The first of a large fleet of diesel-electric locos built by Alstom and Siemens will shortly enter service with SNCF, reports Laurent Charlier

TRAINS carrying aggregates between Caffiers and the Paris area will be the first in France to be hauled by Class 475000 locomotives, the latest addition to Fret SNCF’s traction fleet. These Bo-Bo diesel-electrics are destined to become Fret SNCF’s standard main line locos for non-electrified routes, with the first units due to enter service by April.

Fret SNCF placed a contract for as many as 500 locos on February 27 2004 with an Alstom-Siemens consortium; the first 400 locos represent a firm order, but the final 100 remain an option for the moment.

In March 2006 a pair of locomotives was sent to the Siemens test track at Wegberg-Wildenrath in Germany, where they remained in February. Shortly afterwards the third and fourth locos were dispatched for trials on domestic routes, with one undergoing tests based at Marseille and Epernay and the other at Amagne-Lucquy and Plouaret. The trials included starting a 1 600 tonne train on a 1% gradient, and the test locomotive reached 28 km/h after travelling 2 km. This series of tests was concluded on August 11.

The trials have included checks to ensure that the locos meet the latest European safety and interoperability requirements. For example, interior and exterior noise measurements were carried out at a range of different speeds, confirming that Class 475000 meets both contractual specifications and the requirements of the relevant TSI. Final certification will be granted by the Établissement Public de Sécurité Ferroviaire.

Domestic and international versions

The contract for the first 400 locos specified two versions, one for hauling domestic traffic and the other for service between France and Germany. The domestic locos are being fitted with KVB automatic train protection and Atess event recording equipment.

At least 100 domestic locos will be built before the first locos in the international build roll off the production lines. SNCF confirmed an option for 33 of the cross-border locos in December 2006, and the first of this batch is scheduled for delivery in December 2008. Certification of the ‘German’ locos is covered by a bilateral agreement signed on March 13 2006.

Fret SNCF has meanwhile decided to equip some locos to operate on the Belgian and Dutch networks. Although the accreditation process has yet to be agreed, Fret SNCF is anxious to have these locomotives available ‘as soon as possible’.

Delivery of the 400 locomotives will not be complete until October 2015, with the suppliers building 44 units a year.

Shared production

As consortium leader, Alstom has a 59% share in the value of the contract. The company will assemble 270 bodyshells and fit out all 400 at its Belfort plant, where static tests and other initial trials are carried out. The other 130 shells will be fabricated at the Siemens factory in München-Allach, where they will be painted and sent to Belfort.

The 475000 combines Alstom’s experience with the 427000 and 437000 Prima designs with the know-how Siemens gained with its Eurorunner locomotives such as Austrian Federal Railways’ Class 2016 ‘Hercules'.

Siemens is responsible for supplying the diesel engines, cooler groups, the main traction blocks and the control equipment. Bogies similar to those used on electric versions of the Prima are being fabricated by Alstom at Le Creusot, and traction motors will come from the company’s factory in Ornans. Other Alstom plants will manufacture braking equipment, compressors, cab air-conditioning, driver’s desks, buffers and train control components.

The power plant is a 16-cylinder MTU 16V 4000 R41 diesel engine. This drives a separately excited synchronous three-phase alternator supplying a Siemens traction package that includes water-cooled IGBT transistors in place of the GTO thyristors used on the Class 2016. Two MLI inverters, one for each bogie, supply variable-voltage variable-frequency power to the four nose-suspended traction motors with forced ventilation. This arrangement too differs from the Class 2016, which has one inverter for all four traction motors. An intermediate bus feeds the train line and a converter powering auxiliary equipment.

The traction converters incorporate the choppers needed for the rheostatic brakes which make use of force-ventilated roof-mounted resistors. The electric braking equipment is blended with air brakes, as on Classes 427000 and 437000.

A microprocessor-based Sibas 32 control package incorporating fault diagnosis is similar to that fitted to several builds of Siemens locos such as the ES64F4 and ES64U4. The loco’s Train Communication Network meets Norm CEI61735 and consists of a WTB train bus and a MVB vehicle bus. The MVB handles data exchange within the locomotive and the WTB is used to transmit and receive data from another locomotive that may be working in multiple. Provision has been made for fitment of ETCS equipment at a later date.

  • CAPTION: Loco 475004 on test at Amagne-Lucquy. Two locos underwent trials in France, while another pair was sent to Germany for tests at Wegberg-Wildenrath
  • Fig 1. Two lateral gangways on Class 475000 locomotives give good access to all equipment, and fire doors divide the interior into three compartments
  • Fig 2. Class 475000 has a starting tractive effort of 250 kN