VR's new diesel locomotives introduced in freight traffic

VR's first brand new diesel locomotives will start operating in commercial traffic on Wednesday, May 3rd . The locomotives have undergone an extensive testing program. They have been customized to fulfill VR's needs and the Finnish weather and railway conditions. The new locomotives are especially suitable for heavy freight traffic.

Commercial traffic with the new diesel locomotives has started in Kolari’s roundwood traffic operations. The first commercial train powered by one of the new diesel locomotives was operated from Kemi to Kolari on Wednesday, May 3rd . Five Dr19 locomotives have now been officially transferred from Stadler Rail Valencia to VR’s ownership.

“The diesel locomotives have undergone an extensive testing program and are now ready for commercial traffic. The locomotives will mainly be used in freight traffic and their tractive effort is approximately twice as efficient as that of our old locomotives. The train is by far the lowest-emission mode of transport, but we are committed to further reducing emissions. The new locomotive has several climate-friendly features, and in particular its fine particle emissions are only a fraction compared to our old diesel fleet,” says Ilkka Heiskanen, Vice President, Train Operations and Safety at VR.

The locomotives represent state-of-the-art railway technology, which is why the test program has included shunting tests in railway yards and test runs with various train configurations, railway sections and weather conditions. The locomotives will be further developed after the start of commercial traffic. 

Operational reliability, safety, and lower-emission transport

The Dr19 locomotive plays a significant role in freight transport. The modern diesel locomotive enables larger train sizes and increasingly climate-friendly transport. The locomotives are more efficient, reliable, and safe, and offer even better operational reliability and lower-emission transport chains to the customers. The new features of the locomotives also enable the development of operating models.

“Customer needs are always the starting point for any development efforts. They also help in the planning of how the properties of the new locomotive can be best utilized. For example, shunting work can be more efficient and larger train configurations can be moved more effortlessly. The structure of the new locomotive has been designed so that diesel can, in the future, be replaced with a more climate-friendly energy source, once sufficiently competitive and reliable alternatives are available on the market,” says Eljas Koistinen, Senior Vice President, VR Transpoint. 

There is still a need for diesel locomotives, as only slightly more than half of the Finnish railway network has been electrified. VR aims to maximize the amount of electric traction, but in the future, other power sources will also be needed in addition to electricity.

The first Dr19 locomotive arrived in Finland from Stadler Rail Valencia for testing in February 2022. The locomotives will arrive in Finland in phases and the complete fleet of 60 locomotives will be delivered by the end of 2026. The Dr19 locomotives will slowly replace the ageing diesel locomotives, which by then will be about 40–60 years old and will have already exceeded their normal life cycle.

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