First ICE L vehicles on test

posted on 1st Aug 2023 11:11

In June and July, the first vehicles from the DB order for Type Talgo 230 rakes, which also includes TRAVCA locomotives, were sent from Spain by Patentes Talgo for various tests: At the end of June, five cars went to the climatic test facility in Wien, in early July, the first complete ICE L rake left for Germany, followed only about two weeks later by a second set there, as well as a Class 105 locomotive, which, however, went to Austria again.

First ICE L cars and rake

The first to cross the Spanish border were the five cars from train 03, which headed for the RTA Rail Tec Arsenal wind and climate test tunnel, where they arrived on 26 June 2023. The first complete 17-car non-traction multiple unit (NMU) was then transported, without the locomotive, from the Las Matas plant (where it was delivered this February from the Rivabellosa works) and has the following composition - listed in order from the first-class Apzf driving trailer to the Class WRz BordRestaurant car to the second-class Bpdz end car:

D-DB 73 80 80-91 001-6 Apzf896.1,
D-DB 73 80 17-91 201-0 Apz895.1,
D-DB 73 80 17-91 101-2 Apz895.1,
D-DB 73 80 88-91 101-6 WRz894.1,
D-DB 73 80 84-91 001-2 Bpbsz893.1,
D-DB 73 80 84-91 201-2 Bpz892.9,
D-DB 73 80 84-91 701-7 Bpz892.7,
D-DB 73 80 28-91 801-4 Bpz892.1,
D-DB 73 80 28-91 701-6 Bpz892.3,
D-DB 73 80 28-91 601-8 Bpz892.1,
D-DB 73 80 28-91 501-0 Bpz892.3,
D-DB 73 80 28-91 401-3 Bpz892.1,
D-DB 73 80 28-91 301-5 Bpz892.3,
D-DB 73 80 28-91 201-7 Bpz892.5,
D-DB 73 80 28-91 101-9 Bpz892.3,
D-DB 73 80 28-91 001-1 Bpz892.1,
D-DB 73 80 84-91 301-6 Bpdz891.1.

The journey of approximately 2,000 km began on 3 July 2023 at Las Matas (north-western suburb of Madrid), where this standard gauge rake set off loaded on wide gauge Vevey transport bogies, hauled by a Renfe Mercancías locomotive, towards the border crossing station of Irún, where it arrived on the morning of 5 July 2023. Subsequently, a special mobile unloading ramp was assembled on one of the tracks in the northern part of the Irún station, with the help of which the rake was moved to standard gauge on 6 July.

On the same day, the first ICE L rake was towed to Hendaye border station, together with the braking wagons. Then, following preparations by Talgo, the rake, led by TRAXX of DB Cargo France, left for Paris on 10 July and arrived in Saarbrücken late in the evening on 11 July. Here the train was taken over by RailAdventure, which brought the train to Braunschweig, where it has its "Zughotel", as RA has named its workshops and a large storage area on the eastern part of the main station, which is fenced off and guarded by security and cameras.

In fact, RailAdventure provides traction not only for the transports, but also for the testing of the ICE L trains (similar to other manufacturers' vehicle projects). Static tests have started with the first unit in the "train hotel" at Braunschweig and after its completion, the rake 01 will head to Żmigród, where test runs will be carried out at speeds of up to 160 km/h.

Second ICE L rake

Two weeks later, on 18 July, a second ICE L rake arrived in Irún, this time directly from the Rivabellosa plant (near Miranda de Ebro, south of Bilbao). The following day, the unloading ramp was again installed on the designated track at  Irún station and on 20 July, Talgo was moved to 1,435 mm gauge and ran to Germany, also in Braunschweig, for initial static tests.

First Class 105 locomotive

Almost simultaneously, the first Class 105 TRAVCA  locomotive was shipped from Spain. This journey differed from the above-mentioned transports of complete NMUs in many respects, as the first part - in Spain - was made by road. Locomotive 105 019, whose destination was also RTA Rail Tec Arsenal, left Las Matas on 17 July on a trailer bound for the north-east of the country, to Figueres near the Mediterranean coast. The road journey took four days as it was only possible to travel at night, with the maximum speed on the motorway limited to 50 km/h.

