Once its correct performance has been certified, the new equipment will allow Talgo variable gauge’s trains to travel between the Belarusian network’s tracks, which have Russian gauge (1,520 mm), and the Polish network’s tracks, which are UIC standard gauge (1,435 mm).
This will enable Talgo variable gauge’s trains to provide international services between Moscow, Minsk, Warsaw and Berlin changing the track gauge at Brest automatically in a few minutes and without stopping the train. This eliminates the current need to swap bogies, a practice that causes delays of up to two hours at the border.
This is the first time Talgo’s RD system, used to change automatically the distance between the wheels of the axles, is installed for commercial operation outside Spain. This system allows rail vehicles to operate on lines with different track gauges: metric (1,000 mm), standard (1,435 mm), Russian (1,520 mm) and Iberian (1,668 mm).
The system, which was developed in 1968 to facilitate rail traffic between Spain and France preventing the transfer of passengers at the border, can be used both on motor bogies and bogies without traction, as well as Talgo trucks.
Wheelbase change operation is performed automatically, without direct human intervention, the train passage at a speed of 10 or 15 km/h over a special assembly located on tracks with a different gauge.
The installation, like the one currently being implemented in Brest, is a 12 metre-long assembly, which means that an axle passage time therein, that is, the time spent on the wheelbase change operation, is about 5 seconds.