STORY Rail

Baltic revival

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Dagmar Kötting, Images by Andzej Mickevic

Lithuanian Railways overhauls freight locomotives using mtu reman engines.

Each of the 44 mtu engines that had been powering Siemens Eurorunner locomotives in Lithuania for the last eight years had 24,000 hours of service on the clock. So it was time for a rejuvenation treatment – or, to put it another way, the mtu reman process. This involves restoring the engines to as-new condition. Remanufactured or 'reman' engines are as good as new ones but considerably less expensive and still come with the same warranty.

44 locomotives in Lithuanian Railways' locomotive fleet were remanufactured through mtu distributor Baltic Marine Group.

Economical and sustainable

In July 2013, Lithuanian Railways launched a joint project with Siemens, Baltic Marine Group and mtu to overhaul the 44 locomotives and engines. By September 2015, all of the engines, each of which had completed roughly 24,000 hours of service to date, had to be successively removed from the locomotives at the Vilnius depot and sent by truck to the mtu Reman Technology Centre in Magdeburg, mtu’s lead facility worldwide for standardized reman processes. The plant specializes in remanufacturing, i.e. standardized industrial reconditioning and complete overhaul of mtu engines. The advantage of reman engines is that they cost less than new units but have the same warranty. What is more, in the course of the complete overhaul, each engine benefits from all technical upgrades so that clients can be certain they are receiving a product with the very latest technical advances. In Magdeburg, the incoming engines are made fit and ready for a new life. The first part of the process is to completely dismantle and examine them. Wear parts and elastomer or defective components are replaced, but the majority of the engine parts such as cylinder heads, crankshafts or the crankcase are reconditioned – which is a sustainable process because no raw materials have to be used to produce new components. After successfully completing a bench test, the engines are also repainted, which means they not only meet the same specifications as an equivalent model just off the production line, they also look brand new. Just like the reman unit in locomotive number ER 20032. The Eurorunner’s 2,000 kW traction unit shines brightly in its freshly applied blue livery and is once again fully prepared for service on Lithuanian freight routes.

Out of the locomotive and onto the wooden pallet inside two minutes

In the locomotive shed in Vilnius, Arunas Žekas and Giedrius Pranckunas of the Baltic Marine Group service team are in the process of lifting the old engine out of ER 20016. Giedrius Pranckunas moves the big yellow overhead gantry crane over the locomotive by remote control. By the time it is in position, his colleague Arunas Žekas has attached heavy lifting chains to the engine block. Within a few moments, the heavyweight is hanging from the hook and being carefully lifted out of the locomotive. The fact that it seems to sway quite considerably in the process does not worry the experienced mechanics – apparently that is quite normal. Finally the engine is hovering just an arm’s width over the wooden shipping pallet. From start to finish the operation has hardly taken two minutes. Now some high-precision manoeuvring is required to position the steel colossus on the four bolts of the wooden base. "That’s no problem," smiles Arunas Žekas. "After 30 engines, it’s just a routine operation for us." The two mechanics rock the engine a little and very soon it has seated itself satisfactorily. Arunas Žekas grabs a large spanner and tightens the nuts onto the bolts.

“The engines are in good hands"

The reman project in Lithuania took two years to complete, and Naglis Vyšniauskas is more than satisfied: "We not only have a partnership, we also have a really close collaborative relationship with mtu and Baltic Marine Group. In these two companies we have partners we can rely on." Naglis Vyšniauskas saw that trust vindicated when mtu invited its partners to the Reman Technology Centre in Magdeburg. "I was glad to see that our engines are in good hands. The plant there has high-tech equipment of the very best quality. And in our discussions I also found out how the mtu experts assess the condition of our engines after such a long period of duty. The positive feedback from mtu about the condition of our engines and, therefore, the standard of work of our maintenance staff gave me a very good feeling."

The content of the stories reflects the status as of the respective date of publication. They are not updated. Further developments are therefore not taken into account.

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Hermann Schirmer
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