Eurotunnel Tests Alstom Prima II in Channel Tunnel
In a move that brings the standardisation of rail freight services between the UK and Europe a step forward, the Alstom Prima II locomotive has been successfully tested in the Channel Tunnel overnight between 29th and 30th September.
Step Forward for Open-Access of the Channel Tunnel for Rail Freight
Until July (2012), previous rules stated only locomotives specifically built for operation in the Channel Tunnel could be used. However, Eurotunnel, which has a current fleet of Class 92 locomotives which are not approved to run on the French Rail Network (RFF), secured Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI) for its freight trains which will encourage open-access of the tunnel for rail freight.
The trial run began around 10pm at the French portal in Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais. Weighing 950 tonnes, in it’s standard configuration and hauling wagons, the Prima II locomotive had a series of traction, braking and pantograph tests conducted on it to ensure the locomotive’s compatibility with the tunnel’s systems and safety standards.
The first trial run finished at roughly 3am at the locomotive exited the tunnel at Folkestone before departing for a second round of tests on it’s return journey back to France.
Chariman and CEO of Groupe Eurotunnel SA, Jacques Gounon said of the trail runs “Gaining authorisation for new rolling stock is an essential part in the development of the open access approach implemented by Eurotunnel. I am very pleased that our close cooperation with Alstom is opening up new avenues for freight whilst at the same time significantly reducing CO2 emission.”
Alstom Transport Chairman Henri Poupart-Lafarge later added that “We are very pleased that those tests were successful as they open up new promising prospects for European railway freight, as well as demonstrating Alstom’s determination to actively support it. The tests are an integral part of the lasting partnership that we develop on a daily basis with our customers as a whole, and with Eurotunnel in particular.”