The Unimog –
an expert on rail tracks.

Shunting goods wagons on a grand scale in Morsbach, France: with the road-rail Unimog U 423.

This is where goods trains were once put together and sent to steelworks or coal traders, but today 30 kilometres of tracks and an abandoned signal box make the premises of Société de Garage de Morsbach (SGM) look more like an industrial wasteland. But between the hundreds of brown goods wagons there is one vehicle still holding the fort: the road-rail Unimog U 423. With its yellow metal bars and two large yellow compressed-air tanks on the load area the Special Truck immediately catches the eye. SGM employee Tatiana Gorgol cannot imagine a better vehicle for shunting the many freight wagons. For the Unimog U 423 can work like a locomotive too.

Road-rail vehicle makes railway work easier by miles.

The road-rail vehicle from Mercedes-Benz is the ideal workhorse for putting goods wagons together to form complete trains on a daily basis. The Unimog U 423 easily pushes six four-axled bulk freight and flat wagons around in reverse gear. The 170 kW Euro VI engine in the Special Truck delivers what it promises. And Tatiana Gorgol and her colleague Christophe Blanchard can confirm this.

If one of the owners needs their wagon the perfectly attuned team shunts the wagon bearing the relevant number from wherever it is located to the siding. Christophe Blanchard makes sure that the train is on the right track throughout the shunting operation. Sometimes he has to set the points by hand. That means he is also in constant contact by radio with his colleague at the wheel.

Road-rail Unimog U 423: multitalented and at home on the wharf.

The Unimog needs separate, hydraulically controlled guide rollers at the front and rear to keep it on the tracks. These four steel wheels adjust the contact pressure of the tyres on the tracks according to the prevailing conditions. Contrary to a locomotive, the Unimog doesn't have a sand spreader to increase traction on wet or icy tracks. An air pressure of 5 bar is needed to release the wagons' pneumatic brakes. Tatiana Gorgol and Christophe Blanchard obtain this from the Unimog vehicle's two compressed-air reservoirs.

The Unimog U 423 is the ideal vehicle for my line of work.

 

Tatiana Gorgol, employee at Société de Garage de Morsbach (SGM)

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Unique in France.

SGM offers the only parking area for freight wagons in the whole of France, and the wagons can be parked here for an unlimited period of time. If an owner needs one of their wagons, a simple email containing the wagon number is all it takes. Wagons which have been ordered are shunted from their standing points to the siding, where a locomotive collects them twice a week. The biggest customers STVA, ERMEWA and VTG each store up to 80,000 wagons on the SGM site – so the Unimog is always kept busy.

Unimog U 423: irreplaceable benefits.

Tatiana Gorgol is more than impressed by the road-rail Unimog. She says it is the ideal vehicle for this work. Because unlike a locomotive, it doesn't have to be preheated for an hour before you can use it. "What's more, it can simply hop off the tracks when needed for shunting at the other end of a train" – another of the Special Truck's advantages much appreciated by the Unimog driver. So it's no wonder she would never want to be without the Unimog U 423 in the French commune of Morsbach.

 

Photos: Oliver Bos

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