Below Rail Infrastructure, Rail Supply

Rail Mounted Elevated Work Platforms: New technologies setting new trends

Rail Express spoke with Manco Engineering Group Managing Director Bryan Black about technological progress in the field of rail mounted elevated work platforms.


The market platform for elevated work platforms (EWPs) on road rail vehicles has undergone significant development over the last decade. First, the new AS7502 Road Rail Vehicle Standard, since being adopted by most network operators, has made compliance more demanding for road rail vehicle manufacturers as a whole. Second, there has been signifi cant evolution in the market for truck-mounted EWPs in general, used away from the rail corridor for all types of overhead construction and maintenance.

Bryan Black, Managing Director for rail and road/rail equipment manufacturer Manco Rail, tells Rail Express his company has made it a priority to stay on top of this progress, and at the cutting edge of the rail mounted EWP market.

“For example, the old concept of operating an EWP on track with the need of stabiliser legs is outdated,” he begins. “The old way means poor productivity, and added difficulties with stabiliser leg lengths on varying ballast profiles.

“Another important recent change is the elimination of a secondary or backup driver in the vehicle cabin once on track.”

Black says the productivity gains of a one-man operation are backed by a high degree of total operational safety, due in the main to the requirements set out in the new AS7502 standard and amendments to AS1418:10 that covers elevated work platforms.

Additionally, Manco is ensuring all of its road rail vehicle mounted EWPs can travel safely on track at a maximum safe working load, with full EWP working geometry, with movement controlled from the EWP. Black says the ability for platforms on Manco’s vehicles to maintain an elevated position, offset from centre of track, during travel, is a real production advantage in overhead wiring construction and maintenance.

While his company offers both truck and self-propelled models of EWPs, Black notes clients should consider a significant number of operational advantages and disadvantages of both truck and self-propelled specifications.

“Operators need to carefully consider their real long-term benefits for both configurations before embarking on their capital expenditure,” he says.

Truck-mounted EWPs

Black says firstly, truck mounted EWP technology can provide:

  • Full track travel mode from the platform without operator in the cab and at all boom angles and offsets
  • Independent and quick “no fuss” travel to track location without the need for a low bed transporter
  • Significant additional carrying capacity for tools and components (up to 2,000kg on some models)
  • High track speeds available up to 25km/h (6km/h with boom offset and elevated)
  • Short wheel bases to facilitate track access at road crossings
  • New high clearance rail modules
  • No need to have a secondary trailer for tools, slings and attachments
  • Fully failsafe brakes on all wheels

“The only real disadvantages over the self-propelled option,” Black states, “can be the higher capital cost, and the inability – unless using a 4 wheel drive cab and chassis – for track access other than at road crossings.”

Self-propelled EWPs

Black says Manco Rail’s design engineers have acknowledged some customers have a preference towards self-propelled EWPs, commonly referred to as MEWPs.

As a result of this, Manco Rail has selected the same prime mover base as used by two other well-known manufacturers, Rail Products from the UK and Neotec from France: the well proven Manitou 160ATJ +, featuring a 400kg safe working load as a prime base unit. With the Manitou base all three manufacturers have designed variations for their track drive options. In Manco Rail’s case, four epicyclic hub motors with oil immersed failsafe cone brakes have been used to enable ease of transfer of track gauge widths. In addition, as a further safety feature Manco engineers have included external “quick change” failsafe tread brakes on all wheels.

Like other manufacturers, Manco offer an extensive range of options like trailer attachment, on board generator, compressed air, piped for water, panning units, and extra working lights. Black says key features of the self-propelled EWPs are:

  • Excellent on tracking capability
  • Off track performance on rough terrain ground
  • Lower capital cost than truck-mounted EWPs
  • Proven base unit with the Manitou
  • Excellent working platform and load capacity

“Today’s technology in rail mounted elevated work platforms show a rapid progression for improved productivity in a very safe working environment,” Black concludes. “Both configurations are key requirements in competitive and cost effective situations for either construction or maintenance on rail networks.”


To discuss further, contact Bryan Black at, or Ryan Black at