ZF will provide the latest generation of its two-stage spur gear drive to equip the metro trains manufactured by Hitachi Rail for Italy’s two largest cities, Milan and Rome. Compared to the previous version, this unit is approximately ten percent lighter and features redesigned, noise-optimized gearing. These improvements enhance the vehicles’ payload capacity, cost-effectiveness, and passenger comfort. ZF is set to manufacture approximately 1,200 drives for both metro fleets. The Group will unveil the new model and showcase additional rail industry innovations at Stand G60 during the Expo Ferroviaria exhibition in Milan from October 3rd to 5th.
Thinking of mobility in Italy, the first suspects that come to mind are probably rattling Vespas, swift Fiats and racy Ferraris. “However, this list ignores how important public transport is for the country,” says Michael Topp, who works at ZF as Key Account Manager for Rail Drive Systems. For Italy’s largest metropolitan regions – around the capital Rome and the commercial center Milan – rail transport plays an important role. Several million inhabitants, not to mention the countless tourists, commute “in treno.” In Rome alone, three metro lines transport over one million people every day. Hitachi Rail, which will realize the next generation of vehicles for these metro networks, will install a new two-stage spur gear drive from ZF.
Quieter, lighter, powerful
Reliability, high power density and, above all, weight savings were at the top of the list of requirements for the new rail drives. The last two rail drive generations of the Metro fleet also came from the German company. “So we knew how to go about it,” says Alfred Kienzle, Team Lead for Rail Drive Systems Product Development at ZF. “That’s why we were able to efficiently streamline the development of this series.”
The time span between the award of the contract by the ATM Milan to Hitachi Rail and production maturity was just under 12 months. During this time, ZF developed a new, noise-improved gearing and optimized the spheroidal graphite cast iron housing. The result: At 307.5 kg (dry, without torque support and clutch), the unit weighs around ten percent less than its predecessor and also saves almost 30 percent on material costs. On the other hand, robustness and durability remain unchanged – they correspond to the proven ZF standard.
Due to the reduced weight, it contributes to the reduction of vehicle weight which consequently saves energy spent in train running. The savings are significant considering that about 16 transmissions are installed for each train. In addition, the drive is quieter during operation, which increases on-board comfort. Another bonus: Thanks to the same connections, it is also possible to retrofit existing vehicles. This may save public transport companies the costly renewal of the fleet.
ZF sets the standard in the Italian rail sector
These advantages also convinced Hitachi Rail, the manufacturer of the new metro vehicles for Milan and Rome to work with ZF. Metro Milan already has 736 drives in its order book, which corresponds to 46 trains. In Rome, ZF is to equip a total of 30 trains and expects a total quantity of 480. “With this order and in view of our previous success story in the industry, one could say that we are setting the benchmark in the Italian market,” summarizes Michael Topp.
ZF will present its new rail drive and other innovations for the rail industry at its booth (Stand G60) at the Italian Expo Ferroviaria exhibition (Milan, October 3–5).