WAGON leasing company GATX Rail Europe has partnered with Nevomo to enhance conventional rail freight using innovative maglev technologies on Nevomo’s test track in Nowa Sarzyna, Poland.

As part of the joint development of the new MagRail system, linear motor propulsion “booster components” will be installed on the underside of conventional freight wagons supplied by GATX Rail Europe and then tested on conventional rail infrastructure equipped with a maglev strip installed in the centre of the track.

The system is expected to supplement traction from the locomotive, increasing the maximum train weight on gradients or enabling freight trains to return to full speed more quickly after coming to a stand. The technology could also support electric traction on sections of track that are difficult to electrify, such as through tunnels and under low-clearance bridges.

Nevomo says one key advantage is that single booster wagons could operate independently without being hauled by a locomotive, which opens up possibilities for new applications in which wagons can be organised into small consists instead of full trains. This feature could be particularly useful in last mile applications at freight terminals and industrial facilities.

“The attractiveness of Nevomo’s MagRail Booster technology is an opportunity to upgrade existing railways, both in terms of infrastructure and rolling stock,” says GATX Rail Europe chief commercial officer, Mr Jörg Nowaczyk. “This will enable railways to grow faster, grow their capacity, which is urgently needed for sustainable and high-performance logistics, but at the same time to remain compatible and interoperable with current operations.”

“The first retrofits are already ongoing, and we will see the first fully electrified and automatic GATX MagRail Booster wagon on our test track this year,” says Nevomo chief business development officer, Mr Stefan Kirch.

The first 1:5 demonstration version of MagRail Nevomo was presented in 2019, with successful mid-size tests conducted in December 2020. In 2022 Nevomo completed the construction of the full-scale test track in Nowa Sarzyna, which is Europe's longest track for testing passive magnetic levitation. The first tests are underway and will now be extended to the MagRail Booster tests with conventional freight wagons on MagRail infrastructure.