Linz, Austria — Named affectionately for the wife of company owner Wolfgang Zappel, ‘Martina’ was the first triple-axle Type D60 C marshaling locomotive produced by Gmeinder. On each trip, the 10.76-meter-long, red and gray locomotive hauls loads up to 3,000 tonnes. “We need locomotives that are shorter than standard locomotives so they can operate near the blast furnaces where space is really restricted,” explained Mario Pointner who heads plant rail operations at LogServ. In addition to space restrictions, the locomotives also have to deal with gradients up to 20‰. The four type D60 C Gmeinder units are currently in service in different areas of the Log- Serv-run voestalpine plant rail system which is Austria’s biggest industrial sidings complex. Their task is to shift both full and empty freight cars between the various loading and unloading points. All four locomotives bear the LogServ corporate design livery. “On LogServ locomotives, just the driver’s cab and a few other areas are outlined in red. The rest is finished in gray. The distinctive red-gray design also makes it easier to distinguish them from the red locomotives in service with Austrian Federal Rail,” said Dietmar Schall, head of design and development at Gmeinder Locomotives.
A perfectly ordinary day
The voestalpine plant operates four shifts every day of the year. Each of the four Gmeinder marshaling locomotives is powered by a single MTU Type 12V 1600 R50 engine delivering 690 kW of power. “Our engines at the voestalpine facility are in continuous operation,” said Daniel Moosherr from MTU’s Rail Sales section. “That means they can log up as many as 7,000 hours of service every year.”
Before the start of every shift the engine driver and shunter who make up each operative team are allocated to a locomotive. They then work through the individual orders in turn. The biggest challenge for the marshaling teams is having to work in the open whatever the weather, in fog and in darkness. They get their orders via a PC in the driver’s cab which tells them exactly how many freight cars need to be shifted to which locations. The PC also shows how many cars are loaded and how many are empty. Today, most of the locomotives in the plant’s rail complex are crewed only by a driver working with a remotecontrol system. He also carries out tasks like coupling, uncoupling and points switching which were traditionally performed by the shunter. Remote-control drivers are also shunting supervisors and they take on the role of ‘lead shunter’, acting as look-out when the locomotive is pushing the train from behind. Today, shunters are only assigned to locomotives that frequently perform marshaling tasks. These units have a remote-control driver and a shunter who carry out all their duties as a team. The system means that up to 265,000 freight cars can be shifted every year at the voestalpine facility — up to 730 cars in every 24-hour slot.
Powerful engines make all the difference
“In our work, the engines are vital because they have to cope with constantly alternating loads and extreme runtimes,” explained Mario Pointner. MTU’s Series 1600 engines were developed precisely for these tasks and are therefore ideal for marshaling locomotives. In addition, they also meet EU Stage IIIB emissions specifications.
Future plans for the facility involve the procurement of more Gmeinder locomotives which will be earmarked for operation in other sections of the plant as well as in Dispatch.
A town within a city
The voestalpine facility is like a small town in the middle of the city of Linz. It operates a total of 160 kilometers of track — as much as exists in the whole of the country’s Vorarlberg region. In all, it includes 600 different loading stations which help to ensure that the plant’s 11,000-strong workforce is able to produce and shift 5.8 million tonnes of raw steel every year. The complex contains multiple-track sections, traffic lights and plant entrances with separate barriers resembling toll stations for road and rail traffic.
The D60 C locomotives operate throughout the entire rail network at the plant. For example, they transport steel to and from the ‘dock terminal’ where trucks and ships are loaded and unloaded alongside the trains. The terminal even has a special-purpose indoor hall where freight vessels can berth to shift cargo. The unit also offers a warehousing facility for steel coils and sheets in various dimensions.
The voestalpine rail complex interfaces with the public rail network at three points: one goes to Salzburg, one to Vienna and one connects with the Austrian Federal Rail marshaling yards. As a result, the loaded freight cars always have direct access to whatever destination is planned. And underpinning the whole system are MTU’s Series 1600 engines and the marshaling locomotives from Gmeinder which play their part in ensuring that voestalpine products reach the company’s customers throughout the world.