Europe View



The double track freight bypass to the north of St Pölten is due to open in December, completing the four-tracking of the Linz to Vienna section of the Westbahn – via a mix of quadruple track and for some sections new high-speed lines designed primarily for passenger use. The 24.7km freight bypass around the south side of St Pölten has been designed to meet passenger evacuation standards, meaning passenger use (for diversions in the event of disruption or engineering work) is possible – although initially at least no passenger trains will be scheduled to use the line. A passenger service formed of an OBB Desiro City EMU was operated on 12 July for invited guests to inspect the new line.

The new line is connected by junctions at Wagram at the eastern end to both the old St Pölten to Vienna Westbahn line and the Neue Westbahn high-speed route direct to Vienna Meidling / Hauptbahnhof. At the western end, it is linked by junctions at Rohr to both old and new double track sections heading west. Around 12.8km of the line is in tunnel, the longest of which is 9.9km long. The line is equipped with European Train Control System Level 2, and from December the St Pölten to Vienna Neue Westbahn section will only be signalled using ETCS L2, as the lineside signals will be decommissioned. Austrian infrastructure manager OBB Infrastructure is now undertaking planning work to extend the four-track Westbahn to the west of Linz to Wels, where the lines to Salzburg (and Munich) and Passau (and Nuremberg) diverge.



Czech national passenger operator ČD has ordered 12 new two-axle diesel shunters from Czech loco builder CZ Loko in a contract worth CZK238.9 million (L8.2 million). The Class 794 locos are branded as EffiShunter 300 by the manufacturer and were first launched in 2014 at the InnoTrans trade show in Berlin. Since then the prototype has gained approval for use in both the Czech Republic and neighbouring Slovakia. The 36-tonne, 60km/h locos are fitted with a Caterpillar C13 328kW diesel engine that meets EU Stage IIIB emissions criteria. They will be used primarily for the shunting of empty coaching stock at major depots and stations, replacing older Class 714 four-axle locos, which were rebuilt in the 1990s using the frames and bogies of 1970s-vintage Class 735 locos. ČD anticipates all 12 new locos being in service by February 2019.



German operator Deutsche Bahn bought EWS and its then new French subsidiary European Cargo Rail (ECR) in 2007. The recent cutbacks at EWS in the UK have been covered in previous issues of Modern Railways, driven at least in part by the massive reduction in coal traffic in the UK. In France (and Germany) DB Cargo has also faced rising costs and greater competition, and in France in particular all operators can find the availability of paths stymies traffic growth as SNCF Réseau undertakes major renovation of multiple lines at once.

In France, DB Cargo (operating as ECR) has put in place a new recovery strategy aiming to stem losses – which were €25.5 million in 2016 – and to put the business on a sound basis. In June, the operator approved a €150 million capital increase for ECR to enable the subsidiary to restructure and win new business, with the aim of breaking even by 2018. ECR’s plan to make up to 300 redundancies has now been approved, although the actual number of redundancies now envisaged is 126 as around 100 people have found alternative employment already.

DB released financial results for the first half of 2017 in July, showing overall group turnover for the first six months of 2017 was €21 billion with a group EBIT (earnings before interest and taxation) profit of €1.179 billion (compared to €1 billion in 2016). Despite restructuring activity in Germany, France and the UK, DB Cargo remains the weakest part of DB’s business, with a loss of €28 million for the first six months of the year, albeit this is an improvement compared to a loss of €53 million for the first half of 2016.



DB Cargo has awarded Siemens a contract to equip part of its electric loco fleet with telemetric systems to continually collect data on the condition of the locomotives to enable condition-based, predictive maintenance. The contract covers the Siemens-built Class 152 Eurosprinter fleet (built 1997-2001) operated in Germany, and newer Vectron locos in use with DB subsidiaries in both Poland and Italy.

EWS livery in the French countryside: ECR started business in 2005 moving construction aggregates from quarries near the Channel coast to French cities and is still moving this traffic. EWS liveried but ECR branded loco No 66228 passes Noyelles sur Mer, north of Abbeville, with a loaded train of ECR branded hoppers heading south on 17 April 2016. Keith Fender
To be monitored: DB Cargo Class 152 loco No 152136 in advertising livery for DB intermodal subsidiary TFG Transfracht passes Krefeld Uerdingen on 29 March 2017 with a westbound steel train. Keith Fender

Under the six-year contract, Siemens will retrofit the locomotives with telemetric systems and networking equipment, enabling the ‘TechLOK’ system used by DB Cargo to be introduced. Siemens’ Mobility Data Services Centre, based in Munich, will work with DB Cargo to develop applications and data analytics models. The new system aims to identify recurring faults before they occur, enabling maintenance to be planned around the locomotives’ actual condition rather than the more rigid time and distance basis historically used by DB.


