Engine/powertrain

We have a global team of over 800 engines engineers with experience delivering complete turnkey projects covering rolling stock from DMUs to locomotives.


Existing diesel powertrain improvement

The prospect of extending powertrain life while achieving modern standards of service reliability and maintenance costs is a compelling one for the rail industry. In many cases existing locomotives and multiple units have evolved from their original design as new technology has been introduced, and a systems approach to design is not considered because each evolution is seen as small. However, the cumulative effect can lead to significant inefficiency in the overall system. Ricardo has highly sophisticated systems integration skills that, when applied to existing rail vehicles, can yield significant performance improvements and cost savings.

Effective and value-enhancing diesel improvement services for rail

  • Development and improvement of existing powertrains
  • Introducing new but fully qualified suppliers to rail industry customers
  • Optimization of powertrain production and whole life costs
  • System analysis and engineering of powertrain and related vehicle and electrical systems, to identify key areas of inefficiency and redundancy based on known duty cycles and operational loads
  • Fuel economy modelling and optimization of both new vehicle designs and existing fleets

Reducing diesel rail vehicle emissions

Ricardo is a leader in medium-duty engine development for commercial vehicle and off-highway markets, providing class-leading low emissions and high performance, fuel-efficient and robust technologies and new engine designs to customers on a global basis. With its portfolio of available technologies, Ricardo is ideally placed to assist rail customers to comply with emission regulations while minimizing aftertreatment sub-system package space, weight and operating costs.

Achieving emissions compliance in a practical and cost-optimal manner for rail

  • Optimizing the emissions technology solutions
  • Application of proprietary Ricardo technologies, such as the ultra-low particulate twin vortex combustion system
  • Comprehensive emissions development testing facilities
  • Access to advanced proprietary software for combustion system development
  • One of the world’s leading development teams for this class of diesel power system

Reducing rolling stock fuel consumption

Ricardo is a world leader in the fields of both state-of-the-art, high fuel economy diesel power systems research, design, validation and manufacturing implementation, and the in-service improvement of existing systems for maximum fuel efficiency. With extensive experience in both rail propulsion and on-road systems, Ricardo is ideally placed to assist rail operators and rolling stock manufacturers seeking to reduce fuel cost.

Key Ricardo service areas

  • Access to one of the world’s leading design teams for medium- and heavy duty diesel power systems and components
  • An unparalleled global capacity for state-of-the-art engine product development from fundamentally new concept designs and upgrades to existing designs for performance and/or emissions improvements, through to turnkey new product development and manufacturing implementation programmes
  • Full capability, including the latest hybrid technology and energy storage solutions
  • Longstanding experience in rail propulsion and ability to deliver extremely fast timescales of programme delivery without compromising quality and durability
  • Powertrain weight and efficiency optimization — a strong analytical approach to engine design and performance assessment, reducing testing requirements and component design iterations
  • Access to proprietary design software and comprehensive prototype production, development testing and validation facilities
  • Fully flexible engineering resource and programme management expertise tailored to the needs of each client — enabling rapid programme start, minimum slippage and full achievement of both product and technology transfer objectives

Engine warranty management

With comparatively low fleet numbers, rail applications of on-board diesel power are not usually served by rail-specific engine designs. With many potential conflicts between standard warranty terms and rail needs, this situation can be challenging for both train builders and operators. Ricardo can bring significant value and cost savings through its extensive relationships with the world’s leading engine manufacturers, accessing new engines for rail applications and managing warranty processes on behalf of our clients.

Key Ricardo service areas

  • Technology assessment of supply base
  • Re-design and upgrade of non-rail engines for locomotive and multiple unit application
  • Sharp focus on reduced overhaul costs and inventory holding
  • Improved fuel consumption and compliance with the latest emissions regulations
  • Standardization of components and sub-systems
  • Warranty management of engines and associated systems

Powertrain failure analysis and rectification

Most rail vehicle operators can diagnose and rectify simple faults efficiently, but the failure modes with uncertain root causes often take too long to diagnose because they are beyond the scope of standard maintenance resource levels. Ricardo has amongst the most extensive independent powertrain test facilities and engineering teams worldwide, and is able to deliver focused and effective investigations in almost all sub-systems in locomotives and multiple units.

Effective powertrain failure investigation and problem resolution

  • Root cause analysis
  • Component or system re-design
  • Provision of effective solutions
  • Access to state-of-the-art software tools and testing facilities
  • Static running tests and operational vibration analysis performed on track in both towed and driven configurations
  • Successful track record of failure investigation and problem resolution

Contact us

To find out more about Ricardo Rail and the services we offer, or if you are thinking about a career with us, please get in touch. We are always keen to hear from others with an interest in the rail sector.​