MRO Magazine

True giants: Lifting jacks for train maintenance have capacity of 520 tons

Kissing, France -- On average, a French TGV train travels about 50,000 kilometres per month. Each of these high-speed trains is given a technical check-up after 5,000 kilometres. This takes place in facilities such as the state-of-the-art...

Kissing, France — On average, a French TGV train travels about 50,000 kilometres per month. Each of these high-speed trains is given a technical check-up after 5,000 kilometres. This takes place in facilities such as the state-of-the-art “Technicentre de Lyon-Gerland,” which was recently equipped with 26 lifting jacks and two spare jacks by Kissing-based Pfaff-silberblau Verkehrstechnik for the French state railway SNCF.

The lifting jacks that were installed are true giants at over six metres in height, and are used to lift any kind of TGV by up to 4.4 metres over its entire length of 200 metres – in compliance with the most stringent of safety standards and with optimum operating convenience.

Ergonomic and efficient working

The king-size lifting jacks for SNCF have been custom-made in accordance with extremely high demands with regard to manufacturing and assembly. Each of the lifting jacks has load-bearing capacity of 20 tons, resulting in a total load-bearing capacity of 520 tons. The jacking height is variable between 1,000 mm and 4,400 mm, which therefore allows the engineers to work beneath the train in a comfortable ergonomic position.


The jacking speed varies between 390 mm/min. and 780 mm/min. and is regulated using powerful frequency-converter control. Time can be saved during the working procedure because of the extremely fast speeds, whereas the slow speeds ensure that the load is put down in precisely the right position.

The lifting jacks operate synchronously, and are equipped with appropriate synchronization control, which provides automatic correction in the event of a deviation of +/- 3 mm. Maximum safety is provided by special PLC technology.

Convenient operation

The operation of the system is extremely convenient at every stage of the train maintenance process: The jacking itself, the raising and movement of the lifting jacks and the load arm adjustment (even under load) are fully motorized.

This means that the load arms can be adjusted by +/- 50 mm sideways at any height, even under load. For example, this function is used for millimetre accurate insertion of new bogies in cases where different bogie dimensions have to be compensated for when they are re-inserted. Adjustment takes place at the touch of a button with the aid of an electric drive – which makes the procedure much easier than manual operation. Moving the load arm by up to 750 mm is just as easy and ergonomic: Motorized adjustment is possible at any height, including the uppermost positions.

The electric rail travelling mechanism of the lifting jacks also comes from Pfaff-silberblau Verkehrstechnik. The giants can simply be moved along the rail using this mechanism, and accurately positioned at the jacking points. Before moving sideways, the travelling mechanism lifts the column from the floor using a hydraulic pump at the push of a button and positions it parallel to the train. The auxiliary rail system for moving the lifting jacks was also installed by Pfaff-silberblau, including the required foundation work.

Secure in every position

All jacking systems from Pfaff-silberblau Verkehrstechnik comply with the safety standard for vehicle jacking platforms DIN EN 1493:2011-02. Flashing warning lights and an acoustic signal notify the maintenance personnel and anyone else who is in the hall that the jacking procedure is in progress. Intercom systems fitted to each lifting jack allow the engineers to communicate with each other conveniently and without unnecessary time delays.

The entire system is centrally controlled via a main control panel. A large graphical display shows all operating conditions in real time and makes operation easy and convenient. Additional safety is provided by means of video monitoring: Three cameras along the entire length of the jacking system record all movements in this area.

With this installation of the jacking system in Lyon, Pfaff-silberblau Verkehrstechnik extends its continuation of many years of collaboration with SNCF. At the start of 2009, the company equipped the TGV plant in Lyon with a state-of-the-art bogie dropping table and the SNCF maintenance plant in Nevers with a large lifting jack system within the scope of a large order.

About Pfaff-silberblau Verkehrstechnik

Pfaff-silberblau Verkehrstechnik GmbH & Co. KG is an affiliated company of Columbus McKinnon Engineered Products GmbH, which is also based in Kissing, under the umbrella of American company Columbus McKinnon.

As well as supplying transportation components, Pfaff-silberblau Verkehrstechnik primarily supplies complete planning, installation and maintenance of turnkey jacking systems for rail vehicles. Pfaff-silberblau jacking systems are used worldwide in locations such as Montreal/Canada, Guangzhou/China, Taipei/Taiwan, Madrid/Spain and Vienna/Austria.

More information about the services and products of Pfaff-silberblau Verkehrstechnik can be found at