VR Stadler Dr19 locomotive

FINLAND: The first of 60 Class Dr19 diesel locomotives ordered by national railway VR for shunting, freight and local passenger operations has arrived in Tampere for testing.

Five of the 1 524 mm gauge centre-cab locomotives are scheduled to be delivered from Stadler’s Valencia plant this year, ready to enter commercial service from 2023; the rest are now expected to arrive by the end of 2026. The €220m contract signed in April 2019 includes an option for VR to order a further 100 locomotives.

The 18 m long, 88 tonne Dr19s are designed for a maximum speed of 120 km/h, and winterised for use in temperatures down to -40ºC. Teltronic is supplying TETRA voice and data radio equipment, and Hitachi Rail STS the train control equipment compatible with ETCS Baseline 3.6 as well as the JKV national train protection system. The locos are to be maintained by VR FleetCare under an agreement running for 10 years from 2023.

VR Stadler Dr19 locomotive on skates

Ilkka Heiskanen, VR’s Senior Vice-President, Train Operations & Safety, said the Dr19s would mainly be used for freight, offering twice the haulage capacity of the 40 to 60 year old locomotives they will replace, as well as significantly lower particulate emissions and NOx emissions 80% lower. Up to three locomotives will be able to operate in multiple.

VR said it aimed to maximise electric haulage, but other traction would still be needed because little more than half of the Finnish network has been electrified. The Dr19s have been designed so that the diesel engine can be replaced by ‘a more climate-friendly energy source’ once competitive and reliable alternatives become available.