“Toot-toot” without any exhaust gases: Electric locomotive in nostalgic look
The oldest people mover at Europa-Park, the historic Panorama Train, is saying goodbye to the internal combustion engine. The switch to environmentally friendly electrification is taking place at the most modern level. In addition to the drive technology, MOVITRANS® spot contactless charging technology, energy storage units and control technology from SEW-EURODRIVE are used. The look and sound of the nostalgic steam experience is preserved, but without the problems posed by the internal combustion engines that were previously used.
The project at a glance
- Customer: Europa-Park GmbH & Co Mack KG
- Location: Rust (Germany)
- Sector: Entertainment industry
- Application: Panorama Train
Further details about Europa-Park:
- Family business (the Mack family, now in the 8th generation)
- Originally intended as an exhibition area for the amusement rides produced by the parent company, Mack
- Visitors: Over 5.7 million annually
- Total area: 950 000 square meters
- Number of employees: 3600 in the park during the season
- Apprentices: More than 100
- 1975: Opening on the 160 000 square meter site of Balthasar Castle
- 1975: The first amusement rides: Panorama Train, African Queen paddle steamer and Silverstone Race Track car driving
- 1978: First million visitors
- 1982: Italy heralds the start of the Europe concept as the first theme. This is followed by 14 other countries to date (Holland 1984, England 1988, France 1990, Scandinavia 1992, Austria 1992, Switzerland 1993, Spain 1994, Germany 1996, Russia 1998, Greece 2000, Portugal 2005, Iceland 2009, Luxembourg 2016, Ireland 2016)
- 1984: First roller coaster (Alpenexpress “Enzian”)
- 1995: First hotel
- 2019: Rulantica water park
- Environmentally friendly conversion of the railway
- Conversion during ongoing operation
- Sustainable power supply
- Rapid availability of spare parts whenever service is required
- Short charging times
- Nostalgic appearance of the railway should be preserved
- High safety
Decentralized contactless charging technology and decentralized drive technology
- Mobile components on the locomotive:
- MOVI-DPS® energy storage system
- Safe two-channel disconnection of the system with UCS10B safety controller
- 4 MOVIGEAR® MGF..-DSM.. drive units on the locomotive
- MOVIDRIVE® modular application inverter in the driver’s cab
- Stationary components in each of the four stations:
- 4 MOVITRANS® spot TFS field plates per station in the floor between the rails
- 4 MOVITRANS® spot TES supply units per station in the control cabinet next to the track
- Operation without the use of fossil fuels and without fuel costs
- Visitors can enjoy the ride without smelling exhaust gases, and there are no odor problems
- Battery-free electric operation without conductor rails or overhead lines
- Fast charging in the station takes only one minute while the passengers are disembarking and boarding
- The absorbed energy supplies all electrical loads on the train, including nostalgic light, sound and steam effects or elaborate lighting during the Christmas period
- Improved workplace ergonomics for train drivers
- The remaining trains with internal combustion engines can continue to run as normal on the same track during the changeover
- Significantly reduced maintenance costs
- Fast service even on weekends
Tradition and modernity are not a contradiction
The Panorama Train at Europa-Park in Rust, in the southern Baden region of Germany, is now more than 45 years old; intelligent and sustainable electrification not only makes it environmentally friendly, but also more attractive. The people mover is one of the oldest attractions on the extensive premises, and one of the amusement park’s first amusement rides. For visitors of all ages, this means unadulterated nostalgia. People like to use the historic lazy train for an attractive sightseeing tour through the park. Or they board, without long waiting times, to travel from country to country in complete relaxation over a distance of 1.8 kilometers.
This tradition needs to be respected, even if the age of electric mobility is now making inroads into the nostalgia. The individual solution in the form of a drive and automation package including contactless charging technology and decentralized energy supply was developed at SEW-EURODRIVE and implemented in close cooperation with the Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering departments of the Europa-Park. The conversion of the first locomotive took place while the amusement park was in operation. This means that the remaining diesel or petrol-engined trains continued to run regularly on the same track.
The first amusement ride powered by electricity and without CO2 emissions – all in black-and-red livery – has been successfully making its rounds since the 2019 winter season. Another train with an electric steam locomotive followed in the 2020 summer season, to the delight of passengers. There are plans to gradually retrofit the remaining trains with our pioneering environmentally friendly drive technology as well.
Quote from Steffen Kasten, operations manager at the Europa-Park
SEW-EURODRIVE has already helped us several times at the weekend.
We had been considering switching from the classic energy sources of diesel and petrol to electricity for some time. Engines powered by fossil fuels are high-maintenance, problematic in terms of spare parts procurement, incur ever-increasing fuel costs and produce exhaust gases. These in turn are a problem for train drivers and passengers.
… The Europa-Park has a total of 65 amusement rides – with an availability of 99.7 percent. This can only be achieved with strong partners and by keeping a lot of parts in stock. SEW-EURODRIVE has already helped us several times at the weekend.
Quotation from Dr. Hans Krattenmacher, managing director Mechatronic Innovation at SEW-EURODRIVE
Project with great potential for both partners
In the case of the panorama train, the focus in particular is on combining various new developments and existing products in one system. Collaborating with Europa-Park is therefore a reference project with great potential for us worldwide.
