THIS MONTH will see Europe's most powerful diesel-hydraulic locomotive on test at the Velim research centre in the Czech Republic. The 3 600 kW Maxima 40CC prototype is undertaking endurance trials as part of a test programme that started earlier this year and is due to see the locomotive certified for revenue operation in Germany by early 2008.
The first Maxima was unveiled at the InnoTrans show in Berlin last year (RG 11.06 p736), and three more are now under construction at the Voith Turbo Lokomotivtechnik plant in Kiel. The second loco is expected to be rolled out before the end of this year.
Also taking shape in Kiel are the first prototypes of the Gravita shunting loco family, which are due to be launched at InnoTrans 2008. Ideally, Voith would like to have these certified for German operation in time for the event.
Two four-axle Gravita prototypes are under construction: the 10BB powered by an eight-cylinder MTU 4000 engine and the 15BB equipped with a 12-cylinder version of the same power pack. Both are diesel-hydraulic designs; the 10BB will use a L4r4 Voith transmission and the 15BB the L5r4 version.
Maxima under test
The supplier reports that the certification process for the Maxima 40CC is running on schedule. Pressure and stress tests were undertaken in Kiel to demonstrate compliance with EN 12663, and the bodyshell of the second loco was used to confirm that the design meets the current structural requirements for railway vehicles. The bodyshell was also subjected to a 4 000 kN load on the buffer beams to meet the requirements of crashworthiness standard prEN 15227. Brake tests were carried out with the assistance of Minden-based DB-Systemtechnik, who also fitted instrumented wheelsets to demonstrate compliance with UIC 518 specifications.
Meanwhile, the certification process has started for operation in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands. A French certificate is also seen as a high priority.
According to Voith, the Polish certificate will also cover the planned six-axle version with a 20-tonne axleload known as the Maxima 30 CC, which will be rated at 2 750 kW. This will share many of the main components with its bigger sister, including the bodyshell, bogies, wheelsets, brake systems and the LS640reU2 split transmission. It will be powered by the 12-cylinder version of the ABC 16V DZC engine used in the Maxima 40 CC.
Co-operation with HGK
On September 25 Voith Turbo Lokomotivtechnik and Häfen & Güterverkehr Köln AG announced a 10-year co-operation agreement which will see the development of new central workshop for the Maxima and Gravita families at Brühl-Vochem near Köln. This will undertake servicing and maintenance for all Voith-built diesel-hydraulic main line and shunting locomotives, being conveniently located for Germany, France and the Benelux region.
HGK is an established freight operator, with its own port railway and open-access services across much of western Europe. It plans to put the first Maxima 40CC into freight service early in 2008, and to lease several more of the six-axle locos to replace 10 EMD Class 66s.
A contract for the expansion of HGK's Brühl workshops was signed at the end of July. From the end of 2008, this will give Voith two workshop tracks and sidings with six spaces for servicing Gravita locomotives and four for the larger Maximas. HGK staff will carry out heavy maintenance and repair duties under the leadership of Voith supervisors.
Brühl-Vochem will be the location of the European central warehouse for Voith Turbo Lokomotivtechnik spare parts. Under the deal, the facility will provide 24 h support for Maxima operators, with both mobile and workshop services.
Hydraulic leasing company
To encourage the take-up of Maxima and Gravita locos, Voith is supporting the formation of a new locomotive leasing company, Ox-traction NV. This has been formed by a small team of Dutch entrepreneurs, with Voith as a shareholder, although the promoters are currently looking for a financial partner.
Ox-traction NV will be based at Roosendaal in the south of the Netherlands, conveniently located less than 50 km from two of Europe's largest North Sea ports at Antwerpen and Rotterdam.
Ox-traction will initially supply only Voith-built diesel-hydraulic locomotives, and is currently considering whether to fit them with ETCS Level 2 on-board equipment as standard. Three 'country packages' of signalling and certification for cross-border operation of the Maxima design are envisaged:
- Netherlands, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic;
- Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands;
- Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and France.
All three packages will have German certification to ensure wide availability and a high residual value.
Under the name 'Rund-um-sorglos', Ox-traction plans to offer its customers a menu of maintenance and servicing options, ranging from full-service including cover for unscheduled failures through to supply of individual spare part orders or other services.
As it will be supplying only Voith Turbo Lokomotivtechnik products, Ox-traction is expected to have a close involvement in the technical development of the Maxima and Gravita families.