posted on 17th Feb 2023 14:12
On 18 April 2019, VR Group and Stadler signed a contract worth approximately 200 million EUR for the delivery of 60 diesel-electric locomotives, with an option for a further 100 and an additional option for a maintenance contract. They are intended for service at marshalling yards, freight terminals and on non-electrified lines, which make up around 45 % of the Finnish rail network (which has a total length of around 6,000 km).
Production takes place at Stadler Albuixech (València) works. The first locomotive of this class, 2831, arrived at the port of Hanko on 1 February 2022, from where it was transported to Tampere on 2 February and then on the 14th of the month started the tests required for type approval, which took place mainly in the Tampere region. The test runs included the braking system, which was first tested in the depot and then on the track.
There were also traction tests, which monitored the behaviour of the locomotive on different lines and hauling different rakes, and running tests to check that the design suited the curves and geometry of Finnish lines. 2831 has also been tested on marshalling yards, when it moved with rakes of large weights (up to 2,000 t). The noise level of the vehicle has also been measured. The second locomotive, 2832, was transported to Tampere on 19 April 2022 and the third one, 2833, on 12 July 2022 (but before that it was subjected to climate tests at the RTA Rail Tec Arsenal in Wien). All three machines were used for testing.
The Class Dr19 received a type approval on 7 December 2022, however the testing on the Finnish network continues, in freight traffic - both mainline and shunting duty, being also used for training purposes. Meantime already the fourth and fifth Dr19s arrived in Finland, in November and December 2022. The deployment of the locomotives is based on customer needs, with the most efficient use of the locomotives being pursued.
The Class Dr19 is designed to operate at temperatures down to -40 °C. The locomotives have a length of 18,000 mm over the buffers, a weight in working order of 88 t and a maximum speed of 120 km/h. The locomotive is powered by two Caterpillar C32 engines, each rated at 950 kW. The maximum starting tractive effort is 346 kN. This, together with the individual power control of each axle, enables the locomotives the trainloads of up to 2,000 t. The machines are fitted with on-board ETCS, together with the Finnish Type JKV ATP which is used with STM module, both systems delivered by Hitachi Rail.
The Class Dr19 also offers the possibility of using a remote control. In operation, up to three locomotives can work in multiple. The Dr19 can run on biodiesel as well as conventional diesel. The design is modular and also allows hybrid operation. VR engineers are now investigating whether it would be possible to create a version with traction batteries stored under the bonnet on one side of the locomotive, allowing emission-free operation on sidings and in halls. The batteries could be charged from an external source or from the locomotive's own diesel genset.
The series numbering will be 2831 - 2890. In the long term, the Class Dr19 will replace most of the old diesel fleet produced in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Batch deliveries will start this year. The goal is to have all 60 machines in service in Finland by the end of 2026 (initially the deliveries were scheduled until late 2025). VR expects the need for its diesel locomotives to drop from the current almost 200 to those 60, as a result of further network electrification and other factors. Nevertheless, as a precaution, VR has placed an option with Stadler for a further 100 Class Dr19s, the exercise of which will depend on specific conditions in the future.
Finnish rolling stock maintenance company, VR FleetCare, has signed in December 2021 an agreement with VR Group on the Class Dr19 maintenance. The agreement period is 10 years and will enter into force in 2023 when the locomotives are in commercial service.