Sinara banks on a full-service model
Having built up its track maintenance division through a series of acquisitions in recent years and started developing a new range of high-performance machines for Russian Railways, Sinara Transport Machines is now targeting the export market, reports Vladmir Waldin.
At the beginning of this year, Russia’s Sinara Transport Machines began delivering five Work Site Tampers to Indian Railways. These will be followed by 19 ballast regulating machines under a contract awarded last year. All are being supplied in semi-knocked down kit form for local assembly by San Engineering & Locomotives in Bengaluru, providing 50% localisation in support of the Make in India programme. The first two tampers are due to be handed over by the end of the year, with the ballast regulator kits being exported from Q3.
According to Deputy CEO for Sales Anton Zubikhin, the Indian project is part of STM’s strategy to expand its presence in foreign markets significantly. Noting that India has been using Russian-made track maintenance equipment for more than a decade, he said the company was ‘planning to develop both industrial assembly and after-sale services in this country’ in order to expand its portfolio. While better known for manufacturing locomotives, EMUs and power units, the STM subsidiary of Yekaterinburg-based Sinara Group has been developing its presence in the infrastructure maintenance market over the past few years. Its Track Machinery division acquired the Kalugaputmash business in 2014 and the neighbouring Kaluga Plant Remputmash four years later. Today the division has four design bureaux, six manufacturing plants, six affiliates and 40 service centres across the country.
Meanwhile, in June 2020 the group acquired RSP-M, which provides both static rail grinding and welding services at plants across eight regions of Russia; one of the largest is the Chelyabinsk rail depot which opened in 2015. Integration of this with the division’s other activities has made STM a ‘full service cycle’ company covering all aspects of the track superstructure.
Export drive. During 2020, STM delivered 1193 machines of various types to Russian Railways and other clients. Not surprisingly, RZD was the principal domestic customer, taking more than 70 different vehicle types for use on a variety of tasks.
Nevertheless, exports now account for 5% of sales, with revenues expected to rise from €90m in 2020 to around €221m according to the 2021 order book. The holding’s objective is to increase the export proportion to 30% over the next few years.
STM believes that its portfolio of equipment would meet the requirements of railways in more than 30 countries across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. At present most exported machinery is used in CIS countries such as Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as India, Mozambique and Serbia.
The export drive has seen the establishment of affiliates in several markets. For example, in March STM teamed up with local firm Eurotrans Group to establish a subsidiary in Kazakhstan, both to supply and maintain its products more effectively.
Equipment supplied to India over the past decade is currently serviced by local partner SRB International Pvt Ltd under annual maintenance contracts. The latest tamper kits are being produced by RPM in Kaluga, and the ballast regulators by KPM, incorporating modifications to meet local requirements. STM signed three deals with India last year worth more than €20m in total, but the group has its eye on a further 2 200 track maintenance vehicles for which IR is planning to call tenders over the next five years.
High-performance technology. Most manufacturing businesses within the STM holding can handle everything from design development to certified production, supported through a continuous interaction between design and production facilities. So as well as targeting the export market STM has been consolidating its track maintenance engineering and production competences to support the transition to a new product line that will meet the requirements of its principal customer.
Over the year, STM has established a strong partnership with RZD’s Infrastructure Design Bureau covering the development of technical requirements, and agreeing design changes to machines already in production. This interaction has already improved the efficiency of the testing and certification processes, increasing the output rate whilst maintaining quality.
High-output ballast cleaner. Typical of the new range is the SchOM-1400 high-output ballast cleaner, which has been in series production since 2017. To date, RPM has delivered 24 of these machines to RZD. Designed for round-the-clock operation in temperatures ranging from -10°C to +45°C, the machine can work with both jointed and welded tracks of any profile. It has been designed for ergonomic operation, as well as ease of maintenance and repair.
The machine combines a high degree of automation, with built-in diagnostics and CCTV for remote control of the screening units and the lifting and levelling device. Feedback from the first units to enter service has allowed the design to be further improved, offering a higher operating speed and greater reliability of components. Specific modifications were applied to the construction of the ballast planer and the distribution hopper, as well as the lifting and levelling unit.
Over the three years they have been in operation, the SchOM-1400 machines have cleaned a total of 1 500 km of track, with the RPM team continuously monitoring the key performance indicators. The company is now using this experience to develop a new track machine specifically to address localised failures of the ballast layer and subgrade.
Multi-purpose platform. Another RPM product is the AM-140 multi-purpose vehicle, a universal platform with interchangeable modular elements that can replace a variety of specialised machines, tackling a range of tasks from snow clearance to the butt welding of rails or even local freight transport. The modules can be stored separately, including in the open air, reducing pressure on track space in the depots.
Developed by designers from Kaluga in co-operation with the RZD Central Directorate of Infrastructure, the AM-140 underwent dynamic testing in 2019 to obtain a certificate of compliance. Once again, a high level of automation and fault diagnostics is provided, along with remote monitoring by CCTV.
