Kirow Crane Completes First Test Shifts on Irish Rail Network
The new Kirow KRC 500 Crane - which is currently being tested to operate on the Irish Rail network - has completed its first test shifts.
Purchased by Iarnród Éireann - Irish Rail (IÉ) and set to be operated by the team at Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group (Ireland), the first test shift last month saw the four person crew successfully operate the crane and replace a crossover just south of Skerries on the main Dublin-Belfast line.
The customised crane was built by Kirow, a German crane manufacturer which recently changed its name to Techne Kirow. It is the first crane of its kind to operate on the Irish Rail network. The KRC 500 is a unique design which allows the crane to operate on one track of a double line whilst train operations continue on the adjacent track. This means it can lift and carry longitudinally up to 30 tonnes of rail panels in front of itself for relaying purposes. While this allows for significantly less down time for services, the Irish Rail line was closed during the first test shift.
A schedule of works is being determined by Irish Rail but it is expected that the crane will carry out significant works on the Cork Line Relay Project (CLRP) where Irish Rail plans to renew over 200 miles of track. The new crane would allow an increase in the amount of track relayed each weekend to two and a half miles during a 36-hour possession.
Additionally, the crane is capable of carrying out a broad range of tasks including renewal of bridges and overhead line gantries.
As a fully mobile crane, it also has the ability to carry and move loads along the tracks and place them as required. For example, if a footbridge needs to be replaced and access to the bridge with machinery is challenging, the Kirow crane could be used to remove the old bridge and lift the new one into place.
It was work similar to this which the crew undertook during the second test shift in Clonmel, Co Tipperary. This test shift was also successfully completed. All learnings from the two test shifts will be used to plan future works and facilitate the ongoing maintenance and renewal activities across the network.
The crane is currently undergoing a rigorous commissioning process with the Commission for Railway Regulation (CRR) after which it will enter full service on the Irish Rail network. The crane will be operated and maintained by Rhomberg Sersa under the OTM Operate / Maintain contract.
The state-of-the-art machine will be the first rail mounted crane to operate on the island of Ireland since the decommissioning of the old Cowans Sheldon 30 tonne steam crane.
The old crane operated on the Irish Rail network up until the 1990’s before being decommissioned. In 2019, following a European wide procurement process, Irish Rail placed an order for the KRC 500.
As part of the rigorous training process for operating the new crane, Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group (Ireland) worked closely with sister company RS Switzerland (“SMG”). The Swiss team currently operate five Kirow cranes. These are KRC 1200s and are significantly larger than the KRC 500, with additional lift capacity.
As well as travelling to Switzerland, a team from Switzerland delivered training here in Ireland, as well as participating in the first test shift.
The intensive training focused on how to safely operate the machine as well as how to maintain it should there be any sort of breakdown or disruption to work.
The training provided by the Swiss team accelerated the learning of the Irish operators and helped them gain a better understanding of the full capabilities of the crane. It will also ensure they are better prepared for any problems which could arise during live shifts.