Traxx Universal: Alstom’s locomotive for Europe goes from strength to strength

Alstom’s Traxx™ locomotives for Europe are trending. In 2023, the company signed several major contracts for its third-generation locos, followed by an order in January 2024 from ARF, Romania, with 20 years of associated maintenance services. And there’s more in the pipeline. What’s behind the success? We had a quick chat with Adrian Kurz, Market & Portfolio Director Locomotives, and Rolf Schreiber, Product Director Traxx locomotives for Europe.  

Adrian Kurz, left, Rolf Schreiber, right

Adrian Kurz, Market & Portfolio Director Locomotives, has been in the company for more than 20 years. He is based in Zurich where he supports salespeople in the region and provides market information to the team in charge of locomotives.

Rolf Schreiber, Product Director Traxx locomotives for Europe, has been in the company for 35 years. He is based in Mannheim where he is in charge of product development and future opportunities for Alstom’s locomotive platform.

Connect with Rolf and Adrian on LinkedIn!

Recently, Alstom has won a lot of new contracts for Traxx locomotives in Europe. How do you explain this success?

Rolf Schreiber: Alstom had a very successful order intake for Traxx mainline locomotives in Europe last year, specifically for the Poland to France[1] and France to Italy[2] rail corridors. The Traxx Universal platform offers powerful, reliable locomotives with improved technical performance and maintenance. This is important for all operators, who need to manage their operational costs very carefully. Our locomotives provide a maximum power of 6.4 MW and are capable of pulling trains with a very high tractive effort of up to 340 kN, which allows customers to pull more wagons. As they say, it takes a lot of wagons to make a profit!

Adrian Kurz: Equipping our locomotives with Alstom’s proven signalling system Onvia™, formerly Atlas, has helped to secure the trust of our customers. Onvia™ is the leading onboard solution for ETCS and country-specific “Class B” signalling systems, meaning our locomotives are suitable for both single-country as well as on corridor (multiple-country) applications.

What are the features of Traxx that make it stand out in the market?

R.S.: Alstom’s Traxx locomotive platform for Europe offers product variants for mixed or dedicated passenger operations, for speeds up to 160 km/h and 200 km/h respectively. There are lots of commonalities between the two, especially regarding maintenance and spare parts, which helps to cut costs for operators. Traxx Universal is a platform with pre-defined country corridors and options; the locomotives are standardised, cost-efficient and fit for purpose, with proven, in-use solutions and a wide range of pre-defined optional features. The most well-known of these is the Last Mile functionality, which enables access to non-electrified terminals, sidings, shunting yards etc. It’s a tried-and-tested solution that can be incorporated into any type of locomotive: multi-system, AC or DC.

A.K.: Our ability to offer locomotives specifically for rail corridors including France was a decisive factor in recent contract wins. Alstom’s locomotives have been operating in France for a long time, which has allowed us to acquire expertise in France’s legacy signalling system, KVB, as well as in the French authorisation process.

R.S.: It’s safe to say that Traxx for Europe is the most modern four-axle locomotive platform on the market. We’ve worked hard to improve all relevant aspects of Generation 3 compared to previous generations: efficiency, performance, functionality and maintenance, which has significantly reduced costs for operators.  

What are your plans for Traxx Universal? How do you see the platform evolving?

R.S.: Spotting opportunities is crucial, and my colleague Adrian is constantly screening the market. This is done through frequent meetings with customers to understand their needs, and by keeping an eye on the competition. We try to pre-empt the market by asking ourselves: is it time to start developing a new functionality? Do we need to add countries into our corridor concept? To date, Traxx locomotives are certified in 20 countries in Europe. We have a clear understanding of how we would like to increase this base, while continuing to study topics that will be key for the future. Apart from the product roadmap, we take care about obsolescence management. For that we conduct a ten-year forecast planning to manage long-term relationships with suppliers and the availability of components and spares.

A.K.: We’re also working to extend our range of optional features. For example, we are developing the Last Mile with battery option. This will eventually replace the existing Last Mile functionality.

Finally, Alstom is participating in the DAC project (Digital Automatic Coupling), an EU initiative to improve the efficiency of European rail freight operation. This is vital to increase safety when coupling and uncoupling. It will further open the door to a range of possibilities, such as enabling brake tests to be carried out automatically. We’re working in partnership with other actors to design a prototype. All of these initiatives show that we are prepared for the future.

[1] France, Germany, Poland and additional countries

[2] France, Italy and additional countries