Powertrain specialist LH Group Services has renewed its partnership with Mercedes-Benz Trucks, after winning an order from the UK’s Network Rail for eight Unimogs adapted for use on rail, road and rough terrain.
The 4x4 trucks are based on 13.3-tonne GVW U423 chassis supplied by Dealer Lloyd, and have been undergoing conversion at LH’s production facility in Staffordshire, UK. Specified for overhead line work, all bar one are being fitted with a 6m working height access platform, with a basket capacity of 400kg. The exception is the final vehicle, for which LH has designed a 2,500kg scissor lift.
The first five units will be based across Scotland, with the remaining three earmarked for operation in the East Midlands, UK, where Network Rail recently completed a major upgrade project designed to improve services between Corby, Kettering and London.
The Unimog’s unrivalled off-road capability and 56mph on road top speed, together reliability and excellent visibility, combine to make it ideally suited to this demanding role, said the company.
The eight new vehicles are joining an existing Network Rail fleet of 26 Unimog road-railers, all built by LH Group Services. Their Euro VI engines mean the latest arrivals are cleaner than previous versions.
LH was established in 1953 and has a long history of manufacturing, servicing and refurbishing Unimog-based road-rail vehicles. It is Part of the US-owned Wabtec Corporation.
The U423 employs a 5.1-litre in-line four-cylinder powerlant which produces 170 kW and drives through a fully synchronised manual transmission with eight forward and six reverse gears. Each truck is fitted by LH with additional bogies front and rear, to provide guidance for ‘on rail’ operation – these are deployed or raised hydraulically, from the cab.
Crucially, while other road-rail vehicles typically require a level crossing or RRAP (Road Rail Access Point) to join the track, if none is available nearby Unimogs can comfortably traverse challenging ground to get to work. The fact that LH specifies the shorter of the two available wheelbase lengths also makes life easier for drivers.
In addition to the front- and rear-facing cameras supplied by Mercedes-Benz, LH is equipping each truck with a further four recordable cameras.
Tony Culverwell, LH’s head of industrial products, commented, “It’s all about flexibility and ease of operation. Railway access points can often be difficult and challenging, but not for a short-wheelbase, 4x4 Unimog. The truck also offers a massive on-rail towing ability and is exceptionally reliable, while the reduction in emissions is good news too, particularly for operatives working in tunnels.”