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Blog- Spoorwegsaangelegenheden ? Affaires ferroviaires: Railway, Benelux style - The Edge of the Dawn of a New Era: SNCB Series 18.2 electric from LS

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Hello everyone!


As the opening entry to this blog intended to channel thoughts and ruminations about a roughish scenario idea I developed during, and in the aftermath of, my recent "Grand Tour" to London via Brussels, I should like to introduce you to a contemporary locomotive which in my opinion is particularly attractive. Ordered in 120 examples, the SNCB Series 18 (and 19) dual system electric locomotive, designed and built by Siemens, is set to become the mainstay of SNCB's loco-hauled passenger fleet, and represents a kind of an intermediate step between the classic Eurosprinter series and the evolved Vectron series.


For baseline information on the Eurosprinter series, I should thus, again, like to refer you to my "Eurosprinteristics" posting on my German-themed RMweb blog.


In the late 1990s, SNCB had procured sixty Series 13 dual system electrics from Alstom, which had been a derivative of the SNCF class BB 36000 „Astride” locomotives and been delivered from 1997 till 2001. While the Belgian railways had reserved the right to an option for another sixty Series 13 locos, it was eventually decided not to go ahead with an additional procurement of these locomotives as the SNCB board felt they were too expensive and had, in their first years of service, not proven themselves to be sufficiently reliable.


In 2003, SNCB’s freight sector B-Cargo indicated an urgent need for additional electric locomotives to cover a severe shortage of available motive power. However, even then SNCB decided against drawing the option for a second batch of Series 13 electrics and held a tender, to which Alstom, AnsaldoBreda, Bombardier and Siemens were invited and had proposed their offers by 2004. However, no final decision was made before January 2007.


At that time, SNCB announced having agreed on a 222 million euro contract for sixty multi system electrics from Siemens, with an option for another sixty locomotives to be procured in the future. Contrary to prior expectations, the new locomotives were described as being intended for passenger traffic, thus effectively relegating the Series 13 locos to freight work. In order to have a sufficiently large numbering range available, the new Siemens locos were designated Series 18, so that all locomotives which might exceed the number of 99 could be designated Series 17 or 19. As such, the new locos represented the second iteration of this class in SNCB service, who in 1973 and 1974 had procured six C’C’ configured multi system electrics from Alsthom, derived from the SNCF class CC 40100 locomotives. This „original” Series 18 had been retired by 1999, thus effectively making the class number available again.


In December 2008, SNCB announced to be going ahead with the option for another sixty locomotives, of which those which would not fit in the Series 18 numbering range would be designated Series 19. The total investment for the 120 locomotives now on order was indicated as 440 million euros.


Four months earlier, 1860 had been the first Series 18 locomotive to have been presented, making its debut on the Innotrans railway exhibition in Berlin. By December, the second locomotive, 1801, took up trials at the Czech Railway Test Centre near Velim, while 1860 conducted similar trials at the Siemens test centre at Wegberg-Wildenrath. The actual deliveries to SNCB commenced in March 2009.


The new locomotives were not immune to teething problems, reportedly showing difficulties handling the properties of the 3 kV DC feeding system on older lines. Production but continued anyway, resulting in dozens of 18s being stored at Wegberg-Wildenrath and at Freiham, near the Siemens locomotive works in Munich.


Driver training for the InterCity A line from Ostend to Eupen commenced in April 2011, resulting in the locos acquiring provisional approval by July. In August 2011, the first handful of 18s began working regular services unassisted by backup locomotives.


Also in August 2011, the first pair of the batch of 24 locos designated Series 19 was transferred to Wegberg-Wildenrath for trials. Of the 120 locomotives ordered, 96 had, in the meantime, been specified to be outfitted with buffers and screw link couplers on both ends, while the remaining 24 were to be outfitted with a Georg Fischer/Sécheron +GF+ type automatic coupler – also used on various Belgian EMUs – on Cab 1. These locomotives, along with those twenty Series 27 locomotives similarly outfitted, were intended to work formations of M6 type double deck coaches, where 42 out of the 64 driving trailers available as of writing this article were to be outfitted with the same couplers. These sets were earmarked to provide split-and-join workings, which at this time are implemented on the InterCity E line from Tongeren to Knokke and Blankenberge – with trains being split and joined at Bruges.


Furthermore, the 18s can be regularly found coupled to formations of I11 type single deck coaches. These are single deck stock closely related to the AM96 series „Rubber Nose” EMUs and operated in formations of up to twelve coaches. At this time, I11 coaches are usually found on the Brussels–Visé/Gouvy, Ostend-Eupen/Welkenraedt, Ostend-Antwerp, and Antwerp-Ghent/Blankenberge IC lines, as well as on a pair of peak hour workings from Bruges to Brussels-Midi and Brussels-Midi to Ostend.


