UZ will test the 3356kW locomotive on its 1520mm-gauge network in the coming weeks and five locomotive drivers for the Odessa division have visited Kazakhstan for driver training in readiness for the trials.

UZ says 99% of its freight locomotives are life-expired and in the 25 years since independence it has acquired just eight locomotives.

Omelyan says that the Ministry of Infrastructure has been working with consultants to draw up a five-year programme for the modernisation of UZ’s locomotive and wagon fleet, and this is due to be completed by the end of October.

UZ is exploring the possibility of working with an international supplier to localise the production of locomotives and in July it signed a memorandums of understanding with both GE and Bombardier pledging to explore strategic cooperation in this sector.