TESTING of the first Chinese-built “Bison” locomotive to operate in the European Union has begun in Germany, after CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive (CRRC ZELC) delivered the first of two e-hybrid battery-electric freight locomotives for Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) subsidiary Rail Cargo Hungary (RCH).  

CRRC ZELC manufactured the two hybrid freight locomotives and two hybrid shunting locomotives for RCH after signing a contract in October 2019. RCH will lease the vehicles for four years, after which it has the option to extend the lease of the locomotives if it is satisfied with their performance, or lease or purchase another 20 of each type of locomotive.   

The 5.6MW ac Bo-Bo locomotive has a top speed of 140km/h, and a tractive effort of 300kN.  

The freight locomotives will undergo static and dynamic testing in a technical laboratory in Minden, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, before performing running and braking tests on the German network, which are due to be completed by the end of May. 

During the dynamic tests, the locomotive must haul a 300-tonne train over at least 500km, as well as performing a stress test over 1570km. The tests are expected to require 1750 hours of operation.  

RCH says the tests are complicated by the lack of technical experience with Chinese locomotives within Europe, along with the lack of precedent under the Fourth Railway Package.  

The locomotives feature supercapacitors that can be charged from the catenary or line-side charging stations. The locomotive has a range of up to 10km along a flat line under battery power, giving it first and last-mile capabilities.  

RCH will operate the locomotives will operate in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria, while the shunters, which are yet to be delivered, will only operate in Hungary. 

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