posted on 27th Oct 2022 08:36
At InnoTrans 2022, Vossloh Locomotives presented its new name, Vossloh Rolling Stock, for the first time and also exhibited two locomotives - the DE 18 and the completely new Modula EBB.
Along with the new name, a new company motto, Sustainability in motion, was also introduced, as well as a new logo to represent the letter "V" (Vossloh) in motion. Although the company has been part of the CRRC group since May 2020, the new Chinese owner did not require its initials to be included in the new name, so Vossloh was retained for commercial reasons.
The latter appeared in the Kiel plant's name in 1998, when Vossloh acquired it from Siemens, which brought about the renaming from Siemens Schienenfahrzeugtechnik (SFT, Rolling Stock Technology) to Vossloh Schienenfahrzeugtechnik (VSFT). The factory, located in Kiel-Friedrichsort in the north-east of the city since 1918, was given the business name Vossloh Locomotives in 2003.
The acquisition was made by this world-renowned manufacturer of components and technology for rail infrastructure (founded in 1888 by Eduard Vossloh) as part of its expansion at the beginning of the millennium, when it also bought the Albuixech works (north of Valéncia) from Alstom in 2005, which was then called Vossloh España or Vossloh Rail Vehicles and was part of the newly created Vossloh Transportation division.
In 2014, the Vossloh Group decided to build a new locomotive building facility in Kiel-Suchsdorf (northwest of the city), where production then began in January 2018. After reassessing its expansion plans with the aim of focusing only on its core business, rail infrastructure, in the future, the Vossloh Group began to dispose of its now "surplus" companies as part of a restructuring from 2014, with the aim of dissolving the Vossloh Transportation division as soon as possible.
As a result, for example, the Albuixech site was acquired by Stadler in November 2015 and the Kiel locomotive factory by CRRC in May 2020, thus bringing about another change of ownership at the time of the 150th anniversary of railway production in that city, as shown in the diagram attached. The company literally took a second wind at this point, as Vossloh had not invested much in the long-term development of this (brand new) factory during the long years of searching for a new owner.
The result was a certain stagnation, although new diesel locomotives were still coming out of Kiel, initially represented by a family of five types: the three-axle dieselhydraulic Type G 6, the four-axle dieselhydraulic Types G 12 and G 18 and the four-axle dieselelectric Types DE 12 and DE 18. Dieselhydraulic locomotives have gradually disappeared from Vossloh Locomotives' production as customers have switched to the more energy and economically advantageous dieselelectric locomotives, so that at InnoTrans 2018 one G 6 and one DE 18 were still on display, together with a Smart Hybrid module as an option, but since then only the Type DE 18 has been the flagship product from Kiel.
Since 2010, when the latter became the standard product of Vossloh Locomotives for European railways, 150 DE 18 locomotives have been produced (at both factories, old and new) and a further ten are now on order. In 2018 Vossloh said it had orders for 110 both DE 18s and the less powerful DE 12s. This means that in about four years another 40 locomotives have been ordered, an average of 10 annualy.
This result should be helped by the aforementioned second wind, as CRRC has brought not only finance for the development of Kiel factory, but also new ideas and know-how. This is reflected in the massive move towards dual-power locomotives, which have been incorporated into the new Modula family, the first prototype of which was on display in Berlin this year. The locomotive on display here is in fact also the first example of the DM 20 (Dual Mode, power output of around 2,000 kW) electro-diesel locomotive, which was originally in development by Vossloh Locomotives from 2010, then evolved into the DM 30 project before being discontinued.
A New Development
In the context of the worldwide growth in interest in dual-power vehicles and alternative drives, the project was resurrected again in 2017, whereupon the concept was presented at InnoTrans 2018 in a more sophisticated design schemes, with an output in diesel mode of 900 kW and in electric mode of 2,100 kW under 15 kV 16.7 Hz. At that time, Vossloh Locomotives stated that the DM 20 prototype would be built in 2019; this finally happened this year and under a new owner.
Work on the new family began shortly after the takeover of the Kiel plant by CRRC, which already has considerable experience in building various versions of dual-power locomotives and offers some of them (so far built in China) also in Europe, e. g. for Rail Cargo Hungaria (very similar to Modula EBB is the RCH's Class 461 shunter). In contrast to the original DM 20, the Modula family has been conceived more generously, offering three drive combinations:
- EBB = electric locomotive with overhead line supply and two battery blocks,
- EDD = electric locomotive with overhead line supply and two diesel gensets,
- BDD = battery locomotive with two diesel gensets.
With this concept, Vossloh Locomotives/Rolling Stock has already managed to achieve orders in the last 1.5 years which, when options are taken into account, represent a larger number of locomotives than in the entire more than ten-year period for the Type DE 18. In June 2021, Paribus ordered up to 50 EBB locomotives for delivery starting in mid-2024, and in late 2021 DB Cargo signed a contract for 50 BDD locomotives for delivery from 2024, with options for up to 200 more.
However, Rail Force One (RFO) will be the first user, with two machines bought on its own, after a design phase with CRRC of four years. The initial deal was between RFO and CRRC for a four-axle mid-cab battery + catenary mode locomotive, designed entirely in China. In 2018 CRRC was the only manufacturer that could supply sufficient battery power for this purpose.
