- The authorization issued by AESF allows container wagons and car transporters fitted with the system to run commercial services.
- The implementation of the variable gauge axle is a major global milestone in railway innovation. As the axles automatically adapt their width as they go over the gauge changer, freight trains are able to cross borders with different track gauges for the first time ever.
Azvi, Tria and Adif, the three companies who developed the variable gauge axle system for freight wagons (OGI), have received authorization for commissioning from the Spanish Railway Safety Agency (AESF). More specifically, AESF has authorized MMC3 container wagons and LTF car transporters fitted with the variable gauge OGI system to run commercial services.
The homologation of the variable gauge axle system is a milestone in railway innovation. The system solves the problem of different gauge tracks in the same network, which significantly hampers freight transport. A freight train fitted with this type of variable gauge axle can cross existing borders with different track gauges due to the automatic gauge change. As a result, breaks of gauge points are eliminated and consequently journey times are improved, and the costs associated with axle changes and load transfers between wagons reduced.
The homologation of the system comes after laboratory tests with loads of up to 38 tonnes per axle, and test runs in which 500 changes between Iberian gauge (1668mm) and International gauge (1435mm) were carried out. The system has also successfully undergone two phases of mainline dynamic testing. The first phase saw 50000km of dynamic testing on Iberian gauge track completed. During the second phase, 50000km of testing on both conventional and international gauge track were carried out with maximum load and at maximum speed permitted. After successfully completing both of these initial phases, the axles received authorization for commissioning in line with current technical specifications (EHT). The third and final phase is being carried out over an additional 150000km of both track gauges at maximum permitted load and speed, with the trains able to run as commercial services.
With the approval of the new Technical Specifications for Wagon Interoperability (ETI) due in June 2019, the variable gauge freight axle can be certified as an interoperability component at European level.
The OGI system uses two types of axle, depending on wheel diameter:
- Variable axle for 920mm diameter wheels. Runs at speeds of 120km/h, bears a maximum load of 22.5 tonnes and is compatible with current and previously manufactured Y21 and Y25 bogies. This axle can also be used with axle wagons.
- Variable axle for 760mm diameter wheels. Runs at speeds of 120km/h, bears a maximum load of 16 tonnes and can be used in wagons with this diameter wheel (bogies with this type of axle do not exist). This type of wagon is typically a car transporter.
The third phase of dynamic testing is co-funded by “Conectar Europa” (CEF) which has contributed 1.1million euros.