German national infrastructure manager DB Netze has obtained final planning approvals for the 15kV AC electrification of the Ulm to Lindau (via Friedrichshafen) line. Work will begin in 2018 between Ulm and Laupheim West. The project is budgeted at €222 million for around 125 route kilometres, 100km of which is double track (the 25km Lindau – Friedrichshafen section is single track), and should be completed by December 2021. The Ulm to Friedrichshafen section of line is currently one of the last remaining places in Germany where DB Regio uses Class 218 diesel hydraulic locos (although three new Bombardier-built Class 245 Traxx-ME locos have been delivered to Ulm this year).

DB Netze is currently electrifying around 200km of the Munich – Lindau route beyond the current eastern end of the electrification at Geltendorf (served by Munich S-Bahn services). When this electrification is complete in December 2020, DB or SBB long-distance EMUs will replace the current loco-operated Eurocity services between Munich and Zürich.

Further north in Bavaria, plans to electrify the Nuremberg – Marktredwitz line are being developed as part of the 2030 national transport plan, although implementation could be delayed until the 2030s. Initial planning will look at provision of 740-metre-long passing loops for freight in particular, installation of ETCS as well as the equipment necessary to electrify the route, which is eventually envisaged as part of an alternative north to south electrified route from the North Sea ports to Austria and further south or east. In Nuremberg, connections to the Nuremberg – Regensburg line will also be electrified as part of the scheme.


DB has ordered another 57 of Siemens’ new Mireo design of articulated EMUs. This order for three-car EMUs for Rhein-Neckar S-Bahn services (serving Mannheim and Heidelberg/ Heilbronn) follows an order in February for 24 Mireo trains by DB to operate stopping services on the Karlsruhe to Basel route.

The aluminium-bodied Mireo is built by Siemens at Krefeld. The 70-metre-long 160km/h Rhein-Neckar trains will have seats for 200 passengers plus a multi-purpose area for bikes and buggies. The trains will be Wi-Fi equipped and will use the on-board WLAN system to produce real-time analytical information, enabling predictive maintenance.

The trains will be delivered to DB, but once commissioned into service will be transferred to a rolling stock leasing company owned by the regional governments which let the contract to operate services. This ROSCO will then lease the trains to DB Regio for the 14-year duration of the new Rhein-Neckar contract. The first trains will be introduced in December 2020 and will augment existing older EMUs on several routes. From December 2021, the existing regional service between Mannheim and Mainz will become part of the Rhein-Neckar network and services will be operated using new Mireo EMUs. DB’s operating contract runs from December 2020 to December 2034, and with the Mannheim to Mainz route included represents around six million train kilometres annually.


DB Cargo has ordered 60 Class 193 Vectron multi-system (MS) electric locos from Siemens, with options for up to 40 more. DB intends to use the locos on international services from both Germany and neighbouring countries to a wide variety of destinations – it specifically identified the Rhine-Alpine corridor (linking Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands) as the sort of route the new locos will be used to operate, with the same locomotive operating services from start to finish.

The 6.4MW 160km/h multi-voltage (15/25kV AC, 1.5/3kV DC) locos, to be built at Siemens’ Munich Allach plant, will be equipped with ETCS Level 2 as well as conventional safety systems for the countries in which they will be used. The first locos will be delivered later this year, made possible by Siemens’ policy of building small quantities of Vectron locos for immediate call-off alongside larger batches of specifically-ordered locos. The Vectron MS design is currently certified for operation in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey; Siemens has now sold over 500 of its Vectron design since launching it in 2012. DB Cargo already has 3kV DC Vectron locos in use with its subsidiaries in Poland and more recently Italy.

DB Cargo has suffered from a shortage of modern multi-system electric locos in recent years as international intermodal traffic in particular has grown, particularly those capable of operating from DC supplies as well as AC, and it has been leasing both Vectron MS and earlier Class 189 (Eurosprinter ES64 F4) locos. DB bought a fleet of 100 Class 189 locos from Siemens between 2003 and 2005, although it sold 10 of them to leasing company MRCE. Much of the DB Class 189 fleet is now equipped with safety systems enabling operation from the Netherlands to the Czech Republic.

Separately, DB Regio is leasing six Class 193 Vectron MS locos from Railpool to operate new fast regional services between Nuremberg and Coburg from December 2017. This service will use the southern section of the ETCS Level 2 only high-speed line from Ebensfeld to Erfurt, which will open on 10 December.



Iarnród Éireann (IÉ) has recently responded to the Irish Government’s National Planning Framework (NPF) consultation in relation to the future national transport needs of the Republic. In its response, IÉ outlines the benefits of rail for passenger journeys, for commuting and longer-distance business and leisure travel and also for freight.

The ability to reduce national carbon emissions through modal transfer from road is a key theme; IÉ states a four-lane motorway has just one-third of the carrying capacity of a two-track commuter railway (noting also the difficulty in creating new road capacity in urban areas). Roads in Dublin are among the most congested in Europe, testament that past policy failings have facilitated continued car dependency in Ireland. The NPF consultation is in addition to the land transport policy review undertaken by the National Transport Authority (NTA) and the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport’s assessment of future investment levels for rail within the Republic to 2040 and beyond.

