The Czech national railways (České dráhy, ČD) has decided to buy a Siemens Vectron locomotive for the VUZ Velim test center. Interesting is that it is not a new one, plus, ČD will also operate the locomotive in regular service.
Title picture: A photoshop of a Vectron and the VUZ Velim livery made by Railcolor
Two different purposes
The VUZ Velim testing center, a 100% subsidiary of ČD, needs a multisystem locomotive to test vehicles on the circuit in various pulling and braking modes. ČD has therefore decided to purchase a Siemens Vectron locomotive. Not a new one, but a machine currently in use as testbed locomotive by Siemens itself. Siemens confirms it will hand-over 193 902 to ČD by the end of the year. It is expected that the locomotive will spend around 20% of its time at the test center, resulting in an 80% availability for ČD’s domestic and international passenger trains.
The multi-system locomotive can be used testing all four main voltage systems in use in Europe, including 1,5kV DC used in France or the Netherlands, which will broaden the testing options for VUZ Velim. It also has the latest ETCS Baseline 3 installed and its maximum speed will be increased to 210 km/h.
The Skoda locomotive currently allocated at the test center, 124 601-6 (photo below), will thus be replaced. Interestingly, this locomotive set a speed record at the test center back in 1972. It reached 219 km/h, a record broken that was later broken by the Pendolino EMU in 2004 (237 km/h).
VUZ Velim test center locomotives have an attractive red/white/blue livery:
ČD and the Vectron
The Vectron and the Czech national railways are not a new combination. But the operator did not own such machines up until now. Its current fleet of 10 is being leased from ELL (193 289-298) and used for the Prague – Hamburg EuroCity trains. Freight operator ČD Cargo does own such machines, it has 12 in its fleet.
A similar situation exists regarding Siemens ES64U4 locomotives. ČD is leasing seven locomotives from ÖBB for Railjet services to Prague, but it now also owns two locomotives of the same type that it acquired from RTS (1216 902–903).