OVK com­missioned the new TikhvinKhimMash (TKhM) factory, at Tikhvin, designed for the building of tank wagons, with an output capacity of up to 3,600 annually. Construction of the works, which took two years, was financially backed by the Ministry of Economic Development and the Industry Development Fund, while the Ministry of Finance provided a State-level guarantee.

Construction involved the participa­tion of over 20 sub-suppliers of equip­ment from Europe and America. One of the main features of the factory is its reliance on automation and the use of industrial robots. The produc­tion lines can be modified to take into account the diverse characteristics of different tank wagon models and va­riants, over 15 of which are envisaged.

The production of prototypes started in summer 2015. The photo, taken on 10 September 2015, shows one of these, built there in August. The wagon has a loading capacity of 671 and a loading volume of 88 m3. It is destined for Metafraks of Gubakha (around 200 km northeast of Perm), the largest Russian manufacturer and exporter of methanol. This TKhM’s first contract involves 105 of these and other types of tank wagon intended for the transport of methanol and its derivatives, the design having been developed jointly with Metafraks.

The wagons have a maximum service speed of 120 km/h and a lifespan of 32 years. They will have improved eco­nomic and operational characteristics compared with existing tank wagons. The tank cylinder is slightly kinked, with its lowest point in the centre, facilitating complete draining of the payload through an aperture situated at the lowest point. Protective fittings are provided to make the transport of payloads safe.

The tank wagons are mounted on bogies designed for a 25 t axle-load, enabling loading capacity to be increased from 65 to 67 t for use on lines with a 1-T loading gauge (this is the GOST stan­dard valid for rolling stock used only on 1,520 mm gauge lines) and to 71.5 t for lines with a larger Tpr loading gauge. The tank volume has been increased from 85 m3 to 88 m3 for lines with a 1-T loading gauge and to 94 m3 for those with a Tpr loading gauge. Certification by RS FZhT is expected to be granted sometime in 2016, and deliveries are to take place during the remainder of the year.

Metafraks currently has around 900 tank wagons designed for methanol transport. The new acquisitions will re­place around 20% of the ageing mem­bers of this fleet. The company is also considering the acquisition of a batch of Model 15-6900-01 tank wagons. These will have stainless steel tanks and are thus suitable for the transport of technical formalin (awater-methanol solution of formaldehyde).

TKhM built its first small batches of tank wagons, Model 15-9545, for SUMZ (Sredneuralsky medeplavilny zavod, Mid-Urals Copper Smelter), based in Revda, around 50 km west of Yeka­terinburg, and for Polyarnaya gruzovaya kompaniya of Yekaterinburg (Polar Freight Company, established in 2011). These wagons intended for the transport of sulphuric acid, and both clients have options for more, SUMZ’s option being for up to 200 wagons.

They have for a top service speed of 120 km/h, and are mounted on Barber bogies, designed for a 25 t axle-load. The wagons are 12,020 mm long over couplings, weigh 22.7 t tare, have a loading volume of 44 m3 and can carry payloads of up to 77 t (10 % more than in the tank wagons in use at pre­sent).

OVK specialists reckon that around 40 % of all tank wagons in Russia de­signed for the transport of chemicals (around 15,000 vehicles) will be life-expired by 2020. In the past Ukrainian works supplied a large number of tank wagons to Russia, but in 2014 deliveries from Ukrainian manufacturers ceased. There was very little fleet rejuvenation during the period after 2000. Further orders are anticipated, since most tank wagons were built during the Soviet era and are now ageing. Another innovation at TKhM is planned - articulated tank wagons, which hitherto are not manu­factured in Russia or in any other CIS countries.