Is there anything the Mercedes-Benz Unimog can’t do? The versatile workhorse is employed around the world for all sorts of work, with versions designed for everything from firefighting to forest maintenance. Now Mercedes is showing off the railroad-ready version of the Unimog at the InnnoTrans rail transport exposition in Germany.
Mercedes has sold rail-capable versions of the Unimog before, but this U 423 is making an appearance in Germany with some updates. It can now be exported to China and Russia, and it also now has a built-in fire detection and extinguishing system, so it’s allowed to be used in rail tunnels.
The Unimog has special hydraulically retractable bogies to guide it along rail tracks. Mercedes says that operators can simply drive to a railroad crossing and lower the gear in a few minutes to start driving on the tracks, if necessary, and that the bogies turn tightly enough for use on track lines. The vehicle is intended for a variety of rail uses, including maintenance and inspection, but also for towing or shunting rail vehicles.
Its massive 5.1-liter turbodiesel inline-four engine delivers 231 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, with a top speed of 50 km/h (31 miles per hour). Mercedes says the Unimog can shunt up to 1,000 tonnes of rail cars, with its rubber tires providing motive force against the ground (rather than metal wheels turning on the rails). Versions intended for maintenance use like the one with the crane pictured in the gallery, however, may only be able to tow about 400 tonnes.
All in all, it’s an impressive machine that speaks volumes to the breadth of capability of the Unimog platform.
Gallery: Mercedes Unimog gets even cooler with railroad-ready model
Mercedes-Benz will be present at the Innotrans exhibition in Berlin (from 20 to 25 September, at stand no. O/234 in the southern part of the outdoor display area). Innotrans is the leading international trade fair for rail transport and the brand with the three-pointed star will be exhibiting three of the latest models for road and rail use. The road-rail Unimog is used as a shunting vehicle, for rail and overhead cable maintenance, as well as for other work along sections of the railway. Customers include railway companies, metro system service providers, urban rail and tram businesses, and service providers for railway construction and maintenance.
Newly available on non-European markets such as China or Russia is the new generation of Unimog implement carriers in the Euro V version. This means that operators in these countries can also benefit from the improved vehicle characteristics, such as „EasyDrive“: This synergetic drive system allows infinitely variable operation with the implements at speeds of up to 50 km/h and easy switching over from drive mode to work mode.
Working with an elevating work platform (exhibit)
The Unimog U 423 on show, with a long wheelbase and 170 kW (231 hp) output, is equipped with an elevating work platform and guidance bogie rail gear. It can therefore be used on rails with tight curve radii, such as tram tracks. The Unimog can be controlled remotely from the extended elevating work platform – for example when performing overhead cable maintenance or carrying out inspection journeys. The hydrostatic traction drive offers a considerable benefit for these types of tasks, as it enables the speed to be adjusted steplessly and the vehicle to be operated with utmost precision from the working platform.
Manoeuvring using the radio remote control (exhibit)
The Unimog can tow up to 1000 t as a shunting vehicle. This is made possible by the unique Unimog chassis concept with permanent all-wheel drive, torque-converter clutch and drive on the rails using the own wheels of the Unimog. The rail-specific equipment of the Unimog U 423 on display includes a wagon brake system for up to 52 wagon axles, the rail gear system (i.e. railway wheels mounted to the Unimog which can be raised or lowered as required) and a radio remote control. Low running costs make the Unimog an economical vehicle, too: notably thanks to low fuel consumption, attractive maintenance costs and rapid switching to the road or works yard area as well as journeys to and from the rail work locations.
Rail construction work using a crane (exhibit)
Another exhibit presented by Mercedes-Benz is a Unimog U 423 with a long wheelbase, equipped with a railway crane and work basket, rail gear and a wagon brake system for up to 400 t towing capacity. The crane equipment also includes a clamshell grabber.
The Unimog implement carrier is particularly useful due to its high flexibility in operating on rail or road, as opposed to rail maintenance vehicles restricted to the rails.
Drive provided via the tyres
With the help of special wheel rims and tyres, the Unimog can be driven on normal-gauge (1435 mm) railway lines as well as on a number of international wide-gauge tracks. A hydraulically retractable rail gear keeps the Unimog safely positioned on the track. In any area of road-level rails approximately five metres long, for example at level crossings, the Unimog can be switched to or from the rails within a few minutes so it can reach its next working destination quickly.
Fire protection certificate for use in tunnel
The new-generation Unimog is now also available with a fire alarm and fire extinguishing system in the engine compartment. This means that the road-rail Unimog conforms to the strict fire protection standards for use in tunnels where there is also passenger traffic.