Forming part of Alstom’s Optionic Design programme, the Prima family launched at Belfort on December 1 2000 is intended to reinforce the company’s position as a major builder of locomotives. With the passenger focus increasingly turning to multiple-units and fixed-formation high-speed trains, Alstom sees considerable scope for new loco designs targeted at the freight market. Western Europe accounts for around 90% of the estimated 800m euros market for electric locos and drives, of which Alstom’s share is 25%. The multi-voltage designs are designed for interoperability with an eye to the emerging contest for international freight traffic.

Using the company’s standard IGBT-based Onix AC traction drives, the Prima range will be available in electric and diesel versions, with Bo-Bo and Co-Co wheel arrangements. Different speed and power configurations are envisaged, ranging from a proposed 9600 kW, 100 km/h heavy-haul design to a 4800 kW, 220 km/h passenger unit.

The standard bodyshell is derived from the Valencia-built GM-engined diesel locos for Israel (Co-Co and Bo-Bo) and Britain’s EWS (Class 67). Under construction at Belfort are the first two Ruston-engined Co-Co variants: 30 for Syria and 10 for Sri Lanka. Alstom is also supplying 100 locos to Iran under a deal which will see the later units assembled locally.

Development of the electric ’European Standard Freight Loco’ - Alstom’s challenge to the Siemens Taurus and EuroSprinter and the Adtranz Class 185 designs - began last year with the construction of a four-system prototype (RG 1.00 p13). This was initially equipped for 1·5 kV DC and 25 kV 50Hz and tested at Valenciennes to prove the design of the SNCF Class BB427000.

It will shortly be fitted with 3 kV DC and 15 kV AC equipment as a pilot for the BB437000 variants. Subject to signalling and train protection requirements, the loco will then be available for demonstration throughout Europe.

The high-power Astrid mixed-traffic design is also being brought into the range, with an upgrade from GTO to IGBT controls.

CAPTION: Alstom’s four-system EL4200 BAC prototype is testing key sub-systems for the Prima range

CAPTION: Alstom has already delivered six Prima DE32CAC to Syrian Railways, which designates them Class LDE-3200; a further batch of five was being prepared for dispatch from Belfort in December

CAPTION: The 10 broad-gauge Primas for Sri Lanka Government Railways are also classified DE32CAC (diesel-electric, 3 200 kW, Co-Co bogies and AC transmission), although there are detail differences from the Syrian version