Today we were invited by Vossloh Locomotives to take a look inside what is possibly the most modern locomotive factory in Europe. It surely is the newest, as the company started full production of its locomotives just two months ago. Next week we will take you on a full tour through the building, its sections and the production process of the DE18 diesel-electric mid-cab locomotives. Because this is the model that is currently under construction.
The new factory, located in Kiel-Suchsdorf has an annual production capacity of 40-50 machines and its production line is currently fully booked. We saw new 4-axle mid-cab machines in every stage of production – almost without exception locomotives for French rail operators and rail construction companies.
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Millet > RegioRail
Dark blue and grey – these are the colors of four DE18s, currently under construction for French operator RegioRail, that will lease the locomotives from Millet. The image below shows three of them in various stages of assembly. For number four the frame was completed, but parts such as bogies, hoods and the driver cab were still in different sections of the factory.
The DE18 is a highly standardised, modular locomotive. But customer-specific modifications are almost always implemented. The RegioRail machines have bogies with extra clearance underneath, so they won’t get damaged that easily when the locomotive runs over tracks on construction sites.
Construction company Eiffage has ten DE18s on order. Most of these white painted locomotives have been delivered to France by now. There they will get a black/red striping and service numbers from the batch MF409-MF418.
We were able to take a look inside the locomotive on the right, visible in the picture below. It is the designated 92 87 4185 012-9 F-ERSF, the future MF414. The 4185 015 left Kiel today, going to France.
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The Akiem order is the big fish Vossloh was able to catch back in 2015. 44 DE18 locomotives were ordered, very unique in this niche market, and since then these machines are under development. This is not a sinecure as the customer had a long list of extra features and modifications. So Vossloh decided to make the Akiem-DE18 the new standard for all its future orders. A nice example of how larger orders support manufacturers to innovate.
Below you see the first ‘Akiem-DE18’. The machine has all modifications required, but is a pre-series model property of Vossloh. Together with two other pre-series machines it will be used for test and certifications.
Full report comes next week
In the upcoming week we will release a full article on the new Vossloh factory in Kiel-Suchsdorf. Stay tuned!