Have you ever wondered what it takes to keep a high-speed train running smoothly? Look no further than the Sapsan – the Russian high-speed train that is the longest of its kind. Based on the ICE 3, this gigantic machine travels at over 250 kilometers per hour and has become a true long-distance specialist.
But after 1.2 million kilometers, each Sapsan is due for its big R3-revision. Since the Sapsan trains have only been launched in 2009, it’s the first time ever that a Russian high-speed train returns to the depot for the biggest overhaul in its entire life span.
The maintenance process is rigorous – every single part of the train is inspected and, if necessary, replaced. A highlight of the revision: disassembling and replacing the bogies. A critical part of the procedure, the bogies are essential to passenger safety. At 8 to 12 tons each, they have to be handled by hand! To do so, the massive train is separated into two halves, and now, five coaches (which means: 125 meters!) have to be lifted at a time. It’s a delicate maneuver, and all of the massive carriage jacks have to work accurately to a millimeter so that the heavy train won’t buckle sideways.
To meet the incredibly tight schedule of only 34 days, every little detail of the R3 needs precise planning beforehand. “Smaller” repairs such as the change of pantographs or substitutions of interior can be quite time-consuming. To double-up the speed of the R3, the engineers work parallel on both halves of the train, before the Sapsan gets a brand new painting in the end.
If you’re interested in the inner workings of high-speed trains and want an even closer look at the maintenance process, we highly recommend watching the documentary on this topic.