Eight locomotives will be available by mid-November and two more in December, when the 2018 timetable starts.

The 200 km/h Vectrons will be equipped to operate on 3kV dc, 15kV 16.7Hz and 25kV 50Hz ac electrification systems.

ČD has not disclosed which company will provide the locomotives, although unconfirmed reports indicated Vienna-based European Locomotive Leasing (ELL) has been selected for the 10-year contract.

ELL is already leasing Vectrons to several operators in the Czech Republic including ČD’s competitor RegioJet, which operates five units.

The locomotives will replace ČD’s dual-voltage class 371, which haul the trains from Prague to Dresden, where a DB locomotive takes over for the remainder of the journey to Hamburg.

The decision to lease the Siemens locomotives indicates that ČD has given up any hope of being able to use its Škoda class 380 electric locomotives on the route, at least in the short-term.

These 6.4MW multi-system locomotives still do not have full and unconditional access to the German network, despite the Supplementary Authorisation to Place in Service (SAPS) granted by the Federal Railway Authority (EBA).

The class 380 is not permitted to operate at 200 km/h on the entire route, a precondition for a new locomotive to be employed on this service. On much of the German network the class 380 is restricted to 160km/h and is even banned on some lines.

This class 380 is the subject to a lengthy legal battle between Škoda Transportation and ČD, which has also drawn in the Czech Ministry of Transport. The locomotive has been designed for operation in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and Poland. Unconditional and full authorisation for all of these countries is a condition for the official acceptance of the locomotives by ČD.