“Ice Explorer” Tour Vehicles to Meet Tier 4 Standards
Deep in the Canadian Rockies, straddling 2 national parks, lies one of the largest non-polar ice fields in the world – the Columbia Icefield. It is home to 6 major glaciers and, located in the northwest corner of Banff National Park, lies the most imposing one – the Athabasca Glacier, covering an area of roughly 650 ha and standing between 100–300 m thick.
Thanks to its accessibility, the Athabasca Glacier holds the distinction of being the most visited glacier in North America. To ensure safe tourism to the region, local tour companies such as Columbia Icefield Adventure use specialized vehicles called Ice Explorers, which provide all-terrain mobility and the ability to safely drive onto the glacier to provide an up-close experience to the majestic sights.
The Ice Explorer coaches are workhorses, transporting thousands of passengers daily during the glacier’s open season from mid-April to mid-October, running up to 16 hours a day. Originally equipped with Detroit Diesel engines, Columbia Icefield Adventure began upgrading the powertrain systems of several coaches in its fleet last year to meet Tier 4 final exhaust emissions standards as required by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Columbia Icefield Adventure turned to Wajax Power Systems, a MTU distributor that operates 100 branches across Canada, who provided a full ground-up rebuild for 3 initial coaches, including new powertrain systems featuring the current MTU Series 1000 engines.
“Every component in powertrain of the coaches was replaced with new,” said Rob Smith, customer account manager for Wajax. “The engine, transmission, cooling system, cabin heating system, drivelines, axles, suspension and more were all replaced. Not only did we handle the upgrades, we also provide continuing service support for the coaches from our locations in Calgary and Edmonton and on-site via our mobile field technicians.”
The MTU Series 1000 engines also deliver significantly lower fuel consumption than previous engines and are built to ensure continuous operation. The operators of the updated coaches are finding these much easier to drive and quieter in operation.
“The quieter engine and the new silent braking system add to the passenger experience by removing distracting noises,” said Corey Donovan, general manager, Columbia Icefield. “Without distracting noise from an idling engine and noisy brakes, our guests are free to soak in the magic of the glacier.”
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