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RZD tackles its motive power crisis

01 Jun 2003

Russian Railways is planning to refurbish around 8000 locomotives over the next seven years, while designs are tested and international partnership contracts awarded for supply of a new generation of motive power

Dipl-Ing Boris E Lukov, First Deputy General Secretary, International Co-ordinating Council for Trans-Siberian Transport

TWO ADVANCED electric locomotives designed to haul long-distance passenger trains entered service with Russian Railways at the end of last year. They may shortly be joined by a General Motors-engined heavy freight diesel, as part of a programme to refurbish or replace much of the Russian Federation's motive power fleet by 2010.

RZD's motive power situation has been causing major concern at the Ministry of Railway Transport for several years. Owing to a shortage of funding for capital investment throughout the 1990s, RZD was only able to buy a few new locomotives. For the same reason, repairs were not able to keep pace with demand.

In a balanced fleet, the average age of the locomotives should be around 50% of total life-expectancy, reflecting a range of ages from new to totally life-expired. In broad terms, by the start of 2003 the average age of the electric loco fleet had risen to 55% of total life expectancy, whilst the diesel fleet was in worse condition, having reached around 80%.

Current forecasts envisage that freight traffic on the Russian rail network will increase by 26% between now and 2010, with passenger traffic rising by between 6% and 7% in the same timescale. To handle these traffic volumes, RZD will require around 6800 electric locos and 6500 diesels, including shunters. However, no less than 5000 electric locomotives and more than 5000 main line diesels will be due for scrapping by 2010. Even if the ageing locos can be kept in service, the intensity of their utilisation will have to be reduced.

Strategic decisions

A turning point came at the end of May 2002, when the motive power issue was debated at a special board meeting within the ministry. At that stage the position was regarded as 'extremely critical'. A shortfall of serviceable passenger locomotives had seen the transfer of 550 electric and 440 diesel locos from freight traffic to handle passenger trains, resulting in an operating loss of between 250m and 300m roubles.

Among the other concerns flagged up were the ongoing lack of resources to fund investment in replacement motive power and the limited capacity of the domestic supply industry compared to the number of locomotives which would be needed.

The board therefore decided to adopt a two-stage fleet renewal strategy:

  • to use the available finance to refurbish existing locomotives and extend their operational life by 15 to 20 years, and to re-equip the main factories and workshops where the refurbishment will be carried out;
  • to order a limited number of new locomotives of conventional types, whilst accelerating the development of more advanced motive power designs by harnessing both domestic and foreign expertise.

It was agreed that tenders should be called to select a partner for the design and manufacture of new locos, with the aim of starting series production in 2006. Prototypes would be developed and tested ahead of the start of series manufacture.

A limited breathing space was provided by the decline in traffic volumes during the 1990s. This enabled RZD to withdraw from service around 780 locomotives which were due for heavy overhaul. These could then be cannibalised to overcome a shortage of spare parts.

This year RZD has been allocated 122bn roubles for investment, of which 10·4bn will go on motive power and rolling stock. The aim is to buy 76 passenger and 78 freight locomotives, 500 passenger coaches and 9000 wagons. An order has been placed with Kolomna for 26 diesel locos of Class TEP70A for delivery this year. In 2002 RZD was able to buy just 19 electric and 20 diesel locos - all for passenger service.

Interim refurbishment

Work has already started on revitalising the existing stock. By 2010 around 1710 electric and 5200 diesel locomotives are due to undergo refurbishment or life-extension work. So far around 244 main line locos and 160 diesel shunters have been tackled. But there is growing concern that the cost of refurbishing some older types might prove higher than purchasing new locomotives.

RZD's main line freight loco fleet currently comprises 3451 electrics and 1318 diesels. A total of 430 electric and 430 diesel locomotives will be refurbished in 2003-04.

Class VL80 electric freight locos for 25 kV routes are being modernised at the Ulan-Ude locomotive repair shop, whilst the DC equivalent VL10s are being tackled at Chelyabinsk. The VL80C locos are being refurbished at Novocherkassk.

The Czech-built CS-2 electric passenger locomotives are also scheduled to be refurbished over the next three or four years, although they will subsequently be replaced.

EP200 takes to the track

The Ministry of Railways expects to have a prototype 'standard' asynchronous-motored electric freight loco on test in 2006, and to start series production the following year. By combining proven elements of new technology with the economies of long-term large-scale production, the aim is to bring the unit cost down to around 35% or 40% of the current price of conventional locomotives.

With the successful completion of trials with prototypes for four electric passenger loco types, series production of Classes EP1, EP2, EP10 and EP200 should start this year (Table I). These are destined to form the basis of RZD's long-distance passenger fleet for the next few years.

