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There’s no steering or accelerator but for a lethal combination of brute strength and technical sophistication, nothing comes close.
GM GT 46
‘This hybrid diesel electric locomotive uses technology we will see on cars of the future.’
l Price Rs 11.5 crore l On sale Now l 0-60kph 30.53sec l Top speed 120kph l Fuel efficiency (overall) 0.25kpl FOR massive pulling power l corners on rails AGAINST poor visibility l No air-conditioning
rains are an integral part of life in India. As common as trees, shrubs, the neighborhood busstop and the dosa joint around the corner, they are part and parcel of our country’s furniture. And the statistics are mind-boggling. Approximately 63,000 kilometres of track, 6.2 billion passengers and 730 million tonnes of freight transported every year. The Indian Railways is the largest employer of manpower in the world and it even has its own Railway Budget! But you know what happens to things we get too familiar with. We tend to ignore them. Well, that’s all about to change, as Autocar India takes an in-depth look at the General Motors WDG4 (Wide Diesel Goods 4000bhp) diesel locomotive that’s made by the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW), Varanasi. What makes it tick, how it manages to pull those massive loads, what it’s like to drive (yes, even that) and whether there’s enough space for your mum’s luggage.
DESIGN & ENGINEERING HHHHHHHHII
The GT 46 is simply massive. Seventy feet long, 14 feet tall and
10 feet wide, no road-going vehicle can compare for size. And its weight is even more extreme. How much? Try getting your head around 126,000kg; roughly the weight of 100 family cars, but for volume no more the size of twenty. Imagine your family car weighing in at a suspension-squishing five tonnes and you’ll get some idea of how densely this beast is packed. But without the weight the locomotive would have no traction, with its steel wheels running on the steel rails. And without traction there’s no way you are pulling anything forward. But why does a train run steel wheels in the first place? It’s all got to do with reducing rolling friction. The rubber tyres your car sits on may seem like they are inflated solid, but they still flex and bend as they roll forward, adding to rolling friction. Some 25-30 percent of the fuel you burn in your car is wasted while pushing against this resistance. A train wastes almost nothing in comparison, making it the most efficient way to transport people or goods. This GM loco’s primary function is to pull heavy goods and passenger trains, some as heavy as 5,500 tonnes. So each of its six wheel sets, or 12 individual wheels, ◊
PHOTOGRAPHY ASHLEY BAXTER
Four exhaust valves per cylinder on the twostroke diesel, with cam-driven fuel injectors.
V16 engine has massive cylinders, each displacing more than 11 litres. Note ports for easy service.
Radar helps prevent wheelspin and maintains a two percent wheel slip for added traction.
6000-litre diesel tank is compartmentalised for added safety. Top-ups only in the loco yard.
Six-foot-tall alternator turns mechanical energy to electric energy and replaces gearbox.*
Massive one-tonne turbo-supercharger works as a supercharger at low speed, then as a turbo*.
