Stadler has started production of the Class 93 locomotive fleet for Rail Operations UK and finished the first carbody. Assembly of all the components and sub-systems will soon begin. After a period of testing and approvals, the first locomotive is scheduled to be transferred to the UK in March 2023. Entry into service is set to take place a few months later. The Class 93 is Stadler’s first ever tri-mode locomotive, demonstrating the company’s commitment to green technology and reducing carbon emissions. It is also the first tri-mode locomotive to operate in the UK.
The first carbody for the Class 93 is now ready, paving the way to the assembly stage, which involves the installation of piping, cabling, traction systems and other equipment. Able to operate using electricity, in battery mode, as well as with diesel, the Class 93 is the first tri-mode locomotive that Stadler has ever designed and manufactured and the first to operate in the UK. Commissioning is set to be undertaken next year.
British company, Rail Operations UK and Stadler signed a framework agreement in 2021 for 30 Class 93 tri-mode locomotives, ordering an initial batch of ten. Class 93 is a ‘Bo-Bo’ mixed-traffic locomotive based on Stadler’s Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives, which have been operating successfully in the UK for several years. All locomotives on order for Rail Operations (UK) are being made at Stadler’s Valencia plant. The locomotives will have three different power sources, and in electric mode, can run on 25kV AC overhead lines with a power up to 4,600 kW. They feature a Stage V 900 kW-engine and two Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) traction battery packs, allowing them to operate on non-electrified lines. The battery packs provide 400 kW extra power to supplement the engine when the locomotives are running in diesel/battery hybrid mode. The batteries modules can also work alone, enabling carbon-free operations.
The advanced locomotives will significantly reduce exhaust gas emissions for both rail freight and potential passenger transport services, supporting net zero targets in the UK. They also include efficiency features to minimise energy consumption. The high-efficiency transformer and the AC traction system with IGBT technology, one inverter per axle, enable better adhesion control, reduce energy consumption and increase reliability. Kinetic energy is recuperated during braking. The Class 93 is capable of reaching a higher speed than the Class 68s and Class 88s ̶ 110mph in comparison with 100mph. Future-proofed, its innovative hybrid coupler enables coupling via a draw hook and through automatic coupling.
Iñigo Parra, CEO of Stadler Valencia, commented: “This is a project of firsts: the Class 93 is not only the first tri-mode locomotive to run in the UK, but it’s Stadler’s first tri-mode locomotive, illustrating our commitment to green technology and genuine desire to help governments and businesses around the world de-carbonise their cities, towns and villages. We are delighted to see these locomotives take shape and look forward to continued working with our customer and partner, Rail Operations UK.”
Karl Watts from Rail Operations UK added: “We’ve been working with Stadler for four years now to specify and design a locomotive for the future. The end product, the Class 93 tri-mode, is a locomotive of great operating versatility, incredible energy efficiency and packed full of technology which, not only allows us to transform UK train operations but lead the way in UK rail decarbonisation. The locomotive also enables Rail Operations UK to penetrate new operating markets, in particular express freight, previously unavailable using its existing locomotive fleet.”