Quotation from Bertwin Ley, Technical Office Karlsruhe, customer service representative at SEW-EURODRIVE for the Europa-Park
Several departments at SEW-EURODRIVE worked together on the sustainable conversion of the train. Many of the required parts were developed completely new especially for the project. The new findings gathered in the process will be incorporated into ongoing product innovations.
Quotation from Dominik Gläßer, field service representative (Technical Office Mannheim), project manager
“Filling up” with 700 kilowatt seconds within one minute
While passengers are boarding or disembarking at the station, around 700 kilowatt seconds are “filled” within 60 seconds. The amount of energy absorbed in the double-layer capacitors of the MOVI-DPS® accumulators during the stop in the station is easily sufficient until recharging at the next station.
Impressions of the project
The project in detail
One of the oldest amusement rides switches to electric mobility
“Age & Size: min. 0 years, min. 0 cm”
“Experience: Level 1: Cozy, relaxed”
This is the matter-of-fact information you can read on the Europa-Park website about what is probably one of the most used attractions there.
The Panorama Train is one of the first rides that visitors reach shortly after they enter via the Deutsche Allee. If you would like to immerse yourself in the world of amusement and enjoy the view of the varied themed landscape while pottering gently along at 10 km/h, you can start the day with your kit and caboodle on one of these trains. A whole circuit around the rail track through the park takes about 15 minutes. But you can also reach England, Spain and Russia in intervals of about 5 minutes each and make a stop there. Each of the five trains currently offers 86 seats. This means up to 1750 passengers can embark on the tour every hour.
For more than 40 years, the lazy train has run through the extensive premises, steaming and puffing with diesel or petrol in the tank. Now, the first two locomotives have already been converted to electric drive technology and a sustainable power supply. Exhaust gases and the corresponding bad smells caused by the internal combustion engines are now a thing of the past on these trains. What remains is the authentic lazy train ambiance with steam generated purely from water. A sensory experience that hardly any passenger would want to do without.
Use of fossil fuels no longer fits the claim of sustainability
No visitor can fail to notice the huge solar panel array installed on the approximately 300-meter-long covered footpath stretching from the car park to the park entrance. Above that, while passengers are riding the Silver Star roller coaster and screaming with delight, screens along the walkway provide information about the amusement park’s sustainable energy management. The carport roof on the parking lot of the Rulantica water world also contributes to the renewable power supply from 3000 solar modules.
Energy recovery next to the Hansel & Gretel enchanted forest is anything but a fairytale. There, electricity comes from a run-of-river hydroelectric power plant. The park’s own combined heat and power plants supply energy not only in the form of electricity, but also heat.
This makes the Europa-Park more or less self-sufficient as far as energy recovery is concerned. So, it makes sense to use the energy for operating the historic Panorama Trains as well.
Electrical operation via batteries is not an option
At the time of the park’s founding, the lazy train was still called the Western Train. This is because the associated traction engines were built by an American company and are modeled on a miniature version of the steam locomotive from the early days of the USA. Although this original manufacturer now also offers electrified trains, they run on electric motors combined with lithium-ion batteries. This technology makes it necessary to charge the batteries via conductor rails.
Conductor rail or overhead lines, however, are out of the question for the amusement park with its many level crossings that are heavily frequented by streams of visitors. Moreover, this technology would be too expensive not only to purchase, but also to operate and maintain.
So it was a good thing that the Europa-Park maintains close ties with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and regularly assigns master’s theses. In this case, too, a master’s thesis laid the foundation for a complex project that could subsequently only be implemented in close cooperation between the park owners and a suitable drive specialist. The choice was made for SEW-EURODRIVE, with which the Europa-Park has already had positive experience in maintenance and repair work for several years.
For instance, SEW-EURODRIVE’s fast service is also available on weekends if necessary. It makes no difference to our service colleagues whether the drive to be serviced is our own or a defective third-party geared motor.
Decentralized charging technology and energy storage system
Four MOVITRANS® spot TFS stationary field plates were concreted into the floor at each station, between the rails. The MOVI-DPS® energy storage units of the locomotive are charged inductively, i.e. contactlessly, from these within a very short time when the locomotive stops at the station. The charging process takes no more than one minute. Passengers need this time to get on and off the train anyway.
The amount of energy absorbed per stop in the double-layer capacitors of the maintenance-free MOVI-DPS® energy storage units will easily last until recharging at the next station and beyond. In addition to providing energy for driving the locomotive, the energy storage system also supplies all other electrical components on the train. This includes, among other things, the artificially created light, sound and steam effects.
Safety is top priority
TÜV Süd placed strict requirements for safe disconnection as soon as there is no train for charging on the field plates. The UCS10B safety controller is used for safe two-channel shutdown of the system. It deactivates the MOVITRANS® spot TES supply units if necessary.
In the case of the Panorama Trains, decentralized technology and installation in control cabinets are not a contradiction in terms, since the inconspicuous cabinets placed close to the tracks not only have a visual function but also to protect the electrical components against unauthorized access.
Drive technology with high energy efficiency
Four energy-efficient MOVIGEAR® drive units of type MGFTT4-DSM, one of which attentive observers can see at the front, behind the locomotive’s pilot.
They are ideal for this application because of their high protection class combined with the HP 200 surface coating. They are controlled via double-axis modules of the MOVIDRIVE® modular application inverter without encoder.
The MOVIDRIVE® modular is used as frequency inverter. Its compact dimensions and the integration of the energy storage system make it ideal for this application.