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Czech DC Battery Powered Shunting Locos – 1926-1965

Czech DC Battery Powered Shunting Locos – 1926-1965

15.Sep 2021
| Blog - About GWL

The Czech railway operated battery powered locos as early as 1926. The idea of the shunting loco was simple and ecological — charge the battery at night (with cheap energy) and use the loco during the day to shunt the rail stock around the Prague Main Railway Station.

At those times, the railways were not using any electrical traction. Only coal-steam and diesel-oil engines were used. These DC shunting locos were truly revolutionary. The additional goal was to reduce the smoke and noise of the diesel or steam locos, that generated smoke and noise even when not moving, because the engine had to be kept running.

The E 407.001 was the very first electrical traction locomotive in the Czech lands (or Czechoslovakia). It was also the world’s largest battery powered loco at those times - 1920′s.

The first unit E 407.001 was produced in 1926 and the second unit E 407.002 in 1928. These locos used a DC system with 238 pieces of lead-acid cells. The nominal voltage of the pack was 500V DC (2.1V per cell). The capacity was 392Ah (at C1 rate) or 630Ah (at C5 rate).

Each loco had its own mass of 67 tons and could shunt up to 400 tons. The shunting speed was 6 to 12 km/h. Maximal speed was 40 km/h. The loco alone, without the load was able to reach up to 290 km per a single charge.

Overview of the specifications

  • weight – 67,4 t
  • highest speed – 40 km/h
  • length – 12 200 mm
  • engine power – 208 kW (4 engines with 52kW each)
  • battery pack – lead acid 238 cells in series 392/630 Ah (C1/C5)
  • manufactured – 1926, 1928

These DC powered shunting locos used to be operated at Prague Main Railway station till 1965. In addition to the original E407 line of the shunting locos from 1920’s, the Skoda Electric company manufactured also modernized locos under E413, E416 and E417 codes.  There could be up to 20 units of battery powered shutting locos in operation in 1950 and 1960.

According one source there maybe one unit of the E413 modernized to E406.0501 preserved up to present in a technical museum deposit in Chomutov.

GWL is happy to continue the modern history of battery powered shunting locos by supplying LiFePO4 cells for the project of the LEA Romania shunting locos by Euroest S.A. There are some other DC traction loco projects that come into discussions and perhaps may be realized soon.

GWL team is ready to keep going on with the DC traction solutions for all kinds of customers. Stay in touch with GWL.

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