Kubota RTV900 utility vehicles modified for rail use are helping Network Rail and railway support service company maintenance staff to operate more efficiently. Perhaps more usually found in agricultural, groundcare and estate environments, the utility vehicles are converted for rail use by Harsco Rail Ltd of Nottingham.
The first 10 of the specially adapted RTV900s were supplied last year to a number of companies including Network Rail and Amey. Network Rail has since ordered a further 22 of the modified machines for use on track maintenance support duties throughout the UK.
The RTV900s are used to move people and materials, proving more efficient than conventional equipment. The vehicles are also used off-rail to collect materials and tools from the line-side and were supplied to Harsco Rail by Kubota Tractor & Groundcare equipment dealer Farmstar Ltd from its Newark branch.
The RTV900s are modified for rail use by having rail wheels and rail guideline systems added to the front and back of the machines, with the electrics adapted to comply with rail safety standards.
Farmstar provides them without tipper bodies so that Harsco Rail can then convert them to personnel carriers capable of carrying up to six people; two in the front and four in the rear. The rear seating can easily be converted to take a 500kg payload when used in rail mode.
Their benefits as people and material carriers are further enhanced by their ability to tow up to four Harsco Rail specialist railway maintenance trailers and personnel carriers at a time, up to a maximum towing load of 6.5 tonnes.
Farmstar's Newark branch manager Simon Hall said: "Normally we sell the Kubota RTV900s for agricultural, groundcare and estate work, mainly to farmers and gamekeepers. Supplying them for use on the railways is a totally different area of business for us. We are delighted that the machines, which were selected by Network Rail as being the best for the job, are proving so successful on their rail maintenance duties."
Designed and built on tractor technology, the RTV900 is an extremely rugged machine that has set a new standard in all-terrain utility vehicles. It is powered by a Kubota 22hp three cylinder water-cooled diesel engine, easily accessible for servicing.
There are four standard RTV900 variants to choose from – General Purpose, Recreational, Worksite and Street Legal models – all featuring a unique transmission system, advanced automotive type suspension, power steering and the highest ground clearance in its class.