INTRO: When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Russia was left with no factories producing multiple-units or passenger locos within its borders; now home-grown designs are emerging

BYLINE: Dr Tech Sc V A Matyushin

Deputy Director-General

Central Scientific Railway Research Institute

THE RAILWAYS of the former USSR were going through an exceptionally difficult period at the start of the 1990s. When the Soviet Union broke up it was inevitable that Soviet Railways would follow, and this happened towards the end of 1991.

At the same time, industrial production slumped and so did freight traffic. Thus the management of Russian Railways (RZD) faced a novel situation with regard to motive power.

There was an abundance of main line electric and diesel freight locomotives, and diesel shunters because of the slump. However, passenger traffic had not dropped so dramatically; there was a shortage of passenger locos, and an acute shortage of EMUs and DMUs for commuting and regional services.

Unfortunately, none of the plants building electric passenger locos or multiple-units was located within Russia. Most multiple-units had been built at Riga, which is in Latvia, and passenger locos were normally imported from Czechoslovakia within the Comecon trading area. Once trade had to be conducted in hard currency, it was impossible to pay for imported trains.

The response of the government to this situation was a federal programme to develop and manufacture electric passenger locos, EMUs and DMUs within Russia. This is now bearing fruit as new designs emerge from the factories.

Two-stage programme

The federal programme is divided into two stages. The short-range stage is concerned with getting production started at the new locations. It covers the VL65 and EP1 electric locomotives, the ED2T, ET2 and ED4 classes of EMU, and the DL2 and MPD-46 classes of DMU.

The long range part of the programme covers electric locos of classes EP200, EP100, EP2 and EP10, the EMUs classified ED6 and EN1, the Sokol high speed trainset, and a newly developed four-axle railbus for low density lines.

Production of EMUs has been initiated at factories located in the towns of Demekhovo and Torzhok. The established Ludinovo Diesel Locomotive Factory has undertaken the production of electric passenger locomotives as well as DMUs.

Locomotive developments

Until recently, the big electric locomotive factory at Novocherkassk in the south of Russia had only built 8 and 12 axle twin-section freight units. These have axle-hung DC traction motors rated at 800 kW which are fed by a controllable rectifier that regulates the voltage. They are capable of regenerative braking.

Building on the fund of experience here, the first order placed under the passenger programme was for the VL65, a six-axle single-section locomotive using the same 800 kW motors but equipped to supply train-lined power for hauling passenger or freight trains at 120 km/h.

In 1998 an improved model of this loco designated EP1 will be built with bogie-mounted traction motors, which will permit an increase in speed to 140 km/h. It will feature microprocessor based control and diagnostic systems which have been tested on the VL65 prototype unit.

The next step will see production of the EP10. This will have asynchronous three-phase traction motors, and will be developed with the help of Adtranz in Germany.

The EP10 will be dual voltage, capable of drawing power at 3 kV DC or 25 kV 50Hz, continuously rated at 7·2MW, and capable of 160 km/h. Regenerative or rheostatic braking will be effective throughout the whole speed range, and there will be microprocessor based controls and diagnostics.

Power conversion relies on high-power GTO thyristors to rectify the incoming AC or adjust the voltage of DC from the line, and the ’twin-star’ arrangement is used to supply the traction motors from the inverters.

A DC-only version of this locomotive designated EP2 will also be produced.

Last year, the Kolomna diesel locomotive plant produced two EP200 prototype electric locos designed to haul passenger trains at 200 km/h. The bogies used on this eight-axle machine are based on the 160 km/h TEP80 passenger diesel rated at 6000hp. The TEP80 has a single 24·5m long body carried on two four-axle bogies, with the load distributed mechanically between pairs of wheelsets in each bogie.

During high speed test runs, it was confirmed that these bogies have a very good dynamic performance, the lateral wheel/rail forces being no higher than for EMUs. Because of this, it proved possible to reach the truly remarkable speed of 271 km/h between Shluze and Doroshikha on the St Petersburg - Moscow line.

To obtain the 8MW power requirement in the EP200, it has been necessary to replace the DC traction motors with asynchronous AC motors rated at 1MW each. However, the power circuits of the EP200 (Fig 1) are based on the same two-block modular concept that has been well proven on freight locomotives.

Each block is supplied by two centre-tapped secondary windings on the main transformer, and consists of two rectifiers each supplying a pair of inverters. Each inverter produces a variable frequency three-phase output to a traction motor. A fifth transformer winding supplies four excitation rectifiers in each block.

To increase the power factor of the loco and reduce voltage drop in the line, an LC filter with 330