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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 1, 1931)

Germany's Novel Rail Car

Germany's Novel Rail Car.

While the Home railways, like those of New Zealand, remain loyal to the conventional form of steam and petrol rail car, in Germany a more ambitious line is being taken by developing rail cars driven by aeroplane engines and propellers. The first car of this unique type has been put into service at Hanover, and in its initial trials it attained a speed of 95 miles an hour.

The machine has been built by Herr Kruckenberg, in association with the German Railways, and in exterior appearance the car resembles an airship on rails. A blunt nose contains the driver's compartment, and the silver stream-lined vehicle is 85 feet long. Two running wheels are provided at either end, and an aeroplane four-bladed propeller is situated at the rear. The body is of steel tubing covered with sheet aluminium, the total weight of the car being about 18 1/2 tons. Passenger windows run the full length of the body, and a central entrance door gives access to two compartments, one smoking and the other nonsmoking. The aeroplane engine which forms the means of propulsion is of 500 horse-power. Accessory machinery, an air compressor supplying air pressure, and two electric generators charging the accumulator battery, are driven by the aeroplane motor. This is arranged in the arched fore-point of the car, feeding the lighting and compressor plant and supplying the current for an electric motor which drives the car when the main drive motor is out of action. Two independent braking devices are installed —an external compression brake operated page 22 pneumatically, and a hand brake for emergency use. The new German rail car is in many ways not unlike the “railplane” built in Glasgow by George Bennie. It is doubtful whether rail cars of these novel types will ever prove of real value in actual service, but experimental work such as this is useful in many directions, and the designer of the new German high-speed rail car is certainly to be congratulated upon his ingenuity. (An illustration of a car similar to the one here described was featured in our last issue.—Ed.)