You may know it as ‘ST44’, ‘M62’, ‘V200’, ‘Szergej‘, ‘Taigatrommel’ or maybe ‘Gagarin’; Some of the many names given to the six-axle diesel locomotives built by Ługanskij tiepłowozostroitielnyj zawod in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Several machines are still going strong, operated by by many different (private) freight operators, predominantly in eastern Europe. Their mechanics are indestructible, a solid base several modernisation projects, including conversion into a 3kV electric. Polish freight operator Rail Polska has decided to do exactly that; this is de 207E, the electric six-axle ‘Gagarin’.
It is a project initiated by Rail Polska when starting a deep modernisation project of ST44s with VIS Systems, according to rynek-kolejowy.pl. As many parts as possible were built and deliverd by Polish subcontractors, making it a true Polish project. The rebuilding itself was done by Rail Polska’s factory in Włosienica.
Why would you go through all the efforts to put as many modern components in an old locomotive? The answer is simple; it is cheap. You’ll get a six-axle 3kV DC electric with a 2.4 MW power rating for half of the price compared to a newly-built locomotive. The top speed of the locomotive will be 100 km/u. It will not be TSI compliant.
Rail Polska has the exclusive rights to the concept. It plans to rebuilt several dozen of machines, for its own fleet, and for selling them to other operators as well.