100 years of rail tech developments at ZF

ZF will continue to deliver leading tech to railcar OEMs ZF will continue to deliver leading tech to railcar OEMs (Photo: ZF)

ZF Friedrichshafen is celebrating reaching 100 years as a technology provider to the rail vehicle market.

The major German supplier can trace its first business deal with a rail customer back to 1924, when it adapted a TS18.5 Soden transmission for use on a railcar.

Over its time, the Tier 1 supplier has been a leader in transmission development. During the era of diesel locomotives, the company developed automatic transmissions for trains which had gear changes so smooth as to be imperceptible to the passengers.

As the market switched to electrified trains, ZF continued to develop and deliver a series of mechanical drive components for these models.

Soden TS18.5 transmission Soden TS18.5 transmission (Photo: ZF)

Moving forward to the present day and ZF now has a wide portfolio of products and technologies which are delivered to a series of railcar manufacturers.

Almost all rapid transit systems around the world now use rolling stock which features components delivered by ZF. For example, the company’s yaw dampers are used to stabilize high-speed trains in China and on the trains using the Channel Tunnel rail link between London and Paris.

“As a singular market, rail technology was not voluminous enough for the development of technological innovations in the field of transmission technology. ZF was able to capitalize on the transfer of its innovative driveline technology from other applications – especially commercial vehicles,” explained Markus Groß, product line manager for railway technology at ZF.

The technology produced by ZF also supports the sustainability goals of mass transit operators, as Prof. Dr. Peter Laier, member of the Board of Management of ZF, who is also responsible for Commercial Vehicle Solutions and Industrial Technology, explained: “Sustainable mobility of the future requires rail vehicles. With our 100- year commitment to rail technology and as a reliable partner and innovation supplier for manufacturers and operators of rail vehicles, we are living up to our strategic claim.”

An exhibition at the ZF Forum in Friedrichshafen will mark the anniversary.

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