[CH] An update from Yverdon-les-Bains; SBB Re460 modernization speeds up

On 30.08.2017 we paid a visit to the SBB workshops at Yverdon-les-Bains in Switzerland. Here the Swiss railways work on revitalising their iconic Re460 electric locomotives and make them fit for another twenty years of service. After three years, the modernization program has now reached its series production phase.

At this moment four units are under (re)construction at Yverdon-les-Bains. From now on, two locomotives will be outshopped monthly, until the whole series of 119 units is overhauled. In 2014, the designated 460 084 was the first to be completed. This machine can be seen as the ‘prototype’ for the modernization process. Based on the findings and experiences with this locomotive, the final planning could be made.

SBB 460 026 at Yverdon-les-Bains on 30.08.2017 – Photo: Theo Stolz

An important factor in the process is still instalment of a new IGBT traction convertor. Back in 2014, SBB started a tender process for new convertors, that eventually was won by ABB, but as such a process takes time, it was decided to modernise the first 11 locomotives while maintaining there old GTO convertors. Nine of them have already returned to service, two more will be delivered in September. They will get the new IGBTs in 2022, after the modernisation of all other machines is completed. An overview:

SBB 460 007 (without cab) and 460 117 at Yverdon-les-Bains on 30.08.2017 – Photo: Theo Stolz

Certification after IGBT installation
In 2016, SBB completed the modernisation of 460 010, no. 9 in the process, being the prototype loco for the overhaul WITH IGBT convertors. During the summer the machine was released from work and as a new homologation was required, test runs were started. Meanwhile, the 010 got its certification, but it is not possible yet to operate the locomotive using ETCS.

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Front numbers, yes or no?
It is not that easy to distinguish a modernized locomotive from an old-skool one. Aesthetically, the SBB logo placed on the center of the nose is the biggest different compared to the old design. Also, SBB decided to modify the design slightly during the modernisation process. Only the first six machines (including the IGBT 460 010) got a service number up front, placed just above the right head light. The design improved we think, better balanced, but for the fans it will become harder to identify the locomotives…

Learn more about the SBB Re 460 series on Railcolor.net

SBB 460 001 at Yverdon-les-Bains on 30.08.2017 – Photo: Theo Stolz