Transportation Machine Building

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Transportation Machine Building


the sectors of machine building that produce means of transportation. (For a discussion of the production of motor vehicles, aircraft, and water-borne craft, seeAUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, AVIATION INDUSTRY, and SHIPBUILDING.)

The production of railroad rolling stock—locomotives and cars—is the concern of railroad machine building. Locomotive production began in the 1820’s, when the first steam locomotive plant was built in Great Britain in 1823. The first series-produced steam locomotives and railroad cars were manufactured in Russia at the Alexander Plant in St. Petersburg in the 1840’s. The manufacture of rolling stock began at the Kolomna, Neva, Liudinovo, and Votkinsk plants in the 1860’s and 1870’s and at the Briansk Plant in 1883, the Putilov Plant in 1894, and the Sormovo Plant in 1897. The Kharkov and Lugansk (now Voroshilovgrad) steam locomotive plants were built in the period 1897–1900. The production of railroad cars was organized at the St. Petersburg Plant (now the Egorov Plant) and at the Verkhniaia Volga (now Kalinin) and Mytishchi plants. In 1913, 477 steam locomotives, 12,000 freight cars, and 1,507 passenger cars were produced.

Table 1. Production of main-line rolling stock in the USSR (units)
Steam locomotives. . . . . . . . . .914  
Diesel locomotives. . . . . . . . . .54001 375
Electric locomotives. . . . . . . . . .9270395
Freight cars. . . . . . . . . .308803831469922
Passenger cars. . . . . . . . . .1 0511 8562090

Series production of four-axle freight cars began in the USSR in 1922; passenger car production began in 1928. The Soviet 1–5–1 series FD steam freight locomotive and the 1–4–2 series IS passenger locomotive with power ratings of 3,150 hp, the most powerful in Europe, were built between 1933 and 1941. A significant degree of standardization between freight and passenger locomotives was achieved. All freight cars were manufactured with automatic coupling and braking, and the production of all-metal cars, electric trains, and subway cars was begun. The Urals Railroad-car Plant went into operation, and specialization and cooperation in production developed. Specialized foundries and plants for brake equipment were built. The extensive use of welding not only simplified construction and reduced costs but also led to a significant reduction in the weight of components of rolling stock. In 1940 the USSR manufactured 914 main-line steam locomotives, 30,880 freight cars, and 1,051 passenger cars, all of which were equipped with automatic coupling and braking.

Successful accomplishment of the tasks of the prewar five-year plans enabled transportation machine building to meet completely the increased shipping needs during the Great Patriotic War (1941–5).

In the immediate postwar years the Kalinin, Kriukovo, Dne-prodzerzhinsk, Leningrad Egorov, and Bezhitskii railroad-car plants were quickly restored, and new plants were built. The latter group included the Altai, Riga, Demikhov, Kaliningrad, and Lianozovskii plants. Large lot production of steam locomotives was begun at the Voroshilovgrad, Kolomna, Briansk, Ulan-Ude, Krasnoiarsk, and Krasnoe Sormovo plants. New steam locomotives went into production: the 1–5–0 series L and 1–5–1 series LV freight engines and the 2–4–2 passenger engines. Production resumed at various plants. The Urals Railroad-car Plant produced gondola cars, the Ust’-Katav Plant produced streetcars, and the Mytishchi Plant produced subway cars. The manufacture of tank cars at the Zhdanov Heavy Machine-building Plant, hopper cars at the Velikie Luki plant, and transporters at the Voroshilovgrad plant was begun on a production-line basis. Cars for ER1 and ER2 DC and ER9P AC electric trains, DR1 diesel trains, and RV36M streetcars, with improved performance and economy and more sophisticated electric equipment, were produced for suburban and local traffic. In 1968 the Leningrad Egorov Plant began producing subway cars. Between 1966 and 1970, railroad car plants put more than 36 types of freight and passenger cars into production.

The first diesel locomotive in the USSR was introduced on Nov. 6, 1924, on the Oktiabr’ Railroad. Electric and diesel traction were introduced gradually in the early 1930’s. After the Great Patriotic War, the Kharkov Steam Locomotive Plant (now the Kharkov Transportation Machine-building Plant) developed and put into production diesel locomotives with power ratings of 1,000 and 2,000 hp per section (1 hp = 0.736 kilowatt [kW]).

In 1957 the Voroshilovgrad and Kolomna plants stopped producing steam locomotives and, in cooperation with the Kharkov plant, shifted to production of dieseis. The production of electric locomotives at the Novocherkassk Plant increased significantly, and in 1957 the Tbilisi Plant began producing electric locomotives.

