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Scharfenberg Energy Absorption

Safety at all Events.

Scharfenberg Energy Absorption. Guarantees more protection.

Safety in railcars is assured mainly by energy absorption. The best possible degree of safety, even in exceptional situations, can only be guaranteed by energy absorption systems that are synchronized precisely with each other and adapted to their intended purpose.

For this, we develop comprehensive systems for the entire frontal energy absorption area on railcars. When combined practically, as in the case of the Talgo 250, it is possible to offset enormous forces.


Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA

Gottfried-Linke-Straße 205 38239 Salzgitter, Germany


t +49 5341 21-02

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Energy Absorption at the Coupling (Railcar)

The main part of energy absorption through the coupler takes place in the coupler shank. Energy absorption features integrated here may be reversible (buffers) or irreversible (deformation tubes), with different characteristics. A deformation tube, for example, can absorb high energy, but needs to be replaced once it has been activated. Deformation tubes are also available in a rear-mounted version. These are not part of the coupler shank, but mounted on the rear end of the bearing bracket, behind the coupler’s mounting plate.

The drawgear articulation may also contain certain energy absorption capacities, mostly in form of rubber elements (example: rubber cushion drawgear). These are mainly designed for absorbing impacts which occur during train operation, for example when a train starts or stops. Here, the main goal are smoother driving characteristics.

Coupling Bar

Collapsible Tube: Non-Regenerating Energy Absorption

Collapsible Tube: Non-Regenerating Energy Absorption

  • Defined release load without load peak
  • Maximum energy absorption by rectangular curve
  • Optimally used in combination with rubber cushion drawgear

The collapsible tube converts the energy of a collision destructively into deformation energy by mechanically expanding a tube. The collapsible tube is either integrated in the coupler or positioned behind the drawgear as overload protection.

Hydrostatic Buffer: Regenerative Energy Absorption

Hydrostatic Buffer: Regenerative Energy Absorption

  • Linearly ascending curve
  • Preloaded system acting in the direction of pressure
  • Optimally used in combination with rubber cushion drawgear

The hydrostatic buffer converts energy regeneratively in the direction of pressure. The release load may vary depending on the preload. This buffer, which functions by the displacement of liquid, is combined with a rubber cushion drawgear.

Gas Hydraulic Buffer: Regenerative Energy Absorption

Gas Hydraulic Buffer: Regenerative Energy Absorption

  • Reaction depending on speed
  • Preloaded system that functions in the tension and compression directions
  • Most effective when combines with spherical bearing

The preloaded system consisting of a gas-hydraulic buffer combined with a friction spring regeneratively transforms tension and compression loads. An internal valve, which reverses in the event of overload, ensures that no liquid is lost and the buffer's full range of travel remains usable

TwinStroke Buffer: Regenerative Energy Absorption in Both Directions

TwinStroke Buffer: Regenerative Energy Absorption in Both Directions

  • Compact size
  • Reduced weight
  • Low procurement costs
  • Few wearing parts
  • Increased energy absorption, even in the case of load change stress

The TwinStroke buffer dampens both tension and compression forces without additional functional elements: A sophisticated piston system working in a gas-hydraulic medium transfers the tension and compression forces into different gas and oil chambers. In this way, any load is compensated quickly and with minimal wear.

Drawgear Articulation

Rubber Cushion Drawgear with Shear-off Feature under Excessive Load
Rubber Cushion Drawgear with Shear-off Feature under Excessive Load

Rubber Cushion Drawgear with and without Shear-off Feature

The rubber cushion drawgear is a bearing bracket with integrated cushioning unit. Comprising either two or three rubber elements, the rubber cushion drawgear compensates both tensile and compressive loads and can be individually adapted to its purpose.

Additionally, it can feature a shear-off solution. If the maximum load is exceeded, the screws fixing the cushioning unit shear off, and the whole coupler pushes rearwards under the carbody in a controlled way.

Bearing Bracket with Downstream Deformation Tube, Centring Device and Support
Bearing Bracket with Downstream Deformation Tube, Centring Device and Support

Bearing Bracket

The bearing bracket represents the most straight-forward type of drawgear articulation: It is combined with a coupler shank featuring a spherical bearing to allow cardanic coupler moves. Just like the rubber cushion drawgear, the bearing bracket can feature an internal shear-off solution as overload protection.

If further energy absorption is required, the bearing bracket can be fitted with a rear-mounted (downstream) deformation tube with defined response characteristics. Any impact exceeding the absorption capacity of the coupler will result in a shearingoff, pushing the coupler rearwards through the deformation tube at a constant force level.

Rubber Cushion Articulation
Rubber Cushion Articulation

Rubber Ring / Rubber Cushion Articulation

The rubber ring articulation is best suited for a narrow train front offering only small mounting dimensions. Being located on both sides – in front of and behind – the coupler mounting plate, the rubber rings cushion impacts in the direction of both compression and tension. They possess a softly rising force stroke curve and thus increase travelling comfort.

Based on the rubber ring principle, the rubber cushion articulation features rectangular rubber elements. They function as anti-rotation device, while at the same time allowing a high degree of cardanic moves.

These drawgear articulations can also be designed as overload protection solutions.

Energy Absorption Outside the Coupling (Railcars and Locomotives)

Above certain speeds or loads, it is necessary to implement additional energy absorption elements on the vehicle besides couplings. In this way, we are improving the passive safety of railcars and locomotives. According to DIN EN 15227 (Crashworthiness requirements for railway vehicle bodies), it is mandatory to ensure that on mainline rail vehicles impacts up to 36 km/h are compensated. We satisfy this requirement.

Our Scharfenberg crash buffers, crash elements and crashboxes afford the maximum possible protection according to the requirement and application. These elements can also be used in conjunction with other anti-climbing protection measures.

GFRP Energy Absorber

Energy absorbers serve to transform the crash energy generated during an impact and thus allow the best possible protection for both passengers and rolling stock. The light-weight energy absorber designed by Voith Turbo Scharfenberg can constitute one part of a solution meeting the current European standards EN 15227 and EN 12663.

It is characterised by a low total weight and a constant energy absorption behaviour. This results in a high energy absorption capacity and a remarkable energy to weight ratio. Furthermore, the use of aluminium and glasfibre-reinforced plastics reduces keeps corrosion at a minimum.

Energy Absorption Elements

Depending on the application and energy absorption required, other energy absorption elements can be individually adapted and fitted.

Either mounted in addition to the coupling - as in the case of the Talgo 250 - or in combination with UIC side buffers on the locomotive superstructure.

Rail Service

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