The 4x4 trucks are based on 13.3-tonne gvw U423 chassis supplied by dealer Lloyd Ltd, and are being converted at LH’s production facility in Staffordshire.
Specified for overhead line work, seven are being fitted with 6m access platforms with safe working load capacities of 400kg. The eighth will be equipped with a bespoke 2,500kg scissor-lift.
The first five will be based across Scotland, with the remaining three earmarked for Network Rail’s operation in the East Midlands.
The vehicles join a Network Rail fleet that already includes 26 Unimog road-railers, all of which were built by LH Group Services. Their Euro VI engines mean the latest arrivals are cleaner than previous versions.
The U423 has a 5.1-litre engine producing 228bhp and driving through a fully synchronised manual transmission with eight forward and six reverse gears. LH equips each truck with additional bogies front and rear, to provide guidance for ‘on rail’ operation – these are deployed or raised hydraulically, from the cab.
While other road-rail vehicles typically require a level crossing or RRAP (road rail access point) to join the track, the Unimog can cross challenging terrain if no points are available nearby. LH specifies the shorter of the two available wheelbase lengths for easier manoeuvring.
Front- and rear-facing cameras are supplied by Mercedes-Benz; LH adds four extra recordable cameras to each Unimog for additional safety and compliance.
Tony Culverwell, LH’s head of industrial products, says: “We recommend the Unimog for road-rail applications simply because long experience has proved it to be the best vehicle for the job.
“It’s all about flexibility and ease of operation. Railway access points can often be difficult and challenging, but not for a short-wheelbase, 4x4 Unimog. The truck also offers a massive on-rail towing ability and is exceptionally reliable, while the reduction in emissions is good news, too, particularly for operatives working in tunnels.”