škoda 2024

Growing interest in ELL locomotives

posted on 19th Dec 2023 17:31

Recently, there has been a growing interest in leasing of Siemens Vectron locomotives from European Locomotive Leasing in the Czech Republic: the number of enquiries from Czech operators continues to grow and the reasons for this are explained in the following paragraphs by Christian Kern, Managing Director of ELL Austria.

ELL locomotives are ready for the technological requirements of the coming years

One of the highly topical requirements for locomotives deployed in the Czech Republic is that they should be equipped with the on-board ETCS according to the latest specifications from 1 January 2025 on the most important corridors in the Czech Republic. ELL is ideally prepared for this task, which is made easier by the fact that its fleet, which currently comprises approximately 200 locomotives (and is growing), consists exclusively of Vectrons from Siemens.

Christian Kern explains the advantages of this single platform orientation: 'The Vectron is not only a modern and reliable locomotive, but thanks to its sophisticated modular design, these vehicles can also be efficiently adapted or upgraded to new technical requirements and can therefore be used very flexibly in different European countries. This means that we can always offer our customers locomotives of the highest standard. That is why ELL locomotives already meet the high requirements for traffic management systems in the Czech Republic, which will be valid from 2025.'

However, conversions and upgrades of vehicles due to new technical requirements also entail high investment requirements. And Christian Kern is critical: 'Safety is of course the first priority in this industry. I am therefore fundamentally in favour of technical innovations that increase the safety and efficiency of rail transport. But the problem is that we do not have a standardised plan in Europe for the introduction of the latest generation of ATPs, namely ETCS.'

Kern sees this as a threat to the whole industry. National regulations complicate rail transport and therefore also increase costs for the rail sector: 'Today, thanks to various national and international initiatives, we have the opportunity to shift freight transport from road to rail. However, we need to make sure that we do not over-complicate things so that rail remains competitive with road transport.'

The need for locomotive renewal in the Czech Republic

Christian Kern sees another reason for the growing demand in the Czech Republic in the current structure of the operating vehicles: 'The locomotive fleet in the Czech Republic and the rest of Europe is outdated. We can cover this need for renewal with our locomotives. The investment in renewing the operator‘s own fleet is huge. Not least because of rising prices and financing costs, it often makes more strategic sense for rail operators to lease locomotives than to buy them.'

Greater flexibility thanks to leased locomotives

ELL's customers also lease locomotives to bridge bottlenecks in their fleets and cover peak periods. According to Christian Kern, former CEO of ÖBB, this makes sense: 'Leasing allows our customers to remain more flexible in their core business, which is rail transport. The average customer contract lasts three to four years. After this period, the contracts are either extended or the locomotives are leased to other customers.'

ELL guarantees the availability and perfect condition of its locomotives for the entire duration of the contract. To this end, ELL cooperates with around 35 partner service centres throughout Europe and also has its own highly qualified service technicians. Christian Kern sees this as one of the key success factors: 'Thanks to our dense network of workshops, we can carry out complete locomotive maintenance very quickly and efficiently. And we can do this from the Czech Republic to the Netherlands and from Germany to Italy. This results in more than 95 % locomotive availability for our customers and, in turn, in satisfied users for us.'

ELL now has customers in 16 European countries, including state-owned and private Czech companies that have been customers for many years. And several more are likely to be added in the future.

On 30 November 2023, ELL and Siemens Mobility signed a framework agreement for the delivery of up to 200 additional Vectron locomotives. These will come in different voltage variants for passenger and freight operation and will include a Dual Mode version. At the same time, 60 machines were firmly ordered and will be delivered progressively from 2025 onwards. By 2027, ELL will own 301 locomotives and operate the largest fleet of Vectrons, a number that will increase if the option is confirmed.


1) Czech Railways has been using Vectrons from ELL, a total of ten ones, since 2017, when ČD started a ten-year lease agreement for 193 289 - 298. In August 2021, this fleet reached 10 million km. Currently, its mileage is 17 million km. The photo shows Vectron 193 292 of ELL, on hire by ČD, hauling IC 503 'Ostravan' service formed by an InterJet non-traction multiple unit, at Červenka on 20 February 2023.

2) The European Locomotive Leasing Group, one of the leading asset managers in the European rail market, based in Wien and München, is accelerating its international expansion. By 2025, it intends to invest up to 315 million EUR in the expansion of its fleet. The photo from Ústí nad Labem on 19 November 2023 shows Vectron 193 297 at the head of EC 379 "Berliner" Kiel Hbf - Praha Hbf.

3) ELL currently has the largest fleet of Siemens Vectron locomotives in Europe and intends to strengthen this market position with its investment strategy. In concrete terms, this means that additional Vectrons are currently being delivered to the existing 201 locomotives so that by 2027 ELL‘s Vectron fleet will have grown to 301 locomotives. Christian Kern says: 'Focusing on a standardised, single locomotive type allows us to achieve maximum efficiency, maximum reliability and perfect service. The investment shows that our owners Axa and Credit Agricole/Predica have full confidence in the company and our business model'. Locomotive 193 222 of ELL, then hired by RegioJet, in use in the Public Banking Service on the Brno - Kutná Hora line: here on 24 June 2021 on the banking of a train (led by ÖBB Vectron 1293 175) shortly before Kutná Hora.



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