ROAD-TO-RAIL EXPERTS ARIES RAIL ON FAST TRACK WITH ALL-ISUZU HIRE FLEET

Nov 08, 2023 5min read

It’s no strange thing to see a truck rumbling down the highway—but how often do you see one rolling along a railway track?

With a slew of major infrastructure works getting underway across the country, it might just become a sight more common than you’d expect. It’s in this niche transport market that Aries Rail specialises with their Aries Hyrail brand of road rail conversion vehicles.

They come in a variety of shapes and forms: from utes and 4WDs through to light-duty maintenance trucks, all the way to larger crane trucks, tippers, tilt-trays and vacuum pumpers.

The Aries Rail Isuzu 6x4 FVY 240-300 hitting the asphalt

IN-DEMAND RIGS

Aries Rail Engineering Director Phil Gooch says current demand for their product is through the roof.

“A lot of the big tunnelling projects, particularly in Sydney and Brisbane, are desperate for vehicles that don’t exist; there’s just not a surplus of road rail trucks in the hire market in Australia.

“We know the quality of our product and technical compliance speaks for itself compared to what’s already out there in the hire space.

Aries Rail Electrical and Control Systems Manager Benjamin Stroud tests the capabilities of the Isuzu FVY 240-300

“For example, many of our clients need the flexibility to be able to pick up tools and equipment from a yard, drive from there to the rail, jump on the railway into the tunnel and get to where that work needs to happen,” he explained.

“We’ve responded to that demand by building a hire fleet of Isuzu trucks that can go on road and any rail network in Australia and be compliant with any standard across the network.”

TURNKEY PACKAGE

Within three years, Aries Rail have built quite the dry-hire cache. Now sitting at over 30 assets, a large proportion of these are Isuzu trucks converted for road and rail use.

The majority are Isuzu FVR, FVZ, FVY and FXY medium-duty trucks, modified with a strengthened chassis and rail suspension system, amongst other fittings.

“One of the reasons we specifically chose Isuzu’s FVY platform is that we needed a truck that could run a different type of rail axle that can handle both broad and narrow gauges,” Phil explained.

“We needed a combination of engine power to drive the rail wheels, payload for the equipment and also the correct chassis length… the FVY sits perfectly amongst all these criteria.” With an on-road Gross Vehicle Mass of 24,000 kg, the 6x4 FVY 240-300 can carry serious weight. Under the hood, an Isuzu 6HK1-TCS turbocharged engine produces 221 kW (300 PS) @ 2,400 rpm of power and torque of 981 Nm @ 1,450 rpm, matching the specific requirements they need to power the rail wheels.

A generous payload is available despite the extra mass of the rail equipment, ensuring the FVY reliably meets the brief for carrying either heavy maintenance tools, equipment, or loads of debris from construction worksites along the nations’ railway networks.

BREADTH OF CHOICE

Further to the FVY’s suitability for their requirements, Phil says it’s Isuzu’s comprehensive model range that offers flexibility in developing vehicles to round-out their burgeoning hire fleet.

“We’ve worked with many different truck manufacturers over the years, and it was a no-brainer to go with Isuzu when we were looking at our own fleet,” he said.

“Our experience is that they’re robust for pretty much any application.

“We have only one truck that is between jobs at the moment, all the others have been on hire almost from the day they were built!”

Using the rugged Isuzu cab chassis platform, Aries Rail have created a turnkey package which is attractive to clients, cutting down what has traditionally been a lengthy weight time.

Though this doesn’t mean the complex custom builds have gone out the window—the team pump out around a dozen custom-builds per year and have a long prospective client list. Currently, Aries Rail is in the process of building four Isuzu NPS 75-155 4x4 narrow gauge maintenance vehicles and a new FSR 140-260—to name just a few—for transport networks from Western Australia over to the east coast of Queensland.

MEETING COMPLIANCE STANDARDS

When it comes to getting a vehicle registered as a piece of railway rolling stock, Phil cites a long list of challenges including the usual Australian Design Rules (ADR), alongside National Australian Rail standards and different requirements from a dozen rail networks across the country.

Throw in the additional problem of rail width gauges that vary from state-to-state and it’s a pocket full of engineering joys.

To help them navigate issues such as weight compliance, Isuzu Australia Limited’s engineering team are willing to go the extra mile.

“Jeff Gibson (IAL Product Manager, Light-Duty and Ready-to-Work) and Simon Humphries (IAL Chief Engineer) have been very supportive,” said Phil.

“They help us with CAD modelling and drawings and will pick up the phone to have a chat with us when we’re doing something like an in-depth chassis analysis.

“The dealerships at Major Motors in Perth and Brisbane Isuzu in Queensland have also been helpful.

“Maintaining the consistency of our design and service and ensuring the reliability of trucks is critical at this time as we build the hire fleet,” he continued.

“We will lean on our relationship with Isuzu Trucks and their product range to assist us in this.”

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