The 140 km/h design speed allows the vehicle to travel rapidly to and from a work site, while the flexible working configuration allows the maximum volume of work to be undertaken during the relatively short possession times now available. The developers envisage that the AM-140 will not only optimise the existing maintenance fleet, but also help to rationalise the use of engineering possessions to minimise any interruptions to traffic.
The latest variant is a dedicated inspection version, designated AM-140-01; this is intended for both routine field inspections and the commissioning of new railway infrastructure. It includes an observation deck with armchairs for eight people and a meeting room. A separate lounge, kitchen and sanitary block with a shower are provided for the operating crew.
In March RPM unveiled a prototype of its updated MTSO-2 crew transport coach, aimed at supporting track maintenance personnel working in remote areas. This specialist vehicle is designed to provide comfortable transfers to and from the worksite at higher speeds and to other a significant improvement in living conditions during lengthy repair works.
Enhancements include a new air conditioning system, changes to the bodyshell insulation, addition of a second shower cabin and use of a new type of bogie with improved riding characteristics. An enhanced energy system allows the heating to be powered using diesel, electricity or solid fuel depending on what is available, while high-capacity batteries provide back-up energy storage. Swing doors are installed at both ends of the unit for convenient access, with materials storage boxes mounted below the underframe.
High-capacity hopper. In February, Sinara presented its latest Type 19-6940 ballast hopper wagon, which has 25 tonne axleload bogies to increase the carrying capacity. It others an additional 5 m3 capacity compared to the predecessor VPM-770, and can carry an extra 5 tonnes in terms of payload. This could allow the standard length of a ballast train to be reduced from 20 to 18 vehicles, or the amount of material to be increased within the same length.
According to STM, the higher payload could reduce the frequency of reloading at intermediate ballast storage bases, boosting a train’s working productivity by an estimated 20% and offering an overall 12% saving in operating costs.
Designed for operation on 1435 mm and 1520 mm gauges, the wagon can carry all grades of ballast from 5 mm to 70 mm diameter. It is equipped with an improved discharge and ‘dosing’ mechanism, which allows small quantities of ballast to be positioned more efficiently than with manual labour. Five prototypes built at RPM’s Yaroslavl plant are now undergoing factory assessment, which will be followed by dynamic tests.
Development of the new hopper wagon is linked to RZD’s aim of switching to a new generation of maintenance equipment with extended overhaul intervals; to this end the bogies have long-life cassette-type bearings rather than conventional roller bearings, offering a longer mileage between depot repairs. The wagons are equipped with lighting systems to illuminate the working areas, as well as SmartSun tracking devices and RFID tags for the large cast elements.
Snow clearing. Another recent development unveiled at RPM’s Vereshchagino plant in April is the PSS-2P snow-clearing train, developed by the plant’s engineers in co-operation with the Kaluga design bureau. Intended as a successor to the PSS-1K, of which the plant has delivered 154 series-built units since 2013, the new variant offers a better performance and improved fuel consumption.
During 2020 Vereshchagino delivered 14 PSS-1K units to RZD for use on its Far East, Northern, Sverdlovsk and Zapadno-Sibirskaya railways, among others. The basic configuration includes a leading snowplough, two intermediate vehicles and an open wagon at the rear with a power unit. The machines are able to clear up to 1200 m of track per hour and carry away 180 tonnes of snow. The enhanced fleet allowed RZD to address heavy snowfalls across the country in the early months of 2021.
Changes incorporated in the PSS-2P include moving the snow clearing ploughs from the superstructure to the front of the train. This provides better visibility and allows the operator to control the quality of the clearing. Functionality is also enhanced by fitting an additional icebreaking unit.
STM says recent improvements to the manufacturing organisation has reduced the build time for a single PSS-1K from 136 to just 44 days. That improvement will also apply to production of the new model, which is expected to get its certification in July.
Tracklaying crane. Last September, saw the award of a certificate of conformity for the modernised UK-25/25 tracklaying crane, produced by Kalugaputmash. Fitted with two enclosed operator cabs, this is able to deal with 25 m long preassembled track sections weighing up to 25 tonnes each. It is normally the lead vehicle in tracklaying trains, and can operate in self-propelled mode within possessions.
The successor to a previous generation of equipment with the same designation, the crane has been revised to improve safety during the laying and dismantling of tracks, as well as to reduce operating costs. Operating cabs with fully duplicated controls are now provided on both sides on the boom for maximum flexibility, while the traversing unit has been fitted with modified grippers that can be controlled remotely. The enhanced controls, monitoring and sustainment systems allow the unit to be driven by a single operator, boosting productivity.
The MPK self-propelled flat wagon is used to transfer in bulk preassembled track sections up to 30 m long. Fitted with an enclosed cab and two sets of controls, it can be deployed with the crane as part of a tracklaying or repair unit, or operate in a stand-alone mode to shunt around a factory or track panel assembly yard. It is able to carry up to seven panels with wooden sleepers or six heavier ones with reinforced concrete bearers. Operating speed is 30 km/h when self-propelled, with a maximum tractive effort of 120 kN, but the unit can be hauled in train at up to 90 km/h when loaded or empty.