||Coenie van Der Walt, maintenance manager
at Rovos Rail, thinks
that Volvo Penta’s engines
are reliable and
The rail journeys promise passengers topclass comfort and style. To ensure that all these promises are kept and to provide air conditioning, underfloor heating, hot showers and other power-driven services, a special carriage, also
known as a power car, is also included. It carries Volvo Penta’s gen-sets, which have the task of producing electricity.
The relationship with Volvo Penta has been ongoing for more than a decade, with the first engines going into operation in 1999. The configuration for the power cars in which the gen-sets are located is typically one carriage with one prime unit and a second back-up unit installed. One gen-set runs continuously, but, should problems be encountered, Rovos Rail’s engineers have the option to switch over and the comfort of the passengers is not compromised.
There are five of these power cars in the Rovos fleet and, as maintenance manager, Coenie van der Walt explains, “All the stock is running and we have very few problems. The latest model is capable of running the auxiliary services for the whole train”. Coenie confirms that the Volvo Penta engines are reliable and fuel efficient, “We have calculated up to 20% fuel consumption savings with these units,” he comments.
“These engines are expected to run for 23,000 hours before they need overhauling or repairing.
This equates to more than 2.5 years of continuous running time,” he says. Coenie works closely with the general manager for Volvo Penta, Rudi Jones, on all sales, parts and service issues. The Volvo network of dealerships is situated on many of the routes covered by the Rovos Rail trains. Rovos Rail’s operation is a complex, multi-layered business. Founder and owner, Rohan Vos, strives to bring every aspect of purchasing, remodelling, refurbishing and maintenance under Rovos Rail’s control.
To achieve this, the business operates out of Capital Park Station, once the hub of steam locomotion in the old Transvaal, and employs engineers, technicians, carpenters and skilled workmen to keep the carriages, equipment and miscellaneous fittings up to standard. The steam locomotives are from a bygone era, but they can still convert 50,000 litres of water and 18 tonnes of coal into about 150-200 kilometres of 60 km an hour leisurely train travel. On the station, wooden panels were being sanded, doors planed, carriages cleaned and polished and fittings repaired. In a dedicated yard beyond
the platforms, a “scrap yard” of locomotives, wheels, engines and carriages were lined up neatly, all awaiting the attention of qualified technicians to bring them back to full life and function. A Volvo Penta engine that has done its time stands alongside a disused locomotive and Coenie tells us that he will soon overhaul the engine and re-install the switchgear to bring it back into service as a gen-set available for the operation. The yard is even fitted with huge lifting equipment capable of lifting a whole train carriage or locomotive to allow for access to the wheels and other undercarriage functions.