As countries across Europe entered national lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ricardo’s rolling stock testing team were approximately 70% of the way through a test programme for Alstom’s TRAXX MS3 locomotive.
The TRAXX MS3 is an electric-powered locomotive that also uniquely features an onboard 230 kW ‘last-mile’ powerpack that enables the vehicle to travel on non-electrified track. This capability will be particularly valued in port and harbour environments, such as around the Port of Rotterdam on the European freight corridor.
The test programme, which was taking place at the Velim test centre in the Czech Republic, was to demonstrate the compatibility of the locomotive’s electrical systems with the train protection systems, which required the vehicle to be monitored under a range of normal and degraded operating conditions (such as under half-power). This was the final stage of testing before completing the Intermediate Statement of Verification (ISV), an essential requirement before a National Safety Authority can grant a temporary authorisation for type testing.
But with Ricardo’s experts required to return the Netherlands at such short notice ahead of a nationwide lockdown, the programme looked set to incur significant delays. Even without the additional challenges of social distancing, vehicle test programmes can take several months of prior preparations.