The two eight-axle EP200 and EP201 prototypes (Fig 1) were accepted for operation in the second half of 2002. They were built at the Kolomna plant, in co-operation with the All-Russian Railway Research Institute and several other Russian companies. Velnii Ltd developed the electrical equipment and asynchronous traction motors.

Designed to haul passenger trains on long-distance routes between Moscow and the cities of Siberia and the Far East, the 25 kV 50Hz locomotives are rated at 8000 kW. The EP200 is geared for 200 km/h operation with up to 20 coaches, whilst the EP201 has a lower gearing to raise the tractive effort. This loco can haul up to 24 coaches, but its top speed is limited to 160 km/h (Table II). The bogies for the EP200 are designed to run at up to 250 km/h in the future.

Natural gas locos

The development of natural gas-fuelled locomotives was started at the All-Russian Railway Research Institute during the 1980s, with the construction of two prototype main line locos. RZD sees three major advantages of gas fuel: it is around half the price of diesel, offers reduced exhaust emissions, and the country has bigger reserves of gas than oil.

Other advantages identified by RZD include the low cost of the conversion and the ability to use existing refuelling equipment. Running a converted engine on diesel when necessary would only incur a 3% increase of fuel consumption.

Two gas-powered prototypes were assembled at the Lugansk diesel locomotive factory in Ukraine. The 2TE10G used a 10D100 type two-stroke gas/diesel engine built in Kharkiv, whilst the 2TE116G was fitted with a Russian-designed four-stroke D4G engine from Kolomna. Work on the 2TE10G in Ukraine was halted by the lack of finance, but development of the 2TE116G is continuing at the Institute; this is concentrating on improving the engine performance.

In 1987 the Institute began development of a gas-fuelled shunting locomotive, using a TEM2Y locomotive assembled at the Bryansk plant. Following successful trials of this unit during 1989, the Ministry of Railways decided in 1990 to order a series of gas-powered shunters from Bryansk, using GDG-50 gas/diesel generator assemblies from Penza.

Various techniques for injection or mixing of the gas fuel were investigated. For traction applications it was decided to mix the compressed gas with 15% diesel fuel for ignition. Diesel fuel is used to start the engine and when idling at low revolution.

The pressure at which the compressed gas is injected into the engine can be controlled by the driver via a regulating valve. From here the gas is fed into a mixing chamber within the cylinder head and where it is combined with the diesel fuel. Final injection of the mixed fuel is controlled through automatic distributors.

To avoid the risk of explosion, the electrical equipment case must be relocated outside the engine compartment, to separate the traction generator and high voltage electrical equipment from the gas-diesel equipment. Other safety devices are also fitted.

The toxicity of the gas-diesel exhaust is significantly lower than that of a conventional diesel. CO emissions are reduced to around 40%, and NOx emissions to 35%.

Development work was completed in 1995, and the GDG-50 gas-diesel engine was then officially approved for installation in the TEM18G gas-fuelled shunting locomotive. Two prototypes were built at Bryansk in 1997-98, which passed their acceptance tests by the end of 2000.

The locomotives were then put into operation at the Khovrino locomotive depot in Moscow. Over the past three years they have demonstrated a fuel saving of between 35% and 50% compared to a diesel-engined unit, depending on the day-to-day shunting operations being undertaken.

New-generation diesel

Lyudinovo Locomotive Manufacturing Ltd is working on two designs for the next generation of diesel locomotives, in conjunction with international suppliers. The TERA main line locomotive for Russian Railways has been developed with General Motors of the USA, whilst the Eurodiesel export design is being developed with a consortium of Western European firms.

The TERA-1 prototype was completed last year, and put through its paces at the Institute's test centre in Shcherbinka, in order to evaluate tractive performance and fuel consumption. It is powered by a GM 710 G3B series two-stroke engine rated at 4150hp. The modular nature of the power pack, compared to traditional Russian engines, offers the prospect of quick and easy repairs by replacement of defective components.

The test train grossed 3000 tonnes, to which was added a VL80C electric locomotive with rheostatic braking to generate an additional load. The measured performance is shown in Fig 2. This showed that at speeds from 0 to 13 km/h, with the throttle in notch 8, TERA-1 was able to maintain an adhesive tractive force equal to 600 kN, which is no less than 75 kN per wheelset. The continuous tractive effort at a balancing speed of 18·7 km/h was 454 kN, or 56·7 kN per wheelset.

According to the researchers, these figures are noticeably higher than those achieved with the present Russian designs. The twin-unit 2TE10 and 2TE116 classes can achieve a peak tractive effort of 66·4 kN and continuous rating of 41·3 kN per wheelset.

However, the observers noted that the impressive results achieved by TERA-1 could only be achieved on clean and dry rails in the absence of sanding. When operating on wet rails without sand, the adhesive force fell, but thanks to the use of microprocessor controls, the tractive effort remained stable. TERA-1 is equipped with rheostatic braking, with stepless regulation of the braking force. This was deemed to be 'effective'.

