TESTING of the first Chinese-built 5.6MW ‘Bison’ battery-electric locomotive for Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) subsidiary Rail Cargo Hungary (RCH) is underway at the Velim test centre in the Czech Republic. 

The Bo-Bo 140km/h locomotive is the first of its kind to operate in the European Union and had been undergoing testing in Germany since February.  

When testing began in February, RCH highlighted complications surrounding the process due to the lack of technical expertise with Chinese locomotives within Europe along with the lack of precedent under the Fourth Railway Package.  

The unit is the first of two such e-hybrid freight locomotives built by CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive (CRRC Zelc). They feature supercapacitors that can be charged from the catenary or lineside charging stations, enabling a range of up to 10km along a flat line under battery power to provide first and last-mile capability.  

The Chinese manufacturer has built the two hybrid freight locomotives and two hybrid shunting locomotives for RCH following the confirmation of their order in October 2019. They will initially be leased for four years, and if performance is satisfactory, RCH has the option to either extend the lease of the locomotives, or lease or purchase another 20 of each type.  

RCH plans to use the locomotives in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria, while the shunters will only operate in Hungary.  

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