Robust connectors help to support the repair of rail tracks and points

Running over tracks, trains exert great force on the ground. Rails deform under the load and return elastically to the starting position, after the rail vehicle has passed over them – which is true at least for rails on a well-gravelled and thus solid ground. In the long term, however, the track bed loses its solid structure, changing the required geometry and position.

This is, where manufacturers Plasser & Theurer from Linz, Austria, start with their tamping machines and other devices. These machines repair the track bed by lifting and aligning the track panel consisting of rails and sleepers. In addition, they compact the ballast under the sleepers until the sleeper bearing is stable again. For this purpose, the tamping picks of the machine penetrate into the ballast bed and compact it according to the “asynchronous equal pressure tamping principle”.

In one variant, the tamping units are accommodated on a satellite of the train vehicle. While the main machine runs continuously, the satellite – including the lifting and lining units as well as the ballast tamper – works cyclically. Traction motors drive the working units as well as the entire satellite. The power required for traction is transmitted via connectors that are placed between the main engine and the satellite.

Plasser & Theurer Unimat 09-4x4/4s

Connector needed for supplying these machines must be particularly robust: Outdoors, they must reliably protect the contacts from dust and water. In addition, hoods and housings must protect contacts against stone chipping. Another requirement is shock and vibration safety according to DIN EN 61 373. As the tamping units also require high currents, Plasser & Theurer use Han® 34 HPR industrial connectors. Their hoods/housings and holding frames accommodate up to four 650 A contacts in one interface. They thus achieve a higher contact or power density than comparable solutions in the market.

Angled Han® 34 HPR hood/housings with jumper cables enable a reliable supply of a tamping vehicle (here: Plasser Unimat).

As an alternative to the 650 A contacts, up to 12 modules of the Han-Modular® series can be inserted – enabling both power as well as data and/or signal transmission. For such applications, HARTING offers the broadest portfolio comprising more than one hundred different single modular connectors. The diversity allows for countless possible configurations of hybrid interfaces. Thus, different voltages, different signal types as well as data e.g. for Ethernet networks can be transmitted through one connector.

Plasser & Theurer are the world market leaders in tamping units. However, with their machines and services they go beyond the maintenance of track beds. They are considered the world’s only complete provider for constructing and maintaining railway lines.

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