IÉ highlighted how investment in areas of its business would benefit the future of Ireland as a whole. Key points listed included passenger services to benefit the important tourism industry, with improvement targets for all end-to-end journey times on the inter-city routes to enable better competition with the new motorway network; for example Dublin to Belfast in 1.5 hours, Dublin to Cork in two hours and Dublin to other provincial cities in under two hours.

In the Dublin area, DART electrification out to Drogheda, Maynooth and Hazelhatch is considered essential, bringing major environmental benefits and reduced emissions through removal of DMU operation. The linking of the ‘northern line’ with the Kildare line by construction of the DART underground tunnel remains a key objective. IÉ also considers an extension of DART services via a new spur to the rapidly expanding Dublin Airport (a second runway is planned) should be funded, either instead of or to complement the Government’s Metro North light rail proposal.

In the regions, new or improved commuter services where population density warrants it are also recommended, with Galway and Cork (north side) highlighted.

Red Vectron: DB Cargo already has Vectron locos in use with its subsidiaries in Poland and more recently Italy. These locos are all 3kV DC-only machines, unlike the new batch ordered for use within, to and from Germany. DB Cargo Polska Vectron No 170054 passes Opole in southern Poland with a westbound freight on 4 April 2017. Keith Fender

The IÉ-owned Rosslare Europort is considered vital for the import/export market post-Brexit, and the deepening of berths to allow larger vessels and the construction of a multimodal rail freight facility are seen as important developments. Investment in rail freight is suggested as it both improves the national carbon footprint and reduces road congestion. Rail freight is currently operated without subsidy but limited to niche markets at present. New rail freight business opportunities that could require investment in terminals and policy support include biomass, mineral ore and pulpwood. Tim Casterton



The new 6km cross-city Citybanan underground line under central Stockholm was officially opened on 9 July, with passenger services starting the following day. The line is designed to relieve the congested two-track southern approach to Stockholm Central station and uses concrete tube sections sunk into the city’s harbour plus more traditional tunnels. Two new underground stations have been built on the L1.6 billion line, which is operated by Alstom-built Coradia Nordic X61 EMUs.

The double track railway south of Stockholm Central opened in 1871 and traffic has grown substantially since then. With 20 trains per hour each way, the slightest problem could lead to widespread delays which impacted much further south on the national network. The new Citybanan has thus been built to relieve the pressure on the Central station by diverting regional commuter trains away from what was known as ‘Getingmidjan’ (in English, the ‘wasp’s waist’).

For many years politicians had discussed a relief line. One suggestion was to construct an additional track alongside the existing pair, but the cost given existing buildings and historical monuments, plus the fact a third track was considered insufficient to meet any long-term traffic growth, led by the 1990s to a completely new line being planned to bypass both the Getingmidjan and Stockholm Central station’s ground level platforms.

Construction of the line started in 2014. The northern portal of the new 6km-long tunnel at Tomteboda is 450 metres north of the now closed Karlberg station. The line has two intermediate stations: Odenplan, with its island platform situated beneath the platforms of Stockholm’s green tunnelbana (metro) line; and 2.2km further south Stockholm City station, with twin island platforms interlaced between all three tunnelbana lines located underground and near Stockholm Central station. Both Odenplan and Stockholm City stations are equipped with platform edge doors – the first in Sweden.

South of Stockholm City the tunnel, which is fitted with overhead aluminium conductor rail and approved for use at 80km/h, reaches its greatest depth of 40 metres to pass through the three-section underwater tunnel towards Stockholm Södra (South) station constructed with concrete tube sections sunk into the city’s harbour. To attain that depth, a gradient of 30‰ (30 per thousand), the steepest on any line in Sweden, leads to and from Stockholm Södra; it is for this reason only Alstom Coradia Nordic Class X61 EMUs are permitted to operate through it, although clearance tests have been made with an SJ X2000 high-speed train, should the need ever arise. Freight trains continue to pass through the Central station. A new viaduct at Älvsjö enables long-distance trains to operate towards Stockholm Central via the old 1929 Arsta bridge. Our thanks to Philip Groves for much of the information in this report.

New underground link: Stockholm Odenplan Citybanan station on 11 July 2017, a day after opening to the public. Frank Edgar



Polish manufacturer Newag has now supplied over 100 of its Impuls design EMUs to regional governments in Poland. An export order for Ferrovie del Sud Est Puglia in southern Italy is currently being delivered. The first three of 17 Newag Impuls EMUs (12x3-car and 5x4-car) for Zachodniopomorskie (Western Pomerania) were delivered in June 2017; they were ordered in September 2016 at a cost of PLN250 million. One of these is the first train in Poland to be approved for operation on ETCS Level 2.

The Małopolskie region in southern Poland, which includes the city of Krakow, has ordered 12 Impuls EMUs, of which deliveries are now nearly complete. Most of these new trains are operated by regionally-owned rail operator Koleje Małopolskie rather than national regional operator Przewozy Regionalne. One of the new Koleje Małopolskie four-car Impuls EMUs, No EN79 002, is seen at Tarnów on 11 July 2017. Keith Fender