Overhaul instead of new development
How a grounding contact saves costs in train refurbishment | Customer testimonial
Lesezeit: 4 Minute(n)
Datum: 13. Oktober 2023

Next stop: Ryde - When the tube arrives on the Isle of Wight

When the 2:45 p.m. ferry arrived on the Isle of Wight on November 19, 2020, a very special passenger disembarked: the first of a total of five trains for the completely refurbished fleet of the modernized Island Line. The trains thus continue the Island Line‘s long-standing tradition of using refurbished and rebuilt London Underground equipment.

Adrian Handley, Sales and Marketing Director of Sabre Rail, the UK's leading independent specialist in the overhaul of rail systems and components, shares the challenges the vehicle manufacturer faced in order to be able to operate the trains on the island and the solution that was developed together with Schunk.


(Image below: The first Island Line Class 484 train arrives at Wightlinks Fishbourne ferry terminal. © James123pilbeam, license.)

Next stop: Ryde - When the tube arrives on the Isle of Wight

Problem bogies - How does the changeover to the third rail work?

Buying up components from retired subway trains and refurbishing them for regional traffic is a cost-effective and environmentally resource-saving solution for rail vehicle manufacturers. Sabre Rail, who overhauled London Underground bogies for this project, however, faced a problem: "The challenge was to convert the bogie grounding system from a fourth-rail to an axle grounding contact to use the third-rail infrastructure on the island, and at the same time integrate this with the new wheel-slide protection (WSP) system also provided by Sabre Rail", explains Adrian Handley.

No standard - a tailor-made solution is required

An axial grounding contact was therefore required for the components‘ new application on the Isle of Wight‘s regional rail service. At the same time, a temperature sensor at the end of the axle was to ensure that overheating at the bearing could be measured at an early stage in order to prevent bearing damage and the associated train failures.

As an expert in power transmission in the rail industry, Schunk worked with a German sensor manufacturer to develop a custom-fit and sustainable solution for Sabre Rail.

The challenge was to convert the bogie grounding system from a fourth-rail to an axle grounding contact to use the third-rail infrastructure on the island.

Adrian Handley, Sabre Rail

Ideal partners - How Sabre Rail and Schunk score with train manufacturers

"We knew that Schunk had many years of experience in power transmission in the rail industry and extensive knowledge of what systems would be suitable for this project to achieve rail suitability,” Handley said. “That, plus the fact that Schunk has a fully equipped test lab at its center of excellence in Germany, made Schunk the ideal partner for us on this project.

Another decisive factor for the rail vehicle manufacturer was that in the unprecedented times with the Corona Virus, they had an experienced local partner in England with Sabre Rail and in Schunk they had an international team from Germany for professional digital exchange.”

Arrival of the first Island Line train of class 484 on the Isle of Wight

Avoiding failures - Why long-life grounding contacts save costs

Trains that have to be repaired and are at a standstill due to bearing damage cost money every day. To avoid these train failures, grounding contacts must reliably dissipate the continuous return current on a permanent basis.

Schunk therefore offers durable standardized and customized grounding solutions for all installation situations. All solutions are characterized by great engineering know-how, maximum robustness and suitable material selection in order to keep operating costs as low as possible.

4 steps - The path to a customized grounding solution

To design the bogie for the new conditions, Schunk worked with a sensor manufacturer to develop a grounding contact with an integrated temperature sensor, which made it possible to avoid the much more costly redesign of the entire bogie.

Four project steps on the way to success:

  1. Competent consulting by sales staff on site.
  2. Design of an axial grounding contact with integration of a WSP system with integral temperature sensor in the axle.
  3. Testing of the axial grounding contact with temperature sensor in Schunk‘s own test laboratory to reliably and cost-effectively test different effects on the complete system and ensure rail suitability.
  4. Series production for Sabre Rail as systems supplier, overhauler and maintenance provider to the vehicle manufacturer.

At a glance: How a axial grounding contact optimizes life cycle costs

  • brush life of 1.2 million kilometers
  • lightweight construction
  • access for temperature sensor.

Customer feedback: What Sabre Rail says

By working together from concept, design, and series production with Schunk and the sensor manufacturer, we have succeeded in developing a grounding contact with integral WSP system that meets our requirements fully and we are looking forward to further projects.

Adrian Handley, Sabre Rail