Following purchase of Vossloh Locomotives by CRRC in 2020, the Chinese giant proposed to adopt the DM 20 platform as a new basis for this project, because all specifiactions could easily be transferred to this platform, and it would be easier to realize. The use of the DM 20 platform would make homologation easier, and increased spare-part availability. These upsides, combined with the Chinese battery technology, makes it an even better package than it was anticipated while placing the order. The RFO's Modula machines will be used for shunting in the Port of Rotterdam.
Of the locomotives in the batch for Paribus, which will be managed by Northrail (part of the Paribus group), RTB Cargo has been confirmed as the next operator with four locomotives to be rented for ten years. One Modula EDD has also been ordered by the construction company Schweerbau in September 2022. And the Hersbruck-based IGE is also a new customer, having announced the acquisition of two Modula EBBs on the last day of InnoTrans. For this a MoU has been signed, and IGE stated that it will yet decide wether it will order these two locomotives directly or will lease them by Northrail. Their delivery is expected in 2026.
IGE, the Internationale Gesellschaft für Eisenbahnverkehr, currently operates two Class 482 TRAXXes from IRSI (International Rolling Stock Investment, Frauenfeld, Switzerland; formerly from the SBB Cargo fleet) and one Class 185 from Railpool, as well as six Class 182 Tauruses from MRCE (ex-DB), two Gravita diesels from Northrail and two of its own older Class 225 and 216 (ex-DB) diesel locomotives. In addition, IGE is also acquiring two EURODUALs from ELP (deliveries set for May and July 2023) and two EURO9000s (delivery expected in late November 2023).
The Main Technical Data Of Modula Are As Follows:
Axle arrangement Bo’Bo’
Top speed 120 km/h
Starting tractive effort 300 kN (for all versions)
Power at the wheel rim using electric supply - 2,500 kW for 15 and 25 kV voltages; 1,500 kW for 1,5 kV DC voltage
Power at the wheel rim using two diesel gensets 750 kW
Power at the wheel rim using two batteries 500 kW
Power at the wheel rim using one battery 300 kW (limited duration)
Battery capacity at Modula BDD 160 kWh
Battery capacity at Modula EBB 2 x 175 kWh
Length over buffers 18,700 mm
Min. curve radius negotiable 75 m
Weight 84 - 90 t depending on the version
Fuel tank capacity 1,500 - 2,300 l depending on the version
Ambient conditions -25 °C to +40 °C.
So the prototype Modula EBB is a triple-voltage locomotive (1.5 + 15 + 25 kV) for use in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. The Modula family has an AC/AC power transmission with four IGBT traction inverters (one for each axle, if one inverter fails, the remaining three axles can still work) and with wheelset-selective control. A new vehicle control system was installed, of a Vossloh Rolling Stock origin, based on the Ethernet. The batteries use LTO (lithium-titanium-oxide) technology. Installed are two 480 kW MAN D3876 six-cylinder in-line diesel engines. The locomotive is to be assessed in the tunnel classification Category B (20 km) according to the TSI SRT.
In general, the Modula is characterized by the possibility of operation in main line and shunting services for a wide range of tasks. Therefore, a higher traction power has been installed, which reaches a maximum of 2,500 kW in electric mode on AC voltages. This means not only about 50 % more power than at the DE 18 diesel locomotive (which has 1,600 kW on the wheel rim), but even slightly more than the dual-power Vectrons (in electric mode the Class 248 Vectron DM has a power of 2,400 kW and the Class 249 Vectron DM light has 2,210 kW).
A robust main frame construction and a large central driver's cab have been used to allow a large number of staff to stay comfortably, not only the driver(s) but also the train crew or track maintenance staff. There are two diagonally situated control consoles in the cab. Large cabinets on the cab sides contain the electrical switchboard as well as the on-board ETCS and STM (Specific Transmission Module) for national ATPs.
On the roof of the cab there is a semi-pantograph, the disconnectors and main switches for both AC voltages and for 1.5 kV DC. When designing the roof equipment, the challenge was to eliminate the risk of people coming into contact with high voltage, so protective sheets were fitted on the sides of the roof above the windows.
From the point of view of safety in tunnels, the Modula is classified as category B (length up to 20 km) according to the TSI SRT (Safety in Railway Tunnels). The locomotive is fitted with the on-board ETCS, and there is optional possibility to install automatic couplings or DAC, systems for detecting obstacles on the track, etc.
In terms of propulsion, the possibility of retrofitting current or future electrical energy storage technologies has been pursued. It is worth noting here that the prototype Modula EBB is actually the first electric locomotive of the Vossloh brand (and its predecessors). And it was the participation of CRRC that played a major role in this respect, not only providing the know-how for electric traction, but also supplying the traction equipment including asynchronous traction motors, bogie frames and the driver's cab for the prototype from China; this also enabled the first Modula to be produced very quickly.
The type approval of the Modula EBB will be carried out in the first phase for operation in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands (which corresponds to the choice of voltage systems also for this first locomotive) and is expected to be achieved in 2024. To speed up the whole process, more locomotives will be produced. In the subsequent period, approval for operation in France, which is an important market for the manufacturer, is also planned.