It was last April when the initial KZ8A locomotives successfully passed the required tests to go on to validation trials. And while KZ8A 001 was undergoing dynamic tests on the KTZ rail network, KZ8A 002 was subjected to its first extreme cold conditions during climatic tests in Vienna.
Both locomotives have come from the Alstom Transport facility in Belfort, France, where they were designed and manufactured. Both are part of the 295 locomotives ordered from Alstom and TMH by KTZ in 2010.
Initial dynamic test runs for the KZ8A in Kazakhstan took place in early April with a roughly 130-kilometre trip from Astana to Ereymentau. Those tests had the following purpose:
- To approve the signalling system and the radio under dynamic test conditions, following a series of static tests successfully passed in the previous days,
- To ensure compliance of power standards,
- To assess the locomotive’s dynamic behaviour,
- To check that the “train status” data transmission system functions correctly for recording malfunctions and for maintenance.
Meanwhile, the second KZ8A locomotive was facing tough climatic tests at the Rail Tec Arsenal in Vienna, Austria, a weather-testing facility where Alstom is a partner. The facility features a tunnel where it is possible to recreate the conditions which the locomotives will have to face (extreme cold at 45°C below freezing, extreme heat at 45°C, wet snow, ice) in order to test the following:
- Air-conditioning and heating in the cabin,
- The pre-heating of on-board electronics and the heating of the engine room,
- The start-up and correct operation of the main subsystems at very low temperature,
- The correct operation of pantographs, brakes, windscreen wipers and horns when subjected to ice and snow.
The next tests, due to take place soon, will aim at validating the correct operation of the pneumatic braking system, the pantograph, the traction drive and the wheel slide prevention system.
This testing and trial process will help Alstom to ensure it provides its customers with locomotives that are able and ready to face the extreme weather conditions in eastern countries, as it has done with the EP20 locomotive made for the Russian market, of which 20 units have been delivered so far.