Transmash Holding 2TE116UM twin-section diesel freight locomotive in Mongolia.

MONGOLIA: Ulaanbaatar Railway signed a contract with Transmash Holding for the supply of 35 2TE116UM twin-section diesel freight locomotives and 13 TEM18DM shunters on October 28.

An initial four main line and five shunting locomotives are to due be delivered to UBTZ this year, and the remainder by July 2011.

The order was signed when Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin was in Ulaanbaatar to witness the departure of the first train carrying coal from the Tavan Tolgoi mine to Russia's Pacific port of Vostochny. Until now freight from Mongolia has run west through Russia, but RZD is keen to develop traffic to Japan and Korea through Russia's Far East ports.

The inaugural train was hauled by a 2TE116UM locomotive developed under an October 2009 agreement between UBTZ and TMH, and delivered during September. Based on TMH's 2TE116, the 2TE116UM is adapted to haul 6 000 tonne trains in dusty, high-altitude and mountainous environments.

Russia's VTB Bank is providing a loan to fund the locomotives, along with track machines and other equipment. The loan is guaranteed by RZD, which manages the Russian government's 50% stake in UBTZ and is providing technical support for development of the 1 520 mm gauge network.

In 2009 UBTZ turned down a proposed US$188m grant from the US government to fund development, preferring to use Russian sources (RG 6.09 p30).