First railcar ready for use again after flood disaster

Article: First railcar ready for use again after flood disaster

The floods in July 2021 in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate hit the regions hard. In addition to the terrible impact on residents and infrastructure, seven DB Regio vehicles were also damaged by the disaster. The first railcar of the VT 620 series has been extensively refurbished at DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung meanwhile and is now fully operational again. The six remaining vehicles will be repaired by the beginning of 2024.

Shortly after the initial damage assessment, it was clear that DB Regio NRW would not be able to repair the damage on its own. In order to be able to carry out the repairs in the best possible way, the company decided to call on the technical expertise and many years of experience of DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung. As a partner, they first developed a plan of measures to be able to tackle the damage repair in Kassel and at other locations directly.

Experts in action together

Damage to the powerpacks (engines), brake components, bogies, wheel sets, gearboxes, heaters and couplings, among other things, were found on the vehicles. There was also moisture damage to floors and the interior. In order to be able to repair the range of damage in the best possible way, experts from other DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung maintenance depots were also called in.

"It's fantastic to be able to call on so many helpful employees with sound specialist knowledge in order to achieve great things together. For example, the Bremen team looked at the powerpacks, the employees from Fulda took a close look at the brakes and clutches, and the Kassel team devoted themselves to the vehicle interior." reports Dennis Landen, Key Account Manager for DB Regio NRW at DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung.

The remaining six diesel railcars of the so-called vareo network in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate are currently undergoing extensive repairs for their return to service. The vehicles can be handed over to DB Regio NRW in the next few months. The total damage is estimated at 25 million euros.

"It was a great team effort across the business unit boundaries – with a great result. Thanks to the close coordination and very good communication, everyone involved was always up to date," says Thomas Killmaier, head of the Kassel maintenance depot.

Successful reconstruction

DB's infrastructure was also severely damaged in the flood and destroyed in large parts. DB estimates the damage at 1.3 billion euros. The floods affected more than 50 bridges as well as stations, stops and technology. A total of 180 level crossings, almost 40 signal boxes and more than 1,000 overhead line and signal masts were affected. Since then, reconstruction has been in full swing: one year after the flood disaster, 85 percent of the destroyed infrastructure has already been put back into operation.

"We would like to thank all our employees for their commitment in this special situation. We, too, only gradually became aware of the extent of the damage both to the infrastructure and to our own vehicles. We would also like to thank our passengers for their patience during the rail replacement service, which was and in some cases still is necessary," says Frederik Ley, Head of Regional Management at DB Regio NRW.

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