The Ekoslide system was formerly also known as the rail switch slide or roller plate. It was first developed by then Fuel Combine at Vřesová in the Czech Republic in 1984. The Combine was part of the coal mining district and the railway switches were exposed to the aggressive effects of chemicals and to increased dust formation caused by coal mining and transport of coal dust in wagons. Most of you will be familiar with pictures of railway switches with the typical glistening slide plates along which the tongue moves to determine the direction of a train passing at rail crossings or parallel lines. The characteristic glitter on the slide plates is caused by lubrication with the prescribed oil type for the tongue to slide easily to and from the rail. The above-mentioned effects of the aggressive environment caused the oils used not to fulfill their sliding function. They reacted chemically with the deposits, changing into a rubber-like mixture. As time passed the switches had to be lubricated more and more and their switching often required Herculean strength. At the time of efficiency measures a system was devised to provide the shifting of the switch tongue without the necessity of lubricating the slide plates.
The engineers at the Vřesová Combine, who were involved in the efficiency measures task, had never been involved in the development of railway structure. Paradoxically enough, this inexperience allowed them to see the switches from a different point of view and to use their knowledge obtained in other fields. The result was the development and manufacture of the first rail switch slides. It was a new roller system with the switch tongue not moving on slide plates but on the rollers. The product did not interfere with the switch structure. At the same time it fully preserved the function of the slide plates under passing trains, i.e. the slide plates continued to bear the weight of the train. The switch slide only provided for the tongue transport within the switch from its part under the passing train (by the rail stock) to the part off the passing train (away from the rail stock). Hence the system only bore the weight of the tongue on its switching and in the position off the rail stock. This allowed for continuous development from the first switch slides with the weight of 30 kg to roller plates known as Ekoslide with the weight of only 8 kg. Ekoslides were made and have been used since 1985 in the Sokolov and the Most coal district and tested in the railway system in what was then Czechoslovakia and the Federal Republic of Germany. Following successful tests the designers of the system patented the switch slide for its worldwide protection.
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