Exploring the Future of Rail Fastening Systems: A Conversation with Mr. Sven Haag, CEO of Vossloh Rail Fastening Systems


Metro Rail news interviewed Mr Sven Haag during the IREE, 2023. In the interview, he outlined Vossloh’s commitment to quality, sustainability, and achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. The discussion spotlighted the W 30  system, solidifying Vossloh’s role in India’s rail track modernisation.

Mr. Sven Haag, CEO of Vossloh Rail Fastening Systems, is a visionary leader driving innovation in rail infrastructure. With a legacy of over six decades, Mr. Haag’s leadership focuses on tailoring cutting-edge solutions to diverse track conditions, particularly in the Indian Railway Networks undergoing modernisation and semi-high Speed to high-speed rail markets.

Here are the edited excerpts: 

Q1: Mr. Sven Haag, can you tell us about Vossloh’s portfolio in providing specialised solutions in rail fastening systems, offering a wide scope in the superstructures of rail infrastructure?

Our company offers a wide range of fastening systems for the rail industry, specifically designed to suit different track conditions. We understand the importance of track stability and safety, especially passenger and freight transportation. In India, the current track infrastructure may not be suitable for semi–high speed & high-speed trains or heavy hauls, which calls for an improvement in the durability and safety of the track. Our company is committed to bringing safety on track and making train journeys enjoyable instead of being a cause for concern. Our dedicated efforts save the lives of thousands commuting on the trains daily. 

Q2: What makes Vossloh a leading global company for rail fasteners, and what innovations is the company bringing to future mobility?

The history of the W design Clamps is nothing short of impressive, with a heritage spanning over 55 years. The first Clamp was launched in the ’60s, and since then, the company has been providing Clamps that cater to different speed ranges. From standard commuter train quality with a maximum limit of 18 tons and a speed of 160 kmph to Clamps that can now support up to 400-kilometre speed, the company has established itself as a dominant market leader in the high-speed section. With a decent market share in the largest high-speed market in the world – China, the company enjoys the trust of its customers and is known for its capabilities worldwide. Additionally, in the US, where heavy haul is a big thing, the company provides Clamps with tonnages up to 40-ton axle loads to ensure safe transportation. 

The future is already here, and the company is ready to tackle the challenges that come with it. The W series, which is 55 years old, has been replaced by the new M series. The M technology is the answer to the increase in rail buckling and natural frequency of the track due to self-driving drains and other factors. The track’s stress will increase, and the company has already provided a solution – the M 300 system. The clamps are available in different series for different applications, whether heavy haul or Urban Transport Systems. The company has a wide portfolio of adjacent products, making it unique in the market and capable of making transportation much easier in the future.

Q3: Can you elaborate on the defined innovation process at Vossloh, ensuring the maintenance of the highest efficiency and quality standards? What is the workflow management at the organisation?

As a company, we consider quality a hygiene factor, which is a must and non-negotiable. We are an ISO-certified company with manufacturing sites across the globe, including three in India, with more to come. We have a standardised system for fastening types, ensuring quality is our highest priority. Our focus is primarily on the end-users’ needs and problems, and we strive to provide solutions that eliminate any issues they might face. Our product development process is well-defined and involves significant testing, ensuring that the end product meets the highest standards. For instance, our W 30 system, already in use worldwide, has proven to be the most reliable in the market. We constantly strive to improve our products and processes to provide the best possible solutions to our customers.

Q4: Briefly, could you provide an overview of Vossloh’s heavy-haul rail fastening system, W 30, and how it could benefit the Indian rail industry?

The Indian Railway has started modernising all its tracks, with a clear trend toward investing in new trains. In particular, the Vande Bharat trains have been ordered in large numbers, indicating a significant shift toward higher speeds, up to 120 kilometres per hour for freight or even higher for passenger trains. However, the current system is not designed to accommodate this level of speed and tonnage. As a result, the railway is looking to invest in a proven system capable of achieving speeds of 120 kilometres per hour with a 25-ton load or more than 200 kilometres per hour with a 22.8-ton load.

We are proud to be part of this modernisation effort, and we can assure our customers that they will not be disappointed with the results. Our system has been proven in different countries, with more than 1000 kilometres in track across various temperatures and economic zones. Above all, our system will bring security to the tracks, saving lives and ensuring a safer and more efficient railway.

Q5: What major innovations has Vossloh introduced in the switch market, particularly for ballasted and slab tracks catering to different load profiles?