Fuel consumption tests showed that at a measured power output of 3060 kW, the 710G3B engine used an average of 197·3g/kWh against the design value of 197·7g/kWh. When running at 60% of full power, fuel consumption rose slightly to 203·2g/kWh. When idling, fuel consumption was 11·5 kg/h against a target of 11·3 kg/h. These values offer a significant saving in fuel over the diesel engines now in use.

A number of other performance factors were also considered during the acceptance testing. At the end of the programme, the Research Institute confirmed that the TERA design achieved the ministry's requirements and would be suitable for use on the Russian rail network.

Eurodiesel consortium

In contrast to the TERA project, the aim of the Eurodiesel consortium is to develop a medium-power diesel for shunting and trip freight working at speeds up to 125 km/h. This would be aimed at customers in Germany, France, Belgium, Turkey, and other European and Asian countries. The hope is that Russian manufacturing costs will be lower than assembling the locos in Europe.

Still in the development stage, the Eurodiesel will initially be produced as a 1435mm gauge unit. It would also be offered on 1520 mm gauge, and other gauges if required, and could be fitted with a more powerful engine if necessary.

Lyudinovo is the main Russian partner in the consortium; as well as assembling the locos, it will also supply a new design of bogie with a two-stage spring suspension. Caterpillar is providing the 970 kW diesel engine, Voith the hydraulic transmission, and Knorr-Bremse the brakes. Traction control equipment is coming from Selectron and Timex.

According to the Director-General of Lyudinovo Locomotive Manufacturing Ltd, P F Baum, the consortium is currently seeking a railway operator to host the acceptance trials and commissioning. Until this has been completed, it will not be possible to sign firm contracts.

Agreements were signed at the InnoTrans 2002 show in Berlin to build 150 locomotives at a price of US$1·5m each. Baum says market surveys suggest a demand of 20 to 30 locomotives a year in Europe.

Financing has been split between the consortium partners, with Lyudinovo covering the cost of design and documentation. Voith and Caterpillar are supplying their equipment on a loan, with payments deferred by up to two years. Baum says the income from locomotive sales will be split proportionally to reflect the stake of the different companies in the consortium.

High speed operations

Following the collapse of proposals to build a dedicated high speed line between Moscow and St Petersburg, the Ministry of Railways adopted a policy of developing quasi-high speed passenger services on existing routes. The aim is to introduce 160 or 200 km/h operations on a total of 6700 route-km. The first stage covers four major corridors radiating from the capital:

  • Moscow - St Petersburg, 650 km, 200 km/h;
  • Moscow - Krasnoye, 489 km, 200 km/h;
  • Moscow - Rostov-na-Donu, 1228 km, 160 km/h;
  • Moscow - Nizhni Novgorod, 442 km, 160 km/h.

Upgrading of the Moscow - St Petersburg line for 200 km/h was completed last year, and two ER200 trainsets are are in regular operation on this route.

As yet, the Sokol 250 high speed prototype being developed by RAO VSM has not been approved for operation in revenue service. The traction and electrical performance of the prototype were assessed at Shcherbinka, and this led to a number of design changes.

During test runs on the October Railway in June 2001, the six-car trainset reached a top speed of 236 km/h. The traction motors were producing 550 kW, achieving a power factor of 0·95 at the maximum phase voltage of 750V.

The traction package for the Sokol 250 was developed by the Rubin Maritime Design Bureau. Electrically, the train is designed as a series of three-car modules, combining a driving or trailer car, a transformer car and a motor car. The power equipment and auxiliaries are carried below the floor of the transformer and motor cars to ensure an optimum centre of gravity.

Each Sokol motor car has four 675 kW liquid-cooled asynchronous traction motors, which turn at a maximum of 2850 rev/min, giving a moment of 6·65 kNm. Weighing 1295 kg each, the motors achieve an output of 0·521 kW per kg.

As befits a train intended to run 25% faster than others on the same line, the prototype has three separate braking systems: regenerative braking, electro-pneumatic disc brakes, and magnetic rail brakes on the driving trailer and transformer coaches.

For service applications the dynamic brakes are used, with the disc brakes of the unpowered axles only being blended in when the speed falls below 20 km/h. Emergency braking uses the disc brakes on all axles, plus the magnetic rail brakes at speeds greater than 5 km/h.

However, preliminary testing found that the dynamic brakes were less efficient than predicted, because the traction motors were only rated at 550 kW instead of the 675 kW envisaged. In contrast, the magnetic rail brakes were highly effective. Final conclusions about Sokol's braking will only be drawn after full-scale testing has been completed.

