posted on 7th Apr 2020 23:14
The contract for the certification procedure was signed in August 2011 by LKZ and RS FZhT. The same month LKZ sent TE33A-0080 to VNIKTI in Kolomna for the first phase of certification testing, and the locomotive was thus conveniently near at hand for exhibition at Shcherbinka during EXPO 1520 in September. The certification procedure involved several major Russian railway institutions, including the VNIKTI, VNIIZhG, VELNII and NIIAS.
This first phase of testing resulted in a number of observations being supplied by the Russians to LKZ, regarding design parameters. All of these were taken into account and over a six-month period the manufacturer’s technicians modified the design of the Class TE33A developing a new sub-Class TE33AS, which incorporates the following major changes:
- modifications influencing the EMC values of locomotive were realised, this involving the shielding of certain cables and the provision of housings for all external cabling. A team of VELNII technicians then tested the modified locomotive at the LKZ works and confirmed that the safety standards for EMC were met completely as a result of these modifications.
- the temperature of the exhaust gases was reduced by the installation of an additional heat exchanger behind the exhaust silencer,
- the temperature of the exhaust manifold surface of the diesel engine was reduced using higher quality insulating materials,
- an alarm was installed to indicate when a short-circuit occurred in the power circuits,
- last but not least some of the ergonomic characteristics of the cabs were modified. For instance, the headroom was raised by 150 mm. The windscreens and side windows were replaced by windows which have the RS FZhT certificates. The driving seats were replaced by more comfortable ones, and improved thermal and acoustic insulation for the roof and floor was fitted, using materials which are more fireproof. The upper reflectors were fitted with LEDs instead of light bulbs.
In late 2012 LKZ started to build a modified version of the Class TE33A, taking into account all these considerations. The resultant machine was re-designated Class ТЭ33АС. The Latin transcription of this is TE33AS, where „S“ stands for „Sertifikatsionny“ since these machines are also modified for service in Russia.
On 4 March 2013 TE33AS-0001 realised a test run between Pavlodar, Ayagoz and Semipalatinsk, a distance of around 5,000 km. Following this, on 5 April 2013 the machine was sent to Kolomna for the second phase of certification testing. It was hoped that Russian certification would be granted sometime during the third quarter of 2013. TE33AS-0001 returned to Astana in July 2013, and was incorporated in the KTZ fleet, operating on the Almaty - Ayagoz line.
The new testing confirmed that the modified locomotive was compliant with current safety norms and certification requests. However certification was not granted until mid-April 2014 since certification of certain components was still awaited, for example Wabtec did not realise the certification of its braking components until then (there were changes to the original U.S. brake respecting the Russian requirements).
The first contract for a private company was expected to come from E.R.S., the largest private railfreight operator in Estonia specialising in the transport of oil products, being a subsidiary of Vopak E.O.S. In May 2013 E.R.S. announced that it was planning to place an order for up to 15 locomotives with deliveries in 2013/14. The delivery of ten TE33As was anticipated in 2013, but by the end of the year none had arrived in Estonia. Neither Vopak E.O.S. nor LKZ did not explain what has happened.
LKZ then expected that the E.R.S. Evolutions will be built in 2014, following the realisation of several modifications to their construction. One of those could involve adding supplementary ballast, because during the testing of TE33A-0080 in Estonia between January and March 2012 the locomotive’s initial axle-load of 23 t was considered to be insufficient. The USA diesel locomotives imported earlier to Estonia and being used by then EVR Cargo (now Operail) have axle-loads of up to 31 t, enabling them to replace one two-section locomotive on freights.
However, in the end E.R.S. decided not to buy the locomotives, on account of two conditions in the modified contract. First, the locomotives had to be certified under the obligatory Russian system realised by RS FZhT. Second, the prime movers had to comply with the EU’s Euro IIIA exhaust emission standards. GE was unable to meet the latter requirement, so the rebuilt locomotives were not accepted by E.R.S. and subsequently were taken over by KTZ.
In 2014 LKZ rebuilt ten Class TE33A locomotives, which had originally been built in 2013 for E.R.S. They received RS FZhT approval for an initial three-year period in August 2014 and were re-designated and renumbered TE33AS-0002 to 0011. Their numbering sequence follows on from that of the TE33AS-0001 prototype. In March 2015 they were allocated to Almaty depot.
The article will continue.