škoda 2024

First ČD Class 680 Pendolino with ETCS on test

posted on 12th Feb 2024 16:06

On 22 January 2024, Pendolino 680.004 arrived at VUZ Velim, which was the first of its class to be equipped with the ETCS OBU. The tests are being carried out by ČD - Telematika, which in April 2022 was awarded the contract for retrofitting the ETCS to the then seven Pendolinos. 

The word "then" recalls the unfortunate fact that not long afterwards, on 27 June, unit 680.006 was damaged in a collision with a ČD Cargo locomotive 742.254 in Bohumín at the start of the journey of SuperCity 516 service, so that the two front cars were cancelled, as a result of which the number of operational Pendolinos dropped to six and the remaining cars from 680.006 are serving as a reserve. Due to the train length, two ETCS sets will be installed on each unit, which also means two EVCs (Europen Vital Computer), two Czech Type LS06 ATPs, two Teloc juridical recording units, etc.

The prototype retrofit on 680.004 was carried out in the Praha Jih (south) depot, where the work started on 6 September 2023. The batch installations will be carried out by ČMŽO - elektronika in Hranice na Moravě, but commissioning tests will be carried out in Praha.

The supplier of the ETCS OBU is Alstom, which built the Class 680s at its Savigliano plant. The Atlas product used is adapted for version 3.6.0, the installation of which is simpler than other retrofits  because the Pendolinos were already designed from the factory to incorporate the ETCS (its previous version), however this was not fitted at that time. 

On the other hand, it will be necessary to deal with requirements that do not exist in other vehicles, e. g. the vehicle centre of gravity must be precisely maintained due to the bodyshell tilting, which requires careful placement of the new ETCS components to take into account the effect of their weight.

Therefore, 'just' the installation, testing and approval of the on-board ETCS will be sufficient to achieve a maximum speed of up to 200 km/h. The aim is that the retrofit of the ETCS OBUs should not take more than two timetables, since for batch installations it is envisaged to take two units out of service (more precisely 2 + 2 + 1 + damaged 680.006), which will mean deploying of other trains.

680.004 will be tested on the VUZ circle until 13 February. Then, on 15 February, an test run will be made on the Správa železnic network in the section Cerhenice - Havlíčkův Brod and return, i. e. under both (3 + 25 kV) voltages and in each direction of travel.

This will be followed by a test operation in Switch-Off mode, i. e. with the ETCS OBU in isolation. ESC (ETCS System Compatibility) tests are planned for the end of May. The switchover to Switch-On mode is planned for the third quarter of this year.

In the meantime, batch installations of the on-board ETCS will start at the end of February. The intention is to have five units in Switch-On mode by the end of 2024, i. e. 680.004 and four more retrofitted units. The last unit and one front car from the damaged 680.006 are due to be completed in the first quarter of 2025. This rapid progress of the work has been made possible by the strong commitment of all participants.

The Class 680 units have been approved in the Czech Republic for 200 km/h since the start of regular service in December 2005 (their maximum design speed is 230 km/h), but the current LS90 ATP only allows a maximum speed of 160 km/h.

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