 

Table I. RZD electric loco types approved for series construction

Class Power Wheel Maximum One-hour Tractive supply arrange- speed rating effort ment km/h kW kN

EP1 3 kV DC Bo-Bo-Bo 140 4700 230

EP2 3 kV DC Bo-Bo-Bo 160 7200 323

EP10 Dual-system Bo-Bo-Bo 160 7200 323

EP200 25 kV 50 Hz Bo+Bo-Bo+Bo 200 8000 235

Table II. Specifications for Classes EP200 and EP201

Power supply 25 kV 50Hz

Wheel arrangement Bo+Bo-Bo+Bo

Gauge mm 1520

Wheel diameter mm 1250

Length over couplers m 25·0

Weight tonnes 172

Axleload tonnes 21·5

Continuous rating kW 7200

One-hour rating kW 8000

Power factor 0·86

EP200 EP201

Tractive effort kN

starting 313·9 382·6

one-hour 235 284

continuous 215·8 264·9

Balancing speed at continuous rating km/h 120 97

Maximum speed km/h 200 160

  • CAPTION: Series production of EP10 Bo-Bo-Bo locomotives for dual-voltage operation at up to 160 km/h should begin this year
  • CAPTION: Fig 1. Prototype eight-axle EP200 locomotive designed to haul heavy passenger trains on routes electrified at 25 kV 50 Hz

1 Cab air-conditioning

2 Auxiliary equipment

3 Pantograph

4 Auxiliary transformer

5 Air filter

6 Main air reservoir

7 High voltage equipment

8 Main circuit breaker

9 Air filter fans

10 Power conversion equipment

11 Control panels

12 Pneumatic equipment

13 Compressor

14 Control equipment

15 Batteries

16 Main transformer

17 Smoothing reactors

18 Traction motors

  • CAPTION: The prototype TERA-1 diesel locomotive powered by a General Motors 710 G3B series engine has been tested at Shcherbinka near Moscow
  • CAPTION: Inset: Fig 2. Tractive effort graph for TERA-1, showing performance in the eight control notches
  • CAPTION: RZD uses a number of locomotives powered by natural gas such as the TEM21 shunter (left). Two prototype TEM18G shunters with gas-diesel engines have been built (right)
  • CAPTION: Refurbished Class VL80M twin-unit electric locomotive for hauling freight on routes electrified at 25 kV 50 Hz

RZD tackles its motive power crisis

Shortage of investment for the past decade has left Russian Railways with an ageing fleet. Last year the Ministry of Railways approved plans to refurbish around 8000 locomotives over the next seven years, while a new generation of motive power is developed through international partnerships. Prototypes for four classes of electric loco are being tested in revenue service, and an General Motors engined heavy freight diesel has completed commissioning trials. Natural gas fuelled shunters are also under development

Les RZD s'attaquent à leur crise de la traction

Le manque d'investissements au cours de la décennie écoulée a laissé les chemins de fer russes (RZD) avec un parc vieillissant. L'an dernier, le Ministère des Transports a approuvé des plans afin de remettre environ 8000 locomotives en état au cours des sept prochaines années, tandis qu'une nouvelle génération d'engins de traction est mise au point grâce à des partenariats internationaux. Des prototypes de quatre séries de locomotives électriques sont en cours d'essais en service commercial, et une machine diesel lourde équipée d'un moteur General Motors a achevé ses essais de validation. Des locomotives de man??uvre fonctionnant au gaz naturel sont également en cours de développement

RZD begegnet Triebfahrzeugkrise

Ein Mangel an Investitionen während des letzten Jahrzehnts ist dafür verantwortlich, dass die Russischen Bahnen (RZD) eine alternde Triebfahrzeugflotte hat. Im letzten Jahr hat das Eisenbahnministerium Pläne zur Aufarbeitung von rund 8000 Lokomotiven während der nächsten sieben Jahren bewilligt. Ebenso wird eine neue Generation an Triebfahrzeugen über internationale Partnerschaften entwickelt. Prototypen von vier Baureihen elektrischer Lokomotiven werden im kommerziellen Einsatz getestet, und eine schwere Diesellok-Baureihe mit Motoren von General Motors hat die Inbetriebnahme-Tests absolviert. Erdgasbetriebene Rangierlokomotiven sind ebenfalls in Entwicklung

RZD hace frente a su crisis de locomotoras

La falta de inversión en la última década ha hecho que los ferrocarriles rusos (RZD) se encuentren con un parque obsoleto. El año pasado, el Ministerio de Ferrocarriles aprobó planes para renovar unas 8000 locomotoras en los próximos siete años, mientras que una nueva generación de locomotoras se desarrolla en colaboración con socios internacionales. Se est? n probando prototipos de cuatro series de locomotoras eléctricas en servicio comercial, y una locomotora diesel de cargas pesada equipada con un motor General Motors ha completado las pruebas para la puesta en servicio. También se est? n desarrollando locomotoras de maniobras alimentadas con gas natural