Expertorial: Worldwide on Track with ZF Technology


ZF is a global technology company supplying systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology, enabling the next generation of mobility. With its rail vehicle technology, ZF is your reliable partner for the journey into the future on rails. The company is one of the world’s technology leaders in the area of driveline, chassis and safety technology. It offers components and systems which make railway traffic more powerful while also supporting increased passenger safety and comfort. Based on over 90 years of the Group’s experience, manufacturers and operators of rail vehicles can profit from innovative and sustainable solutions for the mobility of today and tomorrow.

At APTA EXPO 2023, ZF shows trendsetting driveline, chassis and safety systems for rail vehicles, as well as its digital condition monitoring solutions.

ZF Solutions for the Future of Mobility on Rails

What manufacturers and operators of rail vehicles expect in the future is already a reality in the form of ZF products: increased driving comfort and safety with less fuel consumption and lower emissions. Highly integrated products and systems expertise are the key to this. All driveline components are provided from a single source. The weight-optimized precision components can be combined to suit different performance classes. With innovative solutions and digital services ZF further supports rail operators in ­permanent monitoring, early maintenance planning and predictive maintenance of their fleets.

Driveline and Chassis Technology for Rail Vehicles

As a leader for modern driveline technology, ZF guarantees tangible ­customer value and ZF engineers develop pioneering technologies. This approach results in low vehicle weight, greater ride comfort and safety as well as reduced fuel consumption and lower emission levels. Modern chassis technology for rail vehicles should be quiet, comfortable, reliable and environment-friendly. No easy undertaking when you consider the inherent technical challenges. The high quality of the ZF damper models guarantees maximum service life and therefore maximum cost-efficiency.

EcoMet: The Modular Gearbox Family for Metros and Commuters

ZF puts its many years of experience in rail vehicle drives into practice with the EcoMet and simultaneously sets a new benchmark for metro and commuter gearboxes. This new, modular product was created for vehicle manufacturers that want to achieve great performance while providing robust and economic vehicles.

EcoWorld: Six Speeds and Integrated Reversing Function

ZF’s recent development, the EcoWorld powershift transmission, features six speeds, an integrated reversing function and is used in DMUs (Diesel Multiple Units) and MPVs (Multiple Purpose Vehicles). It enables a towing function, as well as a coasting function which can save additional fuel depending on the route, engine type and load condition. EcoWorld can be used for new vehicles or for the field of repowering. ZF’s transmission is also ready for hybrid applications.

Connectivity Solutions

ZF develops and produces intelligent, sustainable solutions for the complex requirements of modern mobility. The next generation of driveline, chassis, and safety systems, expanded by intelligent connectivity solutions, provides more performance and cost-effectiveness. Together with partners, ZF shapes the innovative path into the future of mobility.

connect@rail: The condition monitoring platform for rail vehicles and infrastructure

connect@rail combines digital know-how and intelligent connectivity solutions for rail transport. With innovative solutions, monitoring systems, and digital services, ZF support rail operators in ­permanent monitoring, early maintenance planning and predictive maintenance of their fleets. Thus, efficiency, reliability and safety in rail transportation can be further increased thanks to integrated sensors and advanced data analysis tools. The Infrastructure and Driveline Monitoring for predictive maintenance planning and the Smart Identification for an efficient fleet management are part of the innovative condition monitoring system connect@rail.

ZF on Track in the United States

For ZF’s latest project in the United States, the company will produce a newly developed two-stage spur gear drive for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The first units will be delivered in April 2024 and will celebrate their premiere in Hitachi Rail’s new WMATA 8000 series of vehicles. Tailored to the US rail network’s specific requirements from its earliest conceptual design, the new transmission is certain to impress with its high efficiency, low weight, and optimized smooth running.

This is not the first metro project, ZF is working on for the US market: To name some of the previous achievements in the US, ZF has equipped metros in Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, Baltimore, and Honolulu.

Peter Harper, Product Line Manager Rail Drive Systems for North America and Central America at ZF

ZF Group