QR is ready to roll out a new $28 million track maintenance machine, a 180 m long, 740 tonne, fully automated behemoth which will grind train tracks in regional Queensland.
The US built and Australian assembled machine, the largest in the southern hemisphere, will commence work on the Goonyella coal network later this month.
QR Services Executive General Manager Lindsay Cooper said the new machine would cut rail grinding maintenance time by up to 75%, which allowed more freight and coal trains to use the network.
“QR is Australia’s largest rail infrastructure business, we have a network of more than 10,000 km of rail and the responsibility and capability to maintain it,” Cooper said.
“As well as maintaining the track we own and operate in Queensland, we are also providing similar services in other areas of the country.
“We were recently successful in securing a $100 million, eight year contract to provide rail grinding for 3000 km of track throughout four mainland states, as well an additional contract for similar work in Western Australia.
By effectively shaving the top of the train tracks to restore them to their original shape, the track lasts longer and locomotives and wagons running on the tracks use less fuel and have reduced wheel wear, resulting in large cost savings on maintenance and providing a safer and more economical railway.
Everything about the Loram machine is big: the machine has 5 x 1000hp engines delivering a combined 5000hp of power (a family sedan has about 230hp), it has 80 x 30hp grind motors providing 2400hp of power to rectify and maintain the rail and it carries up to 90,000L of water for fire suppression and 48,000L of diesel to keep the machine running.
Onboard lasers and computer systems measure the track in real time, effectively allowing the minimum amount of metal to be removed from the top of the track to restore it to back to original condition. Because the machine produces sparks, it has sophisticated fire suppression equipment, including three tiered spark containment shields and foam injected water to pre-wet the track.
Large extraction fans produce 15,000 cubic feet per minute of suction to capture all the waste metal and sparks in large hoppers on board the machine.
The machine also has a fully self-contained fire fighting operation including remote controlled fire cannons, hoses, a series of different water spray systems and fire fighting support vehicles.
The Loram rail grinding machine will now move to Mackay where it is expected to be put to operational service from 18 May 2009.