The use of dedicated lightweight materials will play a significant role in rail vehicles of the future, as increasing safety and comfort requirements potentially lead to increased weight. With limited axle load, the realisation of lightweight design concepts is an essential aspect to avoid an increase in mass and ideally to increase the payload. In this way, more passengers can be transported in the same space. Especially in local transport with many stops and the associated braking and acceleration processes, a „lighter“ train can reduce abrasion of braking systems and the wheel-rail system.
In only two years of development, the Dresden-based company CG Rail GmbH has developed the world’s first ultra-lightweight metro for the Chinese rail vehicle manufacturer CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co. Ltd., which consists mainly of carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP). This resulted in a weight saving of about 30 % compared to comparable metallic designs. The overall project included the development and manufacturing of several prototypes, consisting of head cabin, wagon body, bogie frame and an underfloor panelling in CFRP lightweight design.
We were able to contribute our many years of experience with lightweight engineering in multi-material design to this project and accompany the development and manufacturing of the head cabin, the wagon body and the bogie frame. We supported CG Rail GmbH in the areas of conception and design, (drape) simulation as well as manufacturing and process consulting, especially in the area of preforming and consolidation of thick-walled complex-shaped braided components.
As an example of innovative lightweight design concepts that have been adopted in series applications in rail transport, a prototype of the front cabin of the „CETROVO“ underground train system is currently on display at the Dresden Transport Museum.