In Figueres, the locomotive was brought to the base of Línia Figueres Perpinyà (LFP Perthus), which operates and maintains the Figueres - Perpignan high-speed line (about 44 km), as the Spanish name suggests. Here, TRAVCA was set to the normal gauge track on 21 July and then on the 24th with two EURO6000 locomotives of Transfesa Logistics (in which DB is the majority owner) was transported to Perpignan. On 25 - 26 July, it crossed the route to Mannheim on a freight train behind a DB Cargo France‘s TRAXX. From there, on 26 July, it was transported in another freight train behind a TRAXX of DB Cargo Deutschland to Nürnberg and then, after ten days, arrived in Wien on 27 July.


The following programme applies to the testing of ICE L trains: 
- June to October 2023 - testing of cars from rake 03 and locomotive 105 019 at RTA RailTec Arsenal,
- August to October 2023 - testing of unit 01 in Żmigród,
- January to May 2024 tests of locomotive 105 019 on the Faurei circuit,
- September 2023 to March 2024 test runs of rakes 01 and 02 on the DB Netz network at speeds up to 230 km/h. During the homologation runs, the ICE L train is to reach a maximum speed of 253 km/h.

Into service

DB has so far ordered 79 Talgo 230 rakes with TRAVCA locomotives, which will have traction equipment for 15 kV 16.7 Hz, 25 kV 50 Hz and 1.5 kV DC voltages. This is on the basis of a framework contract with Talgo dated February 2019 for up to 100 of these trainsets, when the first 23 ones were ordered under the then ECx designation, after which DB announced on 17 May 2023 that it had ordered a further 56 trains. 

All of them are to be delivered by 2030 and represent the largest train order for Patentes Talgo in its more than 80-year history: the first 23 trains are worth around 550 million EUR  and the subsequent 56 trains will be worth around 1.4 billion EUR. And there is also an option for up to 21 of the remaining ICE Ls.

Regular service is now planned to start from the end of 2024 on the Berlin - Amsterdam route (originally scheduled to start in December 2023). Subsequently, various domestic services are to follow, which will include some non-electrified sections, so 21 Vectron Dual Mode locomotives were ordered last September to cover these. Despite the ordering of the aforementioned 56 ICE Ls, no Vectron DMs are planned to be ordered, as these additional trains are to run only on electrified lines, which include the intended international services to København and Wien. Otherwise, the Vectron DMs will be used as rescue locomotives and will replace older diesel locomotives. 

Photo captions:

1) The first cars to leave Spain were five selected from the 03 set, which represent the basic types of carriages in ICE L and were bound for RTA Rail Tec Arsenal. This quintet arrived in Saarbrücken in the evening of 24 June, and then reached Vienna via the Mannheim Rangierbahnhof and Passau marshalling yards on 25 June. The picture shows this transport crossing the viaduct at Bietigheim-Bissingen (about 20 km north of Stuttgart).

2) The shortened Talgo 230 from the rake 03, with the driving trailer D-DB 73 80 80-91 003-2 Apzf, shown at Mannheim Rbf on 25 June 2023.

3) The first complete 17-car ICE L rake on its way from Las Matas crosses the border bridge over the Bidasoa river between Spain and France on 6 July 2023, before it reaches the sea in the Bay of Biscay. The train is just leaving Irún station - behind the billboard on the right is the Technicentre Renfe depot. The Talgo driving trailer is already in France, and the front of the train with the braking wagons on the left out of picture is already entering Gare de Hendaye. Behind the stone bridge pictured here, on which lie two normal gauge tracks, is another steel bridge carrying a narrow gauge track of  Euskotren. The 1,000 mm gauge line terminates with a double-track station at Hendaye (Basque: Hendaia) and is part of the Metro San Sebastian (Basque: Metro Donostialdea) network, also called Topo, linking the towns of San Sebastian in the Donostialdea district, Irún in the Basque province of Guipuscoa and Hendaye in the French department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.

4) Moving of the first ICE L rake from wide gauge Vevey bogies to normal gauge in the northern part of Irún station on 6 July 2023 (the CAF production plant is in the left background behind the train). The rake was moved by an Adif diesel shunter onto the three-rail track 43, which is fitted with a 1,668 and 1,435 mm gauge, as are several other tracks in the station which also lead to the depot or some sidings and allow the passage of standard gauge vehicles towards Hendaye. On the left of the photo is a mobile unloading ramp, against which the train is pulled from behind (from the driving trailer) by a Zephir road-rail tractor. The photo shows the Bpdz 84-91 301 end car.

