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How does a 100-tonne train get towed by a car for 10km?

Posted by Luke Upton on Jun 21, 2016

Resized_LR_DS_TRAIN_PULL_160616_03.jpgHow does your train company solve the problem of a broken down train on the tracks? Wheel an old locomotive out of the yard to nudge it along. Or perhaps re-route other services and hope the engineers can sort it out quickly? Well, a video from Switzerland has revealed another option – use a Land Rover. Fitted with rail guidance wheels to keep it on track, one recently towed a train sixty times its own weight, equivalent to that of a Boeing-757 airplane. The standard Discovery Sport towed three luxury train carriages weighing 100 tonnes, along 10km of track at the Museumsbahn Stein am Rhein in Switzerland, crossing the River Rhine on the dramatic Hemishofen bridge – a historic steel span measuring 935 feet long and soaring 85 feet above the valley floor.

British road-to-rail 4x4 conversion specialists Aquarius Railroad Technologies fitted the rail wheels to an otherwise standard Discovery Sport. Managing Director James Platt, said: “For a vehicle of this size to pull a combined weight of more than 100 tonnes demonstrates real engineering integrity. No modifications were necessary to the drivetrain whatsoever and in tests the Discovery Sport generated more pull than our road-rail Defender, which is remarkable.” 


Though the Discovery Sport has a certified maximum towing weight of 2,500kg (2.5 tonnes), it was able to pull 60 times its own weight, powered by Jaguar Land Rover’s 180PS Ingenium diesel engine providing 430Nm of torque. In addition, the Discovery Sport benefitted from Land Rover’s portfolio of towing and traction technologies such as Terrain Response, Tow Assist, Tow Hitch Assist and All Terrain Progress Control – a semi-autonomous off-road driving system that automatically manages engine output and braking, to complete the tow.

The vehicle’s remained unchanged; the only modification being the fitment of rail wheels by specialists Aquarius Railroad Technologies, to act as ‘stabilisers’. Land Rover’s All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) system was also engaged at the press of a button during the tow, to maximise traction at a set speed. Acting much like a ‘low-speed cruise control’, ATPC allows the driver to focus on the road – or in this case the railway – ahead.

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Topics: SmartRail World

Luke Upton

Written by Luke Upton

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