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2,000 kilometres to the repair workshop

In the locomotive production facility at DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung GmbH in Dessau the jokes are recently told in Swedish. The engineers and technicians have a heavy-duty visitor from the far north.

Electric locomotives with accident damage are part of the daily routine at the Dessau Maintenance Depot. More than 300 electric locomotives are repaired here every year. But having a locomotive that has to travel around 2,000 kilometres to be repaired is not something you find every day.

The locomotive was located on a stabling siding at a bumping post in Kiruna – far away in the north of Sweden, just outside the Arctic Circle. An empty train ran onto the wrong track. Traveling at above fifteen kilometres per hour, the train did not manage to stop before hitting the massive locomotive and the bumping post. The two were sent tumbling down a slope. The Class 185 electric locomotive made by Bombardier was seriously damaged.

It was then that the team from Dessau came into its own. Over the past year the professionals have repaired 335 locomotives, of which 20 locomotives alone suffered minor to serious accident damage. As such, the maintenance depot in Dessau is number 1 in Germany for electric locomotive repairs. Oliver Heinisch, production engineer in the Locomotive Servicing and Bogies production unit reports: "The enquiry arrived in October, we made our way out there straight away and examined the locomotive on site."

Heinisch and his team conducted 3-D measurements on the locomotive. During this process the locomotive is raised on lifting jacks and measured using an optical system. The manufacturer specifies the measuring points. That way they can pinpoint the actual damage. And what he sees still amazes him. "It's the first time I've seen an accident like this. There's lots of deformation and dents in the floor plate area and at the sides. That's time-consuming to weld."

Using this data DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung managed to put together an offer which convinced the locomotive owner. In January the contract was signed; the locomotive body was then transported to Dessau on a heavy-load transporter in February, the bogies followed. A total of 29 weeks are scheduled for the repairs.

Returning the locomotive will then once again prove a logistical challenge. Since the electric locomotive is only fitted with a Swedish train protection system, it cannot make the journey back home from Germany under its own steam. So it is towed by rail to Rostock. On by ferry to Trelleborg. Followed by a test run under load in Sweden. And only then can the locomotive make its way home to northern Sweden.

Text: Jan Frintert/fischerAppelt