M6 stock, however, is much more widely spread, and in addition to the Tongeren-Knokke/Blankenberge services can, for example, be found on some Ostend-Eupen/Welkenraedt workings; or on some Quiévrain-Liège, Mouscron/Moeskroen-Schaerbeek/Schaarbeek, Brussels-Midi–Antwerp and Charleroi-Antwerp, and Ghent-Genk workings. They can also be found on the Brussels-Midi–Luxembourg City workings, but only in formations without driving trailers because these are not presently certified for Luxembourg’s national network.


The Series 18 and 19 locos also have limited certification for the Netherlands, but are unlikely to venture far onto Dutch territory due to the reduced power output under 1.5 kV DC.


Technical specifications


Length, width and height – 19.58 m, 3 m, 4,25 m/64.2 ft, 9.8 ft, 13.9 ft

Service weight – 88 tonnes/86.6 long tons


Power output – 6,000 kW 20-minute maximum output under 25 kV AC; 5,000 kW under 3 kV DC and continuous output under 25 kV AC; 2,400 kW under 1.5 kV DC

Dynamic brake output – regenerative: 5,000 kW under 25 kV AC and 3 kV DC, 2,400 kW under 1.5 kV DC; rheostatic: 2,600 kW under 3 kV and 1.5 kV DC


Initial tractive effort – 300 kN


Maximum speed – 200 kph (125 mph)


Braking weights – R 121 tonnes; P 90 tonnes; G 72 tonnes


Braking gear: Dual SAB-Wabco brake valves with settings G, P and R, ECP and emergency brake override; disk brakes on separate, geared brake shafts


Train protection systems installed – MEMOR/MEMOR 2+, TBL 1/1+, TBL 2, KVB, ETCS


The model


With the Series 18 and 19 thereby set to become a mainstay of the SNCB motive power inventory, Belgian producer LS Models eventually announced a H0 scale model of it, augmenting their ever-growing range of Benelux and French outline models in particular. Technically, I would assume this model to also provide the basis for the Vectron model they have planned, but which has been pushed way back in order to allow for additional research in order to accommodate the various detail changes which have been carried out on these locomotives since they were first presented.


At this time, five different running numbers have been produced, and were offered in DCC ready DC, DCC sound equipped and Märklin AC digital versions:


12210/12210S/12710: 1807, ex works

12211/12211S/12711: 1802, Kinkempois depot

12212/12212S/12712: 1860, Kinkempois depot

12213/12213S/12713: 1845, Ostend depot

12214/12214S/12714: 1852, Ostend depot


Additionally, 1813 was produced a a promotional present for Siemens employees.






The revised Eurosprinter 2007 design was intended to accommodate the most recent crashworthiness standards as laid out in Specification EN 15227, resulting in a markedly different appearance.


As SNCB intended these locomotives to replace the Series 13 in passenger service, it was decided to have them painted in an adapted version of the current SNCB standard livery, with a large black rectangle mimicking the ventilation grilles on the 13 and thereby expressing visual continuity from that class to the 18 and 19.







At this time, I would rank LS Models among those producers of RTR models offering the best reasonably possible level of detailing. As this close-up of Cab 1 and the intricate bogie and underfloor detail illustrates, the model gives a very convincing representation of the Series 18 locomotive. It also is lettered and painted crisply and cleanly. Also note the intricate technical lettering on the bogie frames and underfloor equipment compartments, as well as the train protection transceivers inside the snow ploughs and behind Bogie 1.


It is also interesting to note that in lieu of an actual operator suffix to the EVN number, SNCB chose to utilise their company logo. I suspect that is because this way, neither speakers of Dutch nor of French nor of German would have to feel discriminated!





One thing that struck me when looking at the secondman's side of Cab 2 was that the braking weights table is written on in a reddish brown, making it difficult to read this particular section of the locomotive's lettering. I wonder if this important bit of technical lettering is better legible on the real loco.






Generally highly similar in appearance to the current Vectron series, the Eurosprinter 2007 series has smooth panelling on the cab faces, as opposed to the "radiator" style panel added to the Vectron design during the prototype testing phase. For some reason I really do not understand, LS Models seem to think it to be a good idea to glue bufferbeam detailing parts in place – making it very difficult at best to remove the factory-fitted shortened brake pipes and replace them with the full-length variant.








As for rooftop detail, it is noticeable that LS Models are now offering pantographs easily matching the standard of Roco ones which in the past I have frequently used to upgrade models of other producers. Note that the pan on Cab 1 is outfitted with a 1,450 mm head for the 25 kV AC catenaries on the Belgian HSLs, in France and Luxembourg, while the one on Cab 2 has a 1,950 mm head and is intended for the Belgian 3 kV DC catenary and the Dutch 1.5 kV DC one.



And once again, let me round off this entry with some Youtube videos of the Series 182 and 19...














Enjoy your evening, everyone!


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