Why does Ukrzaliznytsia need new locomotives?



At the beginning of June, Ukrzaliznytsia (UZ) and the Canadian Bombardier engineering corporation signed a memorandum on the establishment of a joint venture to manufacture traction rolling stocks in Ukraine. A bit later, on July 14, the American General Electric Corporation signed an agreement with UZ to test its locomotive at the Ukrainian railways.

The Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelian stated that the General Electric and Bombardier would transfer locomotives for testing to Ukraine this May. He noted that locomotives would operate in experimental conditions from three to six months.

Which locomotives will Ukraine get and where will they be used?  The Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO) expert Oleksandr Kava’s column for Liga.net.

General Electric will transfer Ukraine a diesel freight locomotive TE33A with asynchronous traction drive, which is produced by the Lokomotiv Kurastyru Zauyty locomotive plant in Astana. This diesel locomotive is developed on the base of the fourth generation Evolution platform for 1520 standard gauge. It is the most modern platform in the General Electric line.

According to the agreement between the national Kazakhstan’s transport operator Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) and General Electric (signed in 2006), nearly 300 locomotives of this type were made at the plant in Astana. However, the agreement provided that only first 10 pre-fabricated locomotives should be sent in the US, and the remaining 300 should be fabricated at the new plant in Astana, that General Electric committed to build. KTZ’s acquisition of 300 locomotives line cost $ 650 million. So, we can count that the price of one locomotive was about $ 2.1 million.

Later another contract on delivering 110 passenger configuration locomotives TEP33A was sighed. Two of these locomotives now are working in the Almaty railway depot.

Except Kazakhstan, these locomotives are also used in Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan. In addition, one of these locomotives has been used in the Ivano-Frankivsk Cement enterprise for several years – it carries raw materials to the plant. It’s more than likely that the test locomotive will be used in Ukraine at the Dolynske-Mykolaiv line for grain transportation towards the ports of Mykolaiv region.

Now this is only about the locomotive testing, after what the decision on the next possible purchase will be made. Prototype testing must show benefits and implications of these locomotives for Ukrainian railways. But right now, the benefits of this model include the fuel efficiency and increased distance run between overhauls. It allows using these locomotives with higher efficiency that the existing ones.

Ukrzaliznytsia last bought freight mainline locomotives in 1992. Passenger diesel locomotives were bought in 2008-2009 last time. The standard service life of the most models exploited by UZ stands 30 years, when 75% of the company stock had passed the mark of 35 years long ago. The UZ locomotive stock is old-fashioned and needs urgent modernization.

The most countries of Eastern Europe went this way, but taking into account the age of the current stock in Ukraine, probably, it will be necessary to buy the new equipment. Unfortunately, the control over the Luganskteplovoz factory was lost, and Ukrainian car-building plants do not produce locomotives, so there is no any national alternative to modern foreign locomotives now.

The number of locomotives UZ will actually buy depends on its financial possibilities. Now the UZ management team led by Wojciech Balchun produces a new technical policy for rolling stocks. Quantity index will be developed on this basis. It is clear that considering the highest power of modern locomotives, it is required the less number of locomotives then it is now to meet UZ needs. We can say how much less this number will be after conducting thorough calculations.

As to locomotives buying in the Bombardier Company, it’s more than likely that they will propose UZ the equipment that is produced at their new Russian plant in Engels.

The locomotive repair works (capacity – 150 locomotives per year) was built specifically for RZD needs in 2015. The company developed the dual-mode electric freight locomotive F120MS (TRAXX construction platform) for 1520 mm rail gage (in Russia it was given 2EV120 batch marking) for the Russian market. It was expected that except Russia, these trains would be delivered to the CIS market and to the countries with the 1520 mm rail gage.

Now developmental locomotive is being tested in Russia, but there are no orders from the main Russian carrier – the RZD company. Considering the investments in the Russian plant building, Bombardier is actively looking for customers of this model.

General information. General Electric is an American diversified corporation, a manufacturer of many types of equipment, including locomotives, power plants, gas turbines, aircraft engines. As of 2015, the company took the 9th rank of the Forbes Global public companies list. It took the 13th position in the Financial Times ranking in terms of market capitalization in 2015.

The Bombardier Engineering Corporation is the only company in the world that is engaged in airplanes and trains manufacturing at the same time. The company’s net loss reached $ 5.34 billion in 2015 and that is 4.2 times higher than the rate of loss in 2014.