At Vossloh, we firmly believe that there are better approaches than a one-size-fits-all approach for addressing the varying needs of different individuals. We understand that the speed and load of the track, as well as the presence of slabs or ballast, can significantly impact the system’s performance. Therefore, it is imperative to have a specialised system implemented that is tailored to specific needs. This is especially important when considering the vibration level on the track, which can cause issues not just with the fastening system but also with bridges, burnouts, and even the safety and comfort of passengers. 

Safety is a crucial factor that should not be taken lightly, especially in light of the numerous accidents that have occurred in the past, resulting in injuries and fatalities. Ensuring that the systems in place are reliable and trustworthy is of utmost importance. While there may be discussions regarding cost-cutting measures, it is crucial to prioritise safety over these concerns. Even small cost reductions can lead to significant problems down the line, and it is essential to adhere to strict quality standards and specifications to ensure the safety of all involved. 

In India, following the same safety standards as most other countries and investing in reliable and high-quality systems is vital. While there may be costs associated with these investments, it is crucial to believe in companies that prioritise quality and standards, as the safety and well-being of all individuals must remain the top priority.

Q6: Could you outline Vossloh’s sustainability strategy and management approach, detailing carbon mitigation and environmental protection efforts?

Our company’s goal is to become carbon neutral by 2030, which is aligned with Indian Railways’ target. Vossloh is making significant progress towards this goal by focusing on energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions in all of our plants worldwide. We are actively working on finding ways to reduce our gas consumption, but unfortunately, there is still a lack of green gas available. However, we continuously research and explore new technologies to help us achieve our goals. For instance, we are already producing sleepers made out of 100% recycled plastic, which can be fully recycled again in the future. Our M series has already achieved a 90% carbon reduction using fully recycled steel. This demonstrates our high pace in moving towards carbon neutrality. We have signed the Charter of being carbon neutral in 2030, but we are determined to reach this goal even sooner. This commitment is shared across all our divisions, including the sleeper, turnout, and service divisions. It is our responsibility to ensure a sustainable future for the next generation.

Q7: With a diverse range of rail fastening and turnout systems signalling products, how is Vossloh supporting the Indian rail industry, especially in metro and high-speed rail operations?

In the context of urban transit, addressing the environmental concerns stemming from traffic-induced pollution and smog is paramount. Simultaneously, the noise and vibration challenges associated with trains passing through residential areas must be noticed. Vossloh is committed to continuous improvement in this domain as the originator of the widely-used 300-1 fastening system for high-speed rail. The introduction of the M series represents a groundbreaking advancement, enabling train speeds to approach the design specifications of 400 kilometres per hour. This innovation places Vossloh at the forefront of the industry and significantly enhances rail travel, as demonstrated by successful speed tests reaching 450 kilometres per hour.

In practical terms, this means that, for instance, in China, where our system is utilised, train operators can achieve 350 kilometres per hour. Conversely, when a different system is employed, the maximum allowable speed is capped at 320 kilometres per hour. Vossloh’s innovations effectively elevate the velocity of rail transport, providing customers with a genuinely expedited travel experience. We are conducting tests at speeds of up to 450 kilometres per hour, a testament to our commitment to further advancing this realm.

Furthermore, the Indian railway sector vigilantly monitors the prospects of high-speed and semi-high-speed tracks within the nation. It is noteworthy that in the context of India, an expansive and diverse country, high-speed rail infrastructure is pivotal for efficient connectivity between cities. However, this endeavour necessitates heightened security within the system. It entails constructing elevated tracks, which invariably come with substantial financial costs. In situations where elevation is not feasible, protective fencing is required.

It is indisputable that the transition to high-speed rail is an imperative transformation for India. To exemplify, when contemplating travel from Mumbai to Pune, Mumbai to Bangalore, or Mumbai to Delhi, the prospective reduction in travel time to two and a half to three hours, coupled with the elimination of the logistical complexities associated with air travel, renders high-speed rail an increasingly attractive choice. My recent journey to China is a compelling illustration of the advantages of high-speed rail, where I enjoyed a comfortable and efficient trip spanning 1,200 kilometres from Shanghai to Anyang, with a mere 6 hours and 20 minutes of travel time. The journey was marked by the ease of a comfortable seating arrangement and a delightful lunch, devoid of the usual stressors and inconveniences of air travel.

Discover the endless possibilities of our city’s Metro at InnoMetro, our flagship Expo and Conference. Be an active participant in shaping its future towards a more sustainable tomorrow. Stay informed and join us to take a step towards a brighter future.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.