drive system.

Preventive maintenance concept avoids wear-related failures

“The operator and mtu agree that a preventive maintenance concept is the best formula for guaranteeing maximum engine availability” says Mat-thias Vogel, responsible for industrial engine sales at mtu. mtu has em-ployed the preventive maintenance concept for many years to guarantee the trouble-free operation of its engines across a range of applications and in this particular contract the preventive element is applied especially widely. “Preventive maintenance relies on advance provision instead of reaction ’after the event’. It means that the short periods of downtime re-quired can be planned and, in turn, that means that the vehicles can be operated particularly economically” explained Vogel.

Engine failure probability rate a fraction of one percent

Preventive maintenance enables the engines to operate right through to their next major overhaul virtually without wear-based downtime. mtu’s own benchmark is a failure probability rate of a maximum of one percent. The safety factors which mtu uses in calculating the failure probability rate of its engines are based on long years of experience in the field: the company has been conducting series of measurements on the wear characteristics and reliability of drive units since the beginning of the 1980s.

During the major overhaul process, simulations, computations, model tests and the inspection of every component relevant to performance have provided mtu experts with a wealth of reliable data on the wear characteristics of engine components. Data on particularly wear-prone components is recorded and analyzed on the basis of engine load and the analyses reflect values collected from field operation such as fuel quality and engine care. Collated and evaluated, this data enables mtu to formulate precise prognoses on the service life of its engines and components.

Apart from first-class service and maintenance, competitive performance is obviously also dependent on the outstanding basic quality of these rugged, reliable and economical Series 4000 engines. And here, the electronic engine management system developed and manufactured in-house by MTU Friedrichshafen plays a major role in ensuring long and economical engine life. As well as ensuring high-level performance, optimum consumption in every operating mode and low emissions, the system performs a whole series of control and monitoring functions which protect the engine against overload and provide all the data needed for service and maintenance purposes.