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PGE GiEK 6Dg-161 at Turoszow on 7 April 2017. Picture by Harald S.

Between late-2014 and late-2015, PGE GiEK took delivery of its three SM42 modernizations, re-built by Newag according to the 6Dg design: 6Dg-154, 157 and 161. Now, the company eyes the modernization of a further four SM42 locomotives (SM42-2244, 2263, 2658 and 2659) and has launched a tender accordingly. Possible contestants with 6D-based modernization programmes in their portfolio include Newag, Pesa and TABOR Dębica.

PGE GiEK has decided to launch the tender, because it is faced with ever-increasing maintenance costs due to the high age of the SM42 locomotives. Additionally, it aims to decrease emissions and downtime, as well as improving driver comfort and safety. The modernized locomotives are required to have at least Stage IIIa engines with a minimum output of 650kW and thoroughly updated cabs.

Brand new Beacon Rail Leasing / DRS 68005 at the Multimodal 2014 trade fair in Birmingham on 29 April 2014. Picture by Mark Barber.

Direct Rail Services has published a tender for the procurement of 10 mixed-traffic diesel-electric locomotives with maximum contract value of 53 million GBP, excluding VAT. The tender is a call for competition for the design, building, testing, homologation and commissioning of the ten locos. The inclusion of the potential provision of maintenance and servicing, technical support, spares supply and financing is anticipated. The locos should be introduced into service in the third quarter of 2019 and are needed by the British rail operator to meet long term parent body and customer transport objectives.

The structure of the tender calls for competition and has room for negotiation. Therefore, it does not necessarily imply that additional Class 68 locomotives are to be ordered. Furthermore, in contrast to the 34 Stage IIIa compliant Class 68 locomotives that Stadler has delivered in recent years, these new locomotives will most likely meet the more stringent Stage IIIb requirements. Despite the open tender, the readily available, homologated and Stage IIIb prepared UKLIGHT is a likely candidate. Especially, as it offers synergy effects (e.g. in the area of driver training, maintenance and spares) with DRS' fleet of 34 Class 68 and 10 Class 88 locomotives.

Direct Rail Services supports the activities of parent NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) by operating nuclear flask trains. Besides this, the British operator offers rail freight services and is active in passenger franchise support. The wide range of activities emphasizes the important role for mixed-traffic locomotives in the company's fleet. Especially DRS' passenger franchise support activities have been growing in recent years, seeing many of its Class 68 locomotives being used on scheduled passenger services.

Currently, Chiltern Railways operates six specially modified locos (68010-015) and has access to two spare locos (68008-009) if required. Abellio ScotRail operates two of the type (68006-007) and has access to one spare loco if needed. With technical and livery modifications underway and the first locos having been hired from DRS, First TransPennine Express is to operate 14 locos (68019-68032) together with new CAF-built Mk.5a push-pull sets and will have access to several spare locos. From July 2016 until early-September 2017, Abellio Greater Anglia had two locos (various numbers) on hire as temporary measure to replace DMU-operated services.

In the UK, DB Cargo UK's 66001 does no longer sport DB Schenker logos. The logos have been removed to allow the application of regular DB logos.

GB Railfreight 66724 has been repainted from its defunct First GBRf livery into the latest GB Railfreight livery at Eastleigh Works. Class member 66725 is the next loco to be undergo a similar treatment.

Temporarily numbered 2063 157, Israel Railways 720T is unloaded from the Hohe Bank at the Port of Haifa. Picture by Yaron Dozetas.

On September 11th, three NGT26CW-3 locomotives were unloaded at the port of Haifa in Israel. The designated 720T-722T are the last three of a batch of seven additional NGT26CW-3 locomotives for Israel Railways. The operator now has thirteen of the type in its fleet.

Touch down! Temporarily numbered 2063 157, Israel Railways 720T joins 2063 158 (721T) and 2063 159 (722T) from the Hohe Bank at the Port of Haifa. Picture by Yaron Dozetas.

Israel Railways Prima 747 heads the three new locomotives, while leaving the port of Haifa. Picture by Yaron Dozetas.

DRS 68021 'Tireless' in TPE livery at Crewe Gresty Bridge. Picture by First Transpennine Express Ltd.

Last week, we could already report that DRS 68021 had been restyled into Transpennine Express livery. Many have already seen the first 'leaked' images of this locomotive on social media, but now the first official image has been released of the loco in its new guise.

TPE is to operate a fleet of 14 Class 68 locomotives, leased from Direct Rail Services. This concerns locos 68019-68032. Interestingly, there will be some minor differences between 68019-68025, featuring small Vossloh logos in their front panels, and 68026-68032 that don't have these logos, because Vossloh España was taken over by Stadler Rail in the meantime.

Youtube video by user MobileRailSpotterRxR of the brand new 4628 and 4629 on transport.

Siemens USA is steadily out-shopping more Charger locomotives for the Midwest (i.e. IDOT). As the video above shows, locos 4628 and 4629 have left the works in Sacramento, leaving only 4630-4633 to