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Rhaetian Railway - Technical facts about Ge 4/4 III

Multi purpose main line locomotive of type Ge 4/4 III with three-phase AC propulsion

Continuously increasing passenger loads caused the Rhaetian Railway (RhB) to develop a concept for a new generation of electrical locomotives in 1987. These locomotives had to be capable of hauling passenger and freight trains on the main network and car shuttle trains through the future Vereina tunnel. Even though a six-axle locomotive would have been the ideal choice for hauling shuttle trains through the new tunnel, the decision was made to order four-axle locomotives. These prove more effective on the scenic lines such as the Albula line with its numerous curves.
Due to recent developments in power converter technology it was decided to purchase locomotives with three-phase propulsion using GTO converters. It was decided to equip the new vehicles with modern bogies with self steering radial alignment of the wheel-sets.

RhB placed orders for six units in 1989 and for three more in 1991. The Biere - Apples - Morges Railway (BAM) ordered two similar locomotives for hauling heavy tank trains in 1990. Four more locomotives were built for MOB using similar mechanical components. Three additional locomotives were ordered by RhB in 1996 to cope with the increasing demand for AC locomotives due to the conversion of the Arosa line to an AC catenary.
A modern and functional design was chosen for the locomotive body. Altogether the new locomotives can be considered as the most modern narrow gauge vehicles world wide. The locomotive's propulsion unit comprises two modular built-up converters, each feeding two three-phase squirrel cage motors in parallel. The control electronics are derived from the SBB Re 460, the so-called locomotive 2000.
A new concept was chosen for the traction control system and man-machine-interface: two side-sticks are used for controlling the most important parameters such as the tractive effort. Two monitors display all relevant vehicle data and fault messages. This concept did not prove successful in daily service though. Thus the latest batch of three locomotives (Nos. 650 - 652) were fitted with a manually operated wheel that replaces the side-sticks.
The modern multi purpose locomotives of type Ge 4/4 III are mainly used to haul heavy passenger and freight trains between Chur and St. Moritz and car carrier trains through the Vereina tunnel. Most locomotives are painted in a special design advertising for different companies and products.

Technical facts

Vehicle designation:Ge 4/4 III
Vehicle Nos:641 - 652
Manufacturer Ge 4/4 III 641 - 649
- mechanical part:
- bogies:
- electrical part:
ABB Verkehrssysteme AG
Manufacturer Ge 4/4 III 650 - 652
- mechanical part:
- bogies:
- electrical part:
Adtranz (ex. SLM)
Adtranz (ex. SLM)
Adtranz (ex. ABB Verkehrssysteme AG)
Wheel arrangement:Bo'Bo'
Years of commissioning:1993 / 94 / 99
Number of vehicles:12
Max. speed:100 km/h
Gauge:1,000 mm
Length over buffer:16,000 mm
Overall width:2,800 mm
Mass in running order:62.0 t
Hauling load:
- ruling up-gradient:
- corresponding speed:
210 / 290 / 350 t
4,5 / 3,5 / 1,5 %
50 / 60 / 78 km/h
Nominal catenary line voltage:11 kV, AC 16.7 Hz
Number of traction motors:4 (type 6 FRA 5248)
Max. rating at wheel rim:3,100 kW
Cont. rating at wheel rim:2,400 kW
Max. tractive effort at wheel rim:
- corresponding speed:
200 kN
57.6 km/h
Cont. tractive effort at wheel rim:170 kN
Transmission gear ratio:1 : 6.136
Bogie wheel base:2,400 mm
Diameter of wheels (new):1,070 mm

Vehicle names

Vehicle names
- 641:Maienfeld
- 642:Breil / Brigels
- 643:Vals
- 644:Savognin
- 645:Tujetsch
- 646:Sta. Maria / Val Münstair
- 647:Grüsch
- 648:Susch
- 649:Lavin
- 650:Seewis im Prättigau
- 651:Fideris
- 652:Vaz/Obervaz Lenzerheide-Valbella
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Copyright © 1997

Author: Klaus P. Canavan, last change on 2002-01-19