A truck rolling down the railway track is an unusual sight to see, unless you work for Aries Rail, who specialise in road rail conversion vehicles which are most commonly used in infrastructure projects.
Their Aries Hyrail brand vehicles come in a variety of shapes and forms: from utes and 4WDs through to light-duty maintenance trucks, and all the way to larger crane trucks, tippers, tilt-trays and vacuum pumpers.
Aries Rail Engineering Director Phil Gooch says current demand for their product is through the roof.
“A lot of the big tunnelling projects, particularly in Sydney and Brisbane, are desperate for vehicles that don’t exist; there’s just not a surplus of road rail trucks in the hire market in Australia.
“We know the quality of our product and technical compliance speaks for itself compared to what’s already out there in the hire space.
“For example, many of our clients need the flexibility to be able to pick up tools and equipment from a yard, drive from there to the rail, jump on the railway into the tunnel and get to where that work needs to happen,” he explained.
“We’ve responded to that demand by building a hire fleet of Isuzu trucks that can go on road and any rail network in Australia and be compliant with any standard across the network.”
Within three years, Aries Rail have built quite the dry-hire cache. They have over 30 vehicle assets, a large proportion of which are Isuzu trucks converted for road and rail use.
Aries Rail have chosen hard-wearing medium-duty models to provide the backbone of the fleet, modifying FVR, FVZ, FXY, and specifically, FVY trucks with a strengthened chassis and rail suspension system, amongst other fittings.
“One of the reasons we specifically chose Isuzu’s FVY platform is that we needed a truck that could run a different type of rail axle that can handle both broad and narrow gauges,” Phil explained.
“We needed a combination of engine power to drive the rail wheels, payload for the equipment and also the correct chassis length… the FVY sits perfectly amongst all these criteria.”
With an on-road GVM of 24,000 kg, the 6×4 FVY 240-300 can carry serious weight. Under the hood, an Isuzu 6HK1-TCS turbocharged engine produces 221 kW (300 PS) @ 2,400 rpm of power and torque of 981 Nm @ 1,450 rpm, matching the specific requirements they need to power the rail wheels.
A generous payload is available despite the extra mass of the rail equipment, ensuring the FVY reliably meets the brief for carrying either heavy maintenance tools, equipment, or loads of debris from construction worksites along the nations’ railway networks.
Spoilt for choice
Further to the FVY’s suitability for their requirements, Phil says it’s Isuzu’s comprehensive model range that offers flexibility in developing vehicles to round-out their burgeoning hire fleet.
“We’ve worked with many different truck manufacturers over the years, and it was a no-brainer to go with Isuzu when we were looking at our own fleet,” he said. “Our experience is that they’re robust for pretty much any application. We have only one truck that is between jobs at the moment, all the others have been on hire almost from the day they were built!”
Using the rugged Isuzu cab chassis platform, Aries Rail have created a turnkey package which is attractive to clients, cutting down what has traditionally been a lengthy weight time.
Though this doesn’t mean the complex custom builds have gone out the window—the team pump out around a dozen custom-builds per year and have a long prospective client list.
Currently, Aries Rail is in the process of building four Isuzu NPS 75-155 4×4 narrow gauge maintenance vehicles and a new FSR 140-260—to name just a few—for transport networks from Western Australia over to the east coast of Queensland.
With the hire fleet expanding and their vehicles in high demand, it looks like Aries Rail are on track for future growth.