Rail engineering solutions provider Grindrod Locomotives has implemented over 20 shunting solutions across Africa, including the latest delivery of six locomotives to the Cote d'Ivoire Sitarail operations since developing its shunting product range in 2012.
This GS7 shunting product is a three axle configuration with a 700 hp genset single cab configuration. Individual axle control providing unsurpassed tractive effort performance with two locomotives in tandem being capable of moving 11 000 t trains through a loading operation at South Africa's Tshipi mine, in the Northern Cape. It was the tandem operation concept of the GS7 that gave birth to the idea of a product for passenger services.
The African Context
As background to the market demand one needs to consider the African rail equation, excluding countries such as South Africa and Egypt which have advanced passenger services offerings.
Road transport is congested and even 200 km trips can take up to eight hours with the added problem of African governments not adequately recouping the costs of wear and tear to the road infrastructure from the road hauliers. Political service delivery, therefore, necessitates some form of subsidised rail passenger service.
Most African countries with some form of rail infrastructure offer a passenger service that is coupled with a freight element for intercity services. Due to the lack of electrification this is normally a diesel-electric service with mainline diesel locomotives being used to haul a few passenger coaches. The maximum gross train load is not more than 1000t and speeds are generally less than 90 km/h. Mainline locomotives across the continent generally range in size from 1 500 hp to 3 000 hp and are significantly bigger than required for the loading and not that fuel efficient.
'Rail engineers know that tractive effort at lower speeds does not require significant power and consideration was initially given to creating an offering of a higher-speed shunting locomotive for this service. This product exists ñ the GS7 developed for Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) is capable of 80 km/h and also offers dynamic braking,' says Grindrod Locomotives CEO Robert Spoon.
GB14 Passenger Loco
'In consultation with rail operators such as CFM, TRL, Camrail, KR and NRC, we established that a long-term maximum speed of 120 km/h would be required once rail infrastructure upgrades were completed. However, to achieve this higher speed, more power would be needed.
'The requirement for head end power, a power source for coach air-conditioning and lighting, as well as a measure of redundancy, spawned a dual genset offering. In addition to the aforementioned requirements, a number of railway systems are high curvature and single track needing to have driver cabs at both ends of the locomotive. This has resulted in Grindrod Locomotives developing the GB14 locomotive which is of Bo-Bo construction,' comments Spoon.
This machine will soon be delivered to Grindrod Locomotives' first customer and will have:
- a double cab ñ Monocoque design for streamlined airflow at 120 km/h;
- 30% fuel saving compared with mainline locomotive operations;
- Bo-Bo to assist with the higher curvature;
- a dual engine for 100% redundancy;
- alternating currect traction for maximum tractive effort;
- gross power of 1 400 hp and
- two CAT C18 engines with an alternative of MTU and Cummins.
Spoon adds that BollorÈ, one of its key customers in Central Africa, provided the company with some valuable strategic input into the locomotive aesthetics. 'This has enabled us to develop a modern passenger locomotive offering which can also double up for heavy shunting use if so required.'
'Grindrod Locomotives believes that the continued upgrading of rail infrastructure throughout Africa is a crucial requirement in driving the development of effective and efficient freight and passenger services. Our new GB14 passenger locomotive, with its dual shunting purpose, will be the most cost-efficient and reliable passenger locomotive available meeting African service level requirements,' concludes Spoon