Despite the fact that the railway sector is now using modern low-consumption, low-emission engines that comply with the EU’s Stage V emission standard, it is hybrid drive systems that are increasingly becoming the focus of attention in the field of rail vehicle technology. Along with the increasing electrification of rail networks, this trend can be attributed in particular to the public nature of the issue of emissions from combustion engines. With its Modula hybrid locomotive, Vossloh Rolling Stock is looking to forge ahead with this development and is aiming its innovative platform concept primarily at future transportation tasks that directly combine shunting services and the transportation of freight.
Regardless of which form of energy storage prevails in the future – diesel fuel, batteries, hydrogen fuel cells or the more durable hydrogen-fuelled piston engine – the modular platform of the Modula is ready-made to integrate both current and future energy storage and power generation technologies. You can choose your locomotive’s hybrid configuration according to your specific area of use, and in so doing equip it perfectly to suit your actual operational profile. The locomotive’s high-performance traction under catenary and the optimally configured output of the secondary power sources (e.g. diesel engine or traction battery) deliver consistently lower energy costs when operating on secondary lines or hauling track maintenance trains while at the same time providing very good shunting capabilities. Since the operating mode can be changed quickly while the locomotive is moving from catenary to on-board energy storage or diesel module, the hybrid locomotive principle extends the radius of activity and at the same time ensures a better environmental footprint and lowers costs. Braking energy can also be fed back into the catenary network or the traction battery: something which has never been possible with purely diesel locomotives. The optimized efficiency of the drive train and auxiliary systems further contributes to increasing the Modula’s cost-effectiveness. By integrating energy storage modules such as batteries or diesel fuel through the use of standardized and validated interfaces, the vehicle architecture enables the flexible implementation of different energy sources and also facilitates universal network access.
Certainty in the scheduling
Another forward-thinking feature is the predictive maintenance concept. In contrast to standard regular maintenance, the Modula platform is designed for extensively flexible, condition-based locomotive maintenance that depends on the number of kilometers a locomotive has traveled and the time it has spent in operation. This new principle guarantees the locomotive’s excellent availability and reliability in order to provide scheduling certainty while also helping to reduce the per-kilometer running costs. Predictive maintenance also results in lower maintenance costs and enables the "lifespan reserve" of the respective components to be utilized in the best possible way. This is achieved with the help of limit values and monitoring logic that analyze the condition of the systems driving the locomotive’s essential components. Of course, the prerequisite here is a smart locomotive that continually sends out the component-based condition and location information using sensors and GPS modules. In the short-term, this enables problems to be rectified using Augmented Reality and also supports digital fleet management. In the long term, cost-savings potential can be identified and the workshop management optimized through the automated control of supply currents and processes.