First European Hybrid Locomotive - Alstom Stendal sets the right course in Saxony-Anhalt

Retired locomotives are not put away onto a siding in Stendal. They are given new lease of life and are more efficient than ever before. Some of the V100 locomotives from Hennigsdorf in Brandenburg that arrive here are given a new engine. A double engine: Stendal hybrid locomotives are driven with a combination of an electro-diesel generator and battery.
They are used in shunting operations. In this, locomotives are largely empty or travel with low loads. During this period, they are operated by the set of batteries that feed the electric motors which then pull the locomotive. One of the first hybrid locomotives works in the transhipment operations at Magdeburg port. Magdeburg is therefore the first European inland port that uses one of these shunting locomotives that are both low in emissions and in noise. Most ports in Europe still operate locomotives that are technically obsolete. They are uneconomical due to their high consumption rate of diesel fuel and a strain on both driving staff and the environment due to their operating noise. Two other locomotives operate at VW in Wolfsburg. Previously, the serial deployment of four traction units at Mitteldeutsche Eisenbahngesellschaft began in June 2012 which thus runs at the chemical company Dow Chemical in Schkopau.

The rental contract runs through to 2018 with an adjoining call option. In this period, practical experience with the new technology is gained. Norbert Kempe, head of sales at the Alstom factory in Stendal is already convinced of the success: “Our pre-calculated values and savings potential are reached and already exceeded.” This means that at least 40 per cent less fuel consumption compared to modern diesel locomotives by other manufacturers, about 70 per cent less exhaust emissions and considerably less noisy operation. “I think we’ve not yet reached the end. We will continue to optimise.”

When the last veteran from Hennigsdorf has been converted, the Stendal ones will presumably enter the new building from 2014, announced factor manager Jörg Vogeley. A complete locomotive family will be developed for shunting and line operations, a new, environmentally friendly generation with intelligent drive control. Depending on the application, four locomotive types have been motorised differently. Thus, for example, a purely battery-operated tractive unit can shunt inside closed tank storage units where absolutely no sparks must fly.

The topic of development lies with those in the Altmark region, supported by specialists across the entire group. At Alstom, they speak of “very good customer feedback at the Stendal site based on long-term experience.” With hybrid technology, the course of action for the future of the factory, made possible with the takeover by the leading rail vehicle manufacturer, has succeeded.

It joined the former RAW Reichsbahnausbesserungswerk Stendal, which turns 140 this year, in 2002 through a joint venture with Deutsche Bahn. Kempe, head of sales, learned to be an electrician here and worked as an electrical engineer before switching to the technical services sector after reunification. He returned two years before the new start with the French.

Alstom invested approximately ten million euros in the listed factory buildings in the architectural style of the Hanseatic town of Stendal and around the same amount again in development work. Since last May, the company has been the sole shareholder. Vogeley views the large vertical range of manufacturing at the Stendal site, its flexibility and its proximity to customers as important advantages there. The locomotives are largely disassembled before being modernised and for the main examination every eight years. Such a large job is best conducted using the focused in-house expertise – customers are mainly private rail companies. In the meantime, components and bogies for trams and regional trains are refurbished from the sister plant, Braunschweig.

With almost 200 workers and eleven trainees, Alstom in Stendal is one of the largest manufacturing employers in the rural region. “Very specialised expert knowledge is required in the railway sector which is very difficult to come by in the market”, said the factory manager knowingly. Securing the next generation of professionals has become a key task, especially as the population in the Altmark region is falling sharply.

Jörg Vogeley, who comes from Benneckenstein in the Harz region, did not (!) want to be a train driver when he was younger like so many other boys. After a couple of years in the automobile industry, the 43-year-old electrical engineer has worked as plant manager in Stendal since the beginning of February 2013 and “caught the bug”: “Rail is a small, unique industry and pulling us into the future with the new hybrid locomotive.”

Author: Ute Semkat

ALSTOM Lokomotiven Service GmbH Stendal
Tangermünder Straße 23a
39576 Stendal
ph: +49 3931-25 410