In addition to the growth in production volume (see Table 1), Soviet locomotive plants have developed and launched production of new diesel locomotives with 2,200 kW (3,000 hp) per section and electric locomotives with a power of 6,160 kW AC and 4,500 kW DC.

Production of diesel locomotives with economical four-stroke engines and a promising AC-DC electric transmission began in 1972. The power ratings of dieseis have been raised to 4,000–6,000 hp, and work on the introduction of an AC transmission is under way.

The introduction of diesel and electric locomotives led to a 55 percent increase in the gross weight of trains and a 35 percent increase in speed in 1975 as compared to 1955.

The technical level of freight cars has been improved. In addition, components have been produced and production begun for the first industrial series of eight-axle tank cars and gondola cars with capacities of 120–125 tons.

New types of specialized cars have been designed and put into production, including cars for the transportation of coke, hot agglomerate, cement, mineral fertilizers, and motor vehicles. Series production of six types of dump cars with capacities of 50–180 tons has begun. Plans call for the manufacture of RT200 passenger cars for locomotive traction and ER200 electric trains, which will make possible high-speed traffic, up to 200 km/hr on certain sections.

The intensive use of railroads has brought about a significant increase in the production of track machines and tools. A set of machines has been developed for the construction and major repair of roads. It consists of high-performance tracklaying cranes, ballast-cleaning machines, hopper cars, and aligning, tamping, and finishing machines. Tamping and straightening machines and road tools also are built for ordinary road repair and are used extensively in routine maintenance. The production of track machines in 1975 was more than 50 percent greater than in 1970. Many plants, including the Kirov First of May Machine-building Plant, the Kaluga Plant, the Vorovskii Tikhoretsk Plant, and the Kalinin Tula Railroad Machinery Plant, are making great contributions to the development of new track machines.

Table 2. Production of main-line rolling stock in selected socialist countries (units)
Freight cars1,1542,510
Passenger cars9147
Steam locomotives74106
Diesel locomotives27390
Electric locomotives2385
Freight cars1,4235,4395,031
Passenger cars129467122
German Democratic Republic   
Steam locomotives130
Diesel locomotives101
Electric locomotives1146
Freight cars3,3115,027
Passenger cars9461,628
Steam locomotives25
Diesel locomotives14
Electric locomotives1123
Freight cars576479
Passenger cars58319201
Steam locomotives28221
Diesel locomotives83421
Electric locomotives575
Freight cars60011,93118,739
Passenger cars93575543
Steam locomotives65
Diesel locomotives288
Electric locomotives45
Freight cars2711,94015,591
Passenger cars87293
Table 3. Production of main-line rolling stock in selected capitalist countries (units)
1For 1973
2For 1972
3 For 1938
Freight cars64,075100,66966,600
Passenger cars2858452362
Freight cars23437,3649,900
Passenger cars2933155281
Federal Republic of Germany   
Freight cars11,01910,400
Passenger cars441382

The production of rolling stock at transportation machine-building plants is organized according to the production-line method, making extensive use (up to 85 percent) of product specialization. During the 1960’s the level of mechanization and automation of production and labor rose by more than 50 percent. Welding production became widespread, and fully mechanized lines and automatic and semiautomatic equipment were introduced. This work is continuing in the 1970’s. New types of AC and DC electric locomotives are being developed. Plans call for the use of rectifier-type electric motors, single-motor trucks, and new adjustment and control systems on AC electric locomotives. Work is continuing on the design of a new type of locomotive, the gas-turbine locomotive.

Other socialist countries have a highly developed industrial base for the production of locomotives and railroad cars (see Table 2). Only Bulgaria does not build locomotives.

Cooperation has been organized within the framework of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) for the mutual satisfaction of requirements for rolling stock and the joint solution of scientific and technical problems. More than 2,000 Soviet diesel locomotives are being operated in COMECON member countries, and electric passenger locomotives built in Czechoslovakia are used in the USSR.

Transportation machine building has reached a high level of concentration and monopolization in the developed capitalist countries. The main companies that produce railroad rolling stock are General Electric, General Motors, Pullman, and Budd in the USA, Alsthom, MTE, and ANF-Frengeco in France, and Henschel, MAK, Siemens, Talbot, and Linke-Hofmann-Busch in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Diesel locomotives, mainly with rated power of less than 4,000 hp and with electric transmissions, predominate in the locomotive fleets of the major capitalist countries (see Table 3).


Rakov, V. A. Lokomotivy zheleznykh dorog Sovetskogo Soiuza. Moscow, 1955.
Transport SSSR: Itogi za 50 let i perspektivy razvitiia. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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