A glimpse at the engine

This multi-system locomotive pulls Metrans trains weighing up to 2,200 tonnes – and it does this in seven countries, each with their own electricity grid. We show what makes this locomotive so powerful.

As of October 2018, HHLA rail subsidiary Metrans had 40 TRAXX F140 MS locomotives from Bombardier. This locomotive model boasts 7,616 hp. As the abbreviation “MS” for “multi-system” suggests, the locomotive stands out for the fact that it can be deployed in countries and regions with different electricity grids. This is because the TRAXX F140 MS can be operated using both alternating and direct current. It is a key factor for HHLA subsidiary Metrans, because it serves an extensive network of regular rail connections in central, eastern and south-eastern Europe. As a multi-system locomotive can cross borders within this network, there is no need to change locomotives at each border. This saves time and costs, and ensures a high degree of reliability when transporting containers by rail.

1) Nose-suspension drive

Each of the locomotive’s four axles is driven by its own traction motor. These nose-suspension drives enable a top speed of 140 km/h. Unlike in a car, the locomotive’s gear box features a single-speed transmission, which means that the direction and speed of travel are set using the power converter alone (located in the middle of the locomotive).

2) AC current collector

The locomotive is fitted with two AC current collectors, one on the front of the roof and one on the back of the roof. Behind them (towards the middle), it is fitted with two DC current collectors. These are required to operate the locomotive on grids with different voltages. The current collector necessary for the voltage and direction of travel in question are raised for the journey.

3) Power converter and transformer

The power converter (large cabinet in the middle of the locomotive) is supplied with energy from the overhead power lines via transformers (below). The energy is converted to the appropriate voltage for the various devices, such as traction motors or lighting and air conditioning systems.

4) Energy recovery

Whenever the locomotive brakes, the electrical energy released is fed back into the overhead power line via the power converter (in the middle of the locomotive). The level of energy recovery (yellow bar) is displayed on the screen in the driver’s cab. This recovery offsets the energy consumed by the locomotive, with the result that it uses less, which is environmentally friendly and reduces costs.