Innovation VGF

Track painting machine

White paint to protect against heat damage

Steel is robust, but not indestructible. For example, railway tracks react to high temperatures and can expand. On hot summer days, temperatures of up to 60 degrees Celsius have been measured in places where tracks are exposed to extreme heat from the sun. These extremely high temperatures cause tension on the tracks, so-called “track buckling”, which in the worst case can lead to a derailment of trains.

One way to lower the temperature of the tracks is to paint the steel with white paint. VGF has been using this “trick” for several years and has already been able to protect highly exposed track sections from excessive self-heating. The paint was applied by hand.

In 2020, a machine was used for the first time to facilitate this work. It was developed by VGF employee Kurt Landau, who has been working as a fitter in the VGF “Track” department for many years and who built “his” track painting machine together with colleagues in just two weeks. A spraying device was clamped into a self-welded metal frame, which sprays the white acrylic paint specifically onto the rail sides at the push of a button, thereby saving a lot of time.

Other advantages of the machine include the fact that it is small and light. It is also battery-operated and thus environmentally friendly and quiet. Two people can easily lift it onto the track, where it then only needs to be operated by one person.

Other parts of the public transport infrastructure can also suffer from excessively high temperatures. Computers that control the tram switches are housed in control cabinets along the lines. Sometimes they were painted a discreet dark grey and thus heat up considerably in record summers such as 2018. The computers inside the cabinets can tolerate temperatures of 60 degrees, but VGF has measured temperatures of 62 to 63 degrees on individual components – despite the existing ventilation in the cabinets.

Here, too, a simple trick helps: a coat of white paint.