5) During moving to the 1,435 mm track the train is pushed from behind by a Zephir road-rail tractor (only the last cars were dealt by the rake being pulled by a diesel locomotive attached to the Bpdz 84-91 301 end car).

6) This is the moment when the first Vevey bogie is bolted to the unloading ramp via the side consoles with the 1,435 mm gauge track. Then, with the help of pneumatic cylinders in the Vevey bogie, the arms, in which the wheelsets (wheels) of the car were previously fixed, are lifted to a horizontal position. The rake is pulled against the ramp and the first wheelset of the first Talgo bogie can then cross the ramp by a length corresponding to the Talgo bogie wheelbase.

7) Subsequently, the second Vevey bogie is bolted to the first one, the arms are raised on the second Vevey bogie, and the second wheelset of the first Talgo bogie can move towards the ramp on the resulting 'track', this time by a distance corresponding to the wheelbase between the rodales.

8) In this way, carriage by carriage, the Talgo rake is already sliding down the ramp on the weave to a track gauge of 1,435 mm, as shown in the photo, taken in the view towards Spain. It is then pulled off this track and a locomotive is attached to the train‘s front end for the journey to France.

9) The situation with the Vevey bogies under the rodal of the 13th car (Bpbsz 84-91 001, left) and 14th car (WRz 88-91 101). The transport bogies are called after their manufacturer at the time, which was Ateliers de constructions mécaniques de Vevey (ACMV), based in Vevey near Lausanne; however, the factory closed in 1992.

10) The rake on a 1,435 mm track gauge in the view taken towards Spain.

11) The first ICE L rake waiting on 7 July 2023 at Hendaye for its further run to France.

12 + 13) The TRAXX E186 341 of DB Cargo France, still in the ECR (Euro Cargo Rail) livery, carries the first ICE L unit from Hendaye through the south of France on 10 July 2023, here near Ychoux, in a section with typical arched poles of the 1.5 kV DC overhead line. In this train, according to SNCF regulations, a total of 28 braking wagons were included, fourteen at each end of the Talgo being transported, whose brake could not be used during the transport.

14) Premiere of the ICE L on the DB Netz network: the first Talgo 230 unit during transport by RailAdventure (RA) from Saarbrücken to Braunschweig. The train, headed by 183 500, is pictured between Fulda and  Hünfeld on 12 July 2023. At the rear end of the train is incorporated locomotive 190 311, which served as a braking vehicle together with five flat wagons. 190 311 is since May 2023 the second Type ES64U4 Taurus owned by RailAdventure, joining 183 500, which RA acquired in early 2019. 

15 + 16) Moments from the transport of 105 019 to Wien. Here is shown arrival at Figueres in the morning hours of 21 July 2023.

17) TRAVCA 105 019 at Figueres LFP base on 21 July 2023. The photo is looking towards France, on the Catalan side of the Pyrenees, where the 1,435 mm gauge Figueres - Perpignan HSL, opened for regular service in December 2010, uses the 8.3 km Perthus tunnel, named after the nearby border town of Le Perthus.

18 to 20) TRAVCA 105 019 at Figueres LFP base, being lifted from the trailer on 21 July 2023.

21 + 22) TRAVCA 105 019 at Figueres LFP base being railed on the 1,435 mm track on 21 July 2023.

23 + 24) 105 019, after being railed, was placed between two EURO6000 locomotives of Transfesa Logistics (on lease from Alpha Trains) and transported from Figueres to Perpignan. The photo was taken on 24 July 2023 before departure from LFP Perthus, with 91 87 0006 009-1 (shortly 006 009 or 6009) at the front and 91 87 0006 006-7 (006 006 or 6006) at the rear as the braking locomotive.

25) Then on 25 July the TRAVCA departed Perpignan for Mannheim, this time incorporated in a freight train behind TRAXX 185 165 of DB Cargo France (in ECR livery), as shown in the photo taken near Leucate, north of Perpignan.

26) 105 019 was transported from Mannheim to Nürnberg in a DB Cargo Deutschland train, behind locomotive 185 178 - the photo was taken on 26 July 2023 near Edingen-Neckarhausen, southeast of Mannheim.

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