Heavylift / Breakbulk
25 locos in three years
European locomotive technology is helping to improve the rail transport situation in New York and New Jersey. Universal Transport, a subsidiary of Gruber Logistics, transported Alstom engines across the Atlantic Ocean from a plant in Kassel (Germany).
The remarkable ALP-45DP dual power locomotive is set to revolutionise scheduled train services in the bustling New York-New Jersey urban area. The engines were manufactured at Alstom’s plant (formerly Bombardier) in Kassel (Germany).
The major tasks of transporting 25 locomotives to the USA was successfully completed recently by the Paderborn-based heavy transport company Universal Transport, a part of the international Gruber Logistics Group. In August the last unit landed safely in the port of New Jersey. The arrival of the locomotive, which had travelled across the Atlantic Ocean from Hamburg on 31 July, marked the conclusion of years of planning and project execution.
A low-loader tailor-made for the task
The German railway network isn’t designed to manage the locomotives, whose axle load exceeds the network limit of 22.5 t and whose wheel profiles and technical parameters don’t comply with European railway standards. There was thus no possibility of getting them to the German port by rail.
Holger Dechant, the CEO of the Universal Transport Group and a member of the board of directors of Gruber Logistics, stated that “the dilapidated state of Germany’s infrastructure left us with only one viable route, and numerous measures were necessary to overcome the various obstacles that presented themselves to us along the way.”
The measures to overcome these hurdles included creating an extra tarred lane in a roundabout near Paderborn. Specially-developed equipment, including a low-loader trailer tailor-made for this task, which could be lowered to a mere 2 cm above ground level, made it possible to pass under low bridges along the route. A second tractor unit at the back helped master inclines and supported the consignments when braking.
Build a road; go amphibious
Each locomotive frame weighing 90 t needed four nights for the first part of the 360 km journey from Kassel to Hamburg. The route was continuously adapted to the traffic situation.
Since one bridge in Hamburg couldn’t carry the convoy’s total weight of 230 t, a floating crane was needed to lift the locomotives from the trucks and transport them the 6 km to the terminal on the river Elbe. There they were lashed onto bogies before being transferred to a ro-ro ship and sailing 6,000 km across the Atlantic Ocean to New Jersey.
Universal Transport’s subsidiary, Züst & Bachmeier, a specialist for project cargo headquartered in Nuremberg (Germany), played an important overall role in the project, as did StB Verkehrstechnik, which prepared and accompanied the route in Germany. Dechant has calculated that the distance covered transporting all 25 engines is equivalent to circumnavigating the globe four times.