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* pART picTuRES of ALco Loco
autocarindia.000 isn’t even close and even 150. Closest to the driver’s cab sits the control cabinet. Upturned engine block.com 4 Safe on the move. 50. you don’t need a gearbox. All modern locomotives also use sand. day after day. The huge 45deg. Try running your car at full power all the time. Because electric motors produce massive torque even from start-up. Handbrake to be used in emergencies only.000cc is ridiculously small. the main diesel engine. feel. The size is essential because it has to run at almost full power all day. allows you some Magna O variant non-adjustable. So why is there no gearbox? The engine is simply too big. drive only four wheel sets.* EM2000 computer controls the loco. Brake lever on the right driver’s window.000litre diesel tank as well as a radar that helps the traction computers gauge the state of grip. where all the various computers. governors and controls systems are housed. air compressor and a radiator the size of a small hut. Each direct injection unit has its own pump and the injectors are also very easy to access. size really matters here. with individual driveshafts and transfer cases. SEpTEmBER 2009 AUTOCAR INDIA 171 170 AUTOCAR INDIA SEpTEmBER 2009 www.autocarindia. 4 Safe on the move. to improve traction in difficult conditions or wet weather. Simple layout to the dash makes it easy to drive for hours at a stretch. one for each axle. but there was hardly any error. EACH displacing 11 and something litres. the locomotive actually functions like a hybrid car. This may seem strange when there is quite obviously so much torque multiplication to be done. Managing all this high voltage and ampere current is the job of the locomotive’s microprocessorbased control system. It has regular service ports at almost all levels and the cam covers can be easily opened like the top of a grand piano. with a pair of massive fans and heat exchangers placed on top. To overcome these shortcomings. And then there would be the not-so-small matter of transferring all that power through to the six wheel sets. gets duallever frontis airbags.000 horsepower would be almost as big as the engine itself. especially from this high perch. it won’t last a month. Peeking under the hood. A gearbox made to transmit 4. with the big 16cylinder diesel engine having no direct connection to the wheels. enough to swim in. Between the bogies is placed the locomotive’s fuel supply. ◊ IndIa RAIl TEST No 533 Inside out Notching up the throttle gives you a real buzz. and this loco has eight automated sand boxes that sprinkle sand as soon as some slip is detected. This holds the heavy diesel engine and all the electric and electronic components needed to transfer power to the rails. sprinkled between the wheels and rails. 2 White-on-black dials make it easy to read the speed. 10. ENGINE & GEARBOX (TRANSMISSION) HHHHHHHHHI If you’re wondering why the word transmission has been placed in brackets. crankshaft and camshaft. for decades. 3 Tractive effort is the key to the performance of the loco. which don’t need as much start-up traction. With an engine of this size you don’t so much open the bonnet and peer in. The spinning crank is mated to a giantsized rotor in a huge six-foot-tall generator and the heavy current thus produced is then transferred to individual traction motors. Front seat headrests are Auto-down function for the Knife switch on left selects direction. www. four massive valves per cylinder and a fuel injection system that functions like VW’s unit injector are instantly evident. In front of that is the main generator/ alternator that has a six-foot diameter. 4 5 5 6 6 with a whole lot of the original power being simply wasted. it’s for a very good reason. Some degree of passive steering is allowed to help negotiate tight corners. computers and sand help traction. Camshafts the size of your leg. We checked real speed versus the speedo.160cc. is easier than you would expect. Magna O variant Innocuous lever could be nudged by mistake. cylinder head bigger than human head*. it liases with the two traction computers and helps them deliver the power in the smoothest. two-stroke V16 is finished in light grey metal and is squeaky clean. This is also the reason why the engine runs at speeds your car engine idles at.000 is still some way off! With 16 massive cylinders.1 Without the right pressure in the system. gets dual front airbags.) Each set of six wheels is called a bogie (not to be confused with a wagon) and each loco has two. most effective way. Above the bogies sits the main frame or chassis of the locomotive. large throttle notch control. but you have very little direct control. But these massive 21tonne bogies aren’t rigidly fixed to the frame of the loco. The holes for the piston are large enough to put your head through (we did). So just how big is the engine? Think massive and then multiply that by a factor of ten. Traction motors sit between the wheels*. and the sump of the engine holds 950 litres of engine oil. open a couple of cupboard-like doors and look sideways at the head. Known as the EM2000. ∆ drive the locomotive (passenger locomotives. It also matches the speed of the diesel engine with the demand for electric current and can carry out a series of self-tests. It would also be extremely inefficient. you stroll down the walkway on the side of the engine. Ahead of this are the traction control cabinets. This locomotive has no traditional gearbox with toothed gears. a 6.com * pART picTuRES of ALco Loco . there’s just no way you can drive the loco. the engine displaces a humongous 186. something we like to do with all cars. This is the nerve centre of the locomotive and modern electronics play a big role in making these very complex beasts easy to live with and drive.
As the locomotive can be driven either way. so we make sure we are going in the right direction.’ the driver uses one function or another every 60 seconds. All control is done via a set of levers. or rattling. no pedals or seatbelts but the seat adjusts for height. even at the distance of almost a kilometre.autocarindia. up the locomotive. There is no steering wheel. But you don’t just turn a key.India Rail Test No 533 IN THE CAB(IN) HHHHHHIIII For a vehicle that’s as long as this. it’s also extremely cabinforward or not depending on your direction of travel. the heavy and slow low-frequency thumps from the 16 large cylinders very smooth and effortless. a set of air horns loud enough to work as a cattle prod on a ruminating bovine’s backside. dynamic power being applied to the wheels and the pressure in the braking system. there are two sets of controls but they face in different directions. Wipers for both front and rear windscreens and. electric components switched on and everything is readied to churn out huge power. enough to make your heart sound like an Enfield Bullet. Ahead of the driver is an array of dials that provide all sort of information on the loco speed. The loco’s computer takes over control in a phased manner unless ‘It feels as unstoppable as a force of nature once you get upto speed and experience its Himalayan momentum. the process is a complex set of checks and smaller individual start-ups where pumps are primed. of course. the control panel for the central computer and a programmable screen that allows you to keep an eye on functions you pre-select. the massive diesel stumbles into life. Behind on the wall are a bank of toggle switches. and there is a handbrake (of course no handbrake turns – but can you imagine!). Eventually. First an alarm is sounded. Sitting at the controls of something so massive and powerful for the first time is like a doubleshot of espresso and then some. then the throttle is brought to an idle and the loco will finally apply the brakes as well. This diesel is a far cry from the older Alco locomotive we had been driving the previous day and there is not even a hint of diesel clatter. Like in an aircraft. there’s one for the throttle and two for the brakes (for the locomotive and the rest of the train).com september 2009 AUTOCAR INDIA 173 . It’s easier to drive this apartment block-sized machine through the pair of windscreens. cabin space is pathetic. start www. It’s hushed ◊ ON THE RAILS HHHHHHHHII There’s actually no risk of nodding off here. It’s seriously loud up close. The other safety device built into the loco prevents it from becoming a ‘runaway train’.
Suddenly the motor slows down even further to just 200rpm and becomes almost Rolls-Royce-smooth. But aren’t two strokes inefficient? Not turbo-diesels. “Can we do an acceleration test?” seemed like a dangerously stupid question. now GO GO GO!” The locomotive starts slow in notch one. Still don’t believe it! www.” said the gentleman driving the engine. Diesel is only injected into the head much later. so there is no problem. horn rammed down hard repeatedly. The secret of the GM engine’s success is the fact that this is a twostroke motor. We knew the answer. What did we do? We record 0-90kph time for the Rajdhani’s loco. where fuel and air are allowed into the inlet ports. “Notch up faster. making the diesel twostroke far more elegant mechanically. all sorts of scenarios possible to train drivers.autocarindia. We spend a couple of minutes understanding the EM 2000’s information screen and toggling through its menu system in the cabin. as the loco left the low. just as exhaust is escaping the other end.” we yell as the loco picks up speed. Come to a full stop. V-Box records data earlier in the run. like a T-rex gone mad. visibility from long hood is very limited. as this one is 11 percent more efficient than the four-stroke motor of the older Alco loco. where it would be hitched to the Rajdhani and. so that we don’t delay other trains. closer to when the compression is at a maximum. As simple as that.speed tracks for the main line. and they said yes. An older-tech Alco loco was about to be transported from the shed to the platform. Finally we’re ready to go and so with a toot of the horn and strained breath. “We must be quick across this piece of track. “Okay this is a good three-and. but then slowly we notice the scenery ◊ What’ll it do FIGURING THE Rajdhani Autocar V-Box has timed all sorts. V-Box triggered. Still it was surreal when it happened. It produces twice the number of thumps for any given engine speed. which simply means it can make much more power. and some clean air is even wasted before the exhaust valves are closed. But we blurted it out anyway. Nothing much happens for the first second or so. Unlike a petrol two-stroke. So we jumped on and prayed that the 35-odd kilometre stretch was full of green lights.com The same loco we tested pulling the Rajdhani Express later in the day. Simulator at Sabarmati shed gives you the feel of driving a real train. september 2009 AUTOCAR INDIA 175 .India Rail Test No 533 ∆ silent and simply amazing. signals willing.something kilometre stretch. The air pushes the spent exhaust gases out. but soon it’s bellowing blue murder. It rocketed past us at an estimated 110kph. speedometer approaches 90kph during test. We hooked up our V-Box timing gear and waited. there is only compressed air from the turbo blown into the diesel two-stroke motor. we could do our test in between. the throttle is advanced to ‘notch one’. and we agreed. You get an impression of the perfectly machined huge pistons pumping up and down in their massive oil baths. but we just had to ask.
“Only if it is a fully loaded freight. or 0.74bhp per tonne Specific output 22.52 11. In India we tend to think of the Railways as low-tech load and people-haulers that sit at the bottom of the technology pyramid. What a mistake. Its electronically controlled two-stroke diesel runs at its most efficient engine speed and the transmission of force through electric motors and steel wheels makes it super-efficient.com GM loco is a massive 21 metres long — that’s almost as long as two Volvo buses. but no seatbelts on offer.WDG4 Diesel Electric Locomotive India Rail Test No 533 WDG4 4160mm autocar verdict HHHHHHHHHI Brute force meets technical wizardry. where the alternator works in reverse to help slow down the train. RIDE HHHHHHHHII Low-speed ride is good. 1. HANDLING HHHHHHHHHI Corners like it’s on rails. City NA Railway 0.91 68. PERFORMANCE HHHHHHHIII Incredible pulling power.5 crore Warranty NA acceleration * KPH 0-10 0-20 0-30 0-40 0-50 0-60 0-70 0-80 0-90 1/4 mile TIME (sec) 6. As with the ‘throttle’. But passenger locos in the future will go much faster.000kg per axle ENGINE WHAT IT COSTS On-rail price Rs 11. that uses technology we will see on cars in the future. Passenger trains feel as light as a feather. The GM loco brakes much more efficiently compared to the older Alco locos and this allows the Indian Railways to use a softer (only comparatively) horn as well! The WDG4 has been configured to pull goods and passenger trains. but could do with a bit more top-end power. direct injection. you only deploy the brakes. . with no traffic. especially along the Golden Quadrilateral (actually a railway term that has been used for decades) where the Indian Railways plan to upgrade the tracks. up to 160kph. very un-diesel-like.00. efficient rails and very little start-stop.27 52. and even then the strain isn’t too much. VALUE HHHHHHHHII It costs 11.19/279.25kpl. Nothing can match the Varanasi-made GM GT 46 as far as cost per kilo per kilometre and flexibility go. That it also happens to be a totally hitech piece of heavy engineering comes It corners on rails and pulls like a locomotive (couldn’t resist as a total shock.com and it will do that pulling a train all day. O=optional Front and rear Non-independent coil springs.4mm Compression ratio 16. and that’s without factoring a wet track or a slope. You can also use dynamic or engine braking. Pulling a passenger train from one city to another at average speeds of 100kph must be simply awesome. supported by twin bogies 1. Here is a railway loco saying this). Full speed on this locomotive is notch eight.25kpl Road Test Read all our road tests at www.0 Diesel(WDP 4) 4132bhp Rs 11. longitudinal Type 16 cyls in-vee. Goods.86. and even though we don’t get anywhere near the top speed. axle-hung.54 23.autocarindia.000kg Type All-wheel drive (12 wheels) Gearbox Electric motor transmission Final drive 90:17 Alternator max voltage 2600 Volts DC Performance chassis & body Construction Weight Wheels Tyres Wheel life Axle load Body on frame chassis. For the weight it pulls. but fit and finish quite crude. ublic transport is essential for a country of over 1. but you get some rocking at higher speeds.5 crore P AUTOCAR INDIA tests results are protected by world copyright and may not be reproduced without the editor’s written permission. There is a semi-detached feel to the whole experience of stopping the locomotive but this lever feels more direct as compressed air rushes in www. 21. REFINEMENT HHHHHHHHHI The two-stroke diesel is incredibly smooth. range at a glance transmission CD player/MP3 Steering steering Type Passive steer. supercharger at low speeds. The generator is told to produce high current and low voltage at low speeds and this gradually changes to low current and high voltage as speeds build. for clearly this is no common rail diesel! AI Test scorecard COMFORT HHHHHHIIII No air-conditioning and a lack of space make the cabin a squeeze. ∆ moving towards us as the loco gathers speed.000 tonnes to stop in a hurry with steel wheels on steel rails takes more than a bit. And even though you don’t have as much control over this massive machine and you can’t steer it. no really! BUILD STRENGTH & QUALITY HHHHHHHIII Tough as a rhino.com to make the brake shoes bite. but you need to advance smoothly through each notch. turbo-super-charged Bore/stroke 230.53 45.18 28. The view from the cab is a bit like peering out of your first-floor apartment window.2 billion people. We can now feel the weight of the loco crushing down on the rails and the steel wheels screech in protest as we change tracks. getting it primed to go is a very complex process.67 30. it can pull trains across the length and breadth of India without depending on an electrified overhead testers’ notes line. the overwhelming feeling of power you get taking it down the track is a real buzz. This can take almost half a kilometre from say 100kph. you can feel the sheer effortlessness of this 4000bhp locomotive rolling forward. SAFETY HHHHHHHHII Vigilance Control Device keeps driver from nodding off.1:1 Valve gear 4 exhaust valves per cyl.26. the GM loco uses very little fuel and because you can get diesel anywhere. direct contact Seat height adjust of brake shoe on wheel Reading lamps Anti-lock Radar-based Trip computer Handbrake Liquid capacities Air horns Oil sump capacity 950 litres Seatbelts Fuel tank 6000 litres NA=Not Available.autocarindia.61 45. Think of current as torque and voltage as power and you’ll understand it better.0 Diesel(WDG 4) 4132bhp Rs 11.autocarindia. While the loco is simple to drive. we ask. this loco uses merely four litres of diesel for every kilometre.000km approx. overall speed is much more important. cattle and machines all need to be transported to the farthest ends of our country at the lowest cost possible. Power and torque-to-weight figures are calculated using manufacturer’s claimed kerb weight. inlet ports Power 4132hp at 904rpm Power to weight 31. yaw Air-con compensation system ABS Foglamps Traction control system brakes Front & Rear Air brakes. even when pulling a fully loaded train! Even a Nano can’t compete with that. Unit-injector.21bhp per litre Weight of turbocharger 953kg Max tractive effort 53.160cc. two-stroke. It even makes electricity more The turbo works as a crank-driven efficiently than some power stations. “We’re not in the racing business. tapered roller bearing suspension equipment check list NA NA NA n n n n n n n n NA Braking 80-0kph 4 00-500 m (estimated with full train load) economy Test * Acceleration figures for Alco loco ENGINES 186.” And with very little startstop. www.” Amazing. That’s where this prime mover comes in.000kg Solid steel NA 6. Over a long haul. september 2009 AUTOCAR INDIA 177 FUEL ECONOMY HHHHHHHHHH Rail travel is amazingly efficient and this GM locomotive is slated to be 11 percent better than the Alco loco. getting approximately 4. people.54 17. 9/10 Makarand Potdar 21240mm Specifications Fuel Diesel Installation Mid. so its top speed is around 120kph. Does the loco strain to pull a full train forward.82 There’s no doubt that a loco is slow to accelerate but as one IR official told us. the power generated being dispersed from the top of the locomotive in the form of heat. but it’s cheap if you consider cost per kg or passengers. 176 AUTOCAR INDIA september 2009 A large number of safety devices work in series. The lever is advanced to notch two and the loco gathers even more speed with a slight lurch. While stopping a light loco is easy. D=Driver. Most of us pay trains no respect or attention.5 crore 186.5 crore.
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