A new high-capacity rail mounted crane for Iarnród Éireann/Irish Rail is due to be commissioned in the coming months.
The customised crane was built by Kirow, a German crane manufacturer, and will arrive in Ireland in early October.
The KRC 500 was shipped after five members of Maintenance and Operations teams in Rhomberg Sersa Ireland (RSIE) underwent two weeks of intensive training on the crane in Leipzig, Germany. When commissioned, the team from Rhomberg Sersa will operate the crane on the Irish network.
The unique crane design allows it 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 on the line it is driving on.
As a result of utilising just one line, there is significantly less down time for services because one track can remain open while work is being carried out on the adjacent track.
The crane will be heavily utilised in the ongoing Cork Line Relay Project (CLRP) where it is planned to renew over 200 miles of track.
The new crane, once operational, will allow an increase in the amount of track relayed each weekend. During the works, the adjacent track can remain open.
The crane’s main task on this project will be the laying of 18metre/11tonne track panels. Due to its tapered counterweight and sophisticated electronic control systems, the crane will be able to slew up to 20° without infringing the neighbouring track. To pick up the panels, the crane will be equipped with a special panel grab lifting beam that eliminates the requirement for ground staff to attach the panels to the lifting beam by hand.
All operations on the new crane will be controlled by the crane operator, a member of the Rhomberg Sersa team, in the crane cabin. This ensures a safe method of work.
The crane is also capable of carrying out a broad range of tasks including renewal of points and crossing layouts, renewal of bridges, overhead line gantries etc.
As a fully mobile crane, it also has the ability to carry and move loads along the tracks and place them as required.
While it is expected that the crane will be focused on the Dublin-Cork line in the immediate future, longer term the crane will be a valuable addition to the IÉ OTM fleet and future infrastructure projects.
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 network up until the 1990’s before being decommissioned. In 2019, following a European wide procurement process, IÉ placed an order for the KRC 500.
RSIE and IÉ are currently working with the Commission for Railway Regulation (CRR) to ensure the KRC 500 is commissioned early next year. It is expected to be operational on the network in the spring of 2022.