Millions of kilometres and wear and tear: A locomotive repair guide
Millions of kilometres result in significant wear and tear for locomotives, so periodical repairs become essential to prolong the life of trains. 60 kilometres east of Prague, a railway repair station has been rejuvenating the locomotives for over 80 years. How do they repair locomotives? Railfreight.com talked with METRANS DYKO to bring the repair backstage into the light.
History of the rail repair workshop
The rail repair workshop has been a locomotive retreat and repair site for over 80 years. It went under the name of METRANS Group for the past fifteen years. It started with steam locomotives, but those times are long gone. The latest modern electric locomotives on European rails are now entering the premises. They leave once the thorough maintenance and repair work is finished.
A milestone reached
In the summer of 2023, METRANS DYKO reached a significant milestone when all twenty Traxx MS2 locomotives delivered in the first batch to METRANS got their TR1 general repair after eight years of operation. With the first twenty locomotives repaired and returned to operation, the workshop is getting ready to start the same process this autumn again: twenty more Traxx locomotives from the METRANS fleet will come there to rest. The workshop is open to any operator needing rolling stock repair and maintenance. But most importantly, it ensures that 120 METRANS locomotives and 3,700 intermodal wagons are always in their best shape with an in-house solution.
Disassemble the locomotive
The repair work starts when the bogies of locomotives have reached 1,2 million kilometres run. The repair will be divided into R1 repair for the bogies and TR1 repair for the locomotives.
The R1 repair requires dismantling and cleaning traction motors. The bearings will be changed before the test runs start. The gearboxes will receive similar treatments, with new bearings and oils attached. The TR1 repair is more complex. Various parts of the locomotives will be dismantled and refurbished before they are combined. One of the most challenging tasks is repairing the converter. Dry ice cleaning will be applied first; after that, selected earthing switches and contactors will be dismantled and refurbished. Condition checks are also part of the procedure for charging resistors and optical lines.
These are just a few of the hundreds of steps to disassemble a train properly. Multiple electrical and electric-mechanical components will be thoroughly monitored and refurbished at METRANS DYKO, to name a few: main switches, air conditioners, fans, pantographs, and converters of auxiliary drives. Besides that, it is equally important to repair the pneumatic equipment. All breaking panel modules need to be dismantled and sent to the manufacturer. In the meantime, the in-house team will help with the bogies’ hoses replacement and overhauling the compressor, dryer and brake units. All the effort is to ensure that a locomotive functions properly and safely.
Reassemble the locomotive
Check, clean, refurbish, renew and exchange; once all the components have gone through these stages, they are ready to be put together again. But it’s always easier said than done. To reassemble the locomotive, a thorough testing period will be needed. It is essential to test the operation of the cooling systems of the inverter and transformer since the coolant pumps of these components have been replaced. Other components, such as fans, contractors, and brake systems, will be carefully examined. Once a locomotive passes the test, it will be reassembled. From then on, METRANS DYKO technicians will conduct a test drive to ensure the overhaul’s success. After that, the train will be returned to METRANS train drivers across Europe to continue their mission of transporting the containers across the METRANS network.