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Excursion train driven by Allison fully automatic transmission

Yard tractor

Having been rebuilt with Allison Automatics, three Zalaerdő railway yard tractors work much more economically and in a more environmental-friendly way

SZENTGOTTHÁRD, Hungary – The 109 km narrow gauge railways, the longest of that kind in Hungary, are operated by Zalaerdő Inc., a forest industrial/sylviculture company. Yard tractors are used to fulfill forestry jobs during the winter, while transporting crowds of visitors from spring to autumn across the picturesque landscape. Ten units of the C50 type locomotives serve along the forest route nearby the city of Lenti. During the past years, three of them have been rebuilt utilizing Allison fully automatic transmissions.

The rebuild of the first C50 yard tractor – first put in service in 1960 – has been initiated by Zalaerdő in 2013. During the 200-hours test operation on the narrow gauge railways, the yard tractor had to cope with varying forests terrain with heavy loads at the feet of the Alps. The company utilized it in freight transport until the start of the excursion season. Having passed the tests and with an approved re-design, the rebuilt tractors have then begun supporting the more comfortable journey of passenger traffic in the holiday season. 

“The automatic transmission serves very well. It is easy to operate, drivers do not have to bother with changing gears, which results in safer journey as they can pay more attention to the load and other circumstances around the rails,” said Károly Gál, department leader at Zalaerdő. “Allison’s Continuous Power TechnologyTM proves to be very useful when starting the heavy load as well as at stopping the wood-loaded carriages.”

The satisfaction of Zalaerdő was conveyed by the fact, that they have already ordered the rebuild of a second locomotive with an Allison automatic transmission during the test period of the first one and shortly after the third one, too. In the meantime, Allison has introduced FuelSense®, a package of fuel saving technologies, each order was fulfilled with the utilization of FuelSense. All three yard tractors also benefit from the 5th generation controls, whose EcoCal option automatically gives lower shifting points. The Dynamic Shift Sensing function is also enabled, and automatically selects shift schedule, based on the carried weight and the operational grade.

The Allison Continuous Power Technology™ as well as FuelSense® package matches well to the characteristics of the railway drive, and the hydraulic torque converter enables a smooth start with such a heavy load, which can be 60 tons at a time. Uninterrupted power-shifts are always assured, and provide continuous power to the wheels and smooth gear-changes during travel. These technologies patented by Allison enable smooth acceleration with heavy load in steep hills, as well as a highly effective engine braking when slowing it. These are essential facts considering operational safety, regardless if the load is heavy forest logs, or many passengers.

Suiting rebuilds to modern demands

Complete re-motorization of the old Csepel C50 machines have been made, as repairs could not be done cost effectively, due to the worn drive-line and parts. For the modernization of the machines the customer not only put environment-friendly and cost-effective operation in focus, but an important aspect was to use innovative solutions as well. Further requests were to use locally produced main parts wherever available.

Zalaerdő chose the Szentgotthárd-made Allison fully automatic transmission beside the new Cummins QSB4.5 engine. The 3000 SP transmission has been integrated to the given environment without having to change the original form of the locomotive. The jobs were fulfilled by the local Allison distributor Liberatus Ltd., and engineers of Zalagép 95 Ltd.

The control of the locomotive also had to be fully rebuilt. Many changes took place in the drivers’ cockpit. New color LCD monitors were installed, which show the operations data of the drive-chain as well as ensure data-exchange between the traditional electronic system and the CAN network.

“Allison Transmission provides its fully automatic transmissions to a wide range of special applications. Among the very different companies which operate bus fleets or oil-mining equipment, or special vehicles, we have numerous satisfied customers,” said György Lovász, director of local retailer company of Allison Transmission. “Still, each special solution is a real exciting challenge for our engineers to solve.”

Dec 19, 2017

About Allison Transmission

Allison Transmission (NYSE: ALSN) is the world’s largest manufacturer of fully automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles and is a leader in electric hybrid-propulsion systems for city buses. Allison transmissions are used in a variety of applications including refuse, construction, fire, distribution, bus, motorhomes, defense and energy. Founded in 1915, the company is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA and employs approximately 2,900 people worldwide. With a market presence in more than 80 countries, Allison has regional headquarters in the Netherlands, China and Brazil with manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Hungary and India. Allison also has approximately 1,400 independent distributor and dealer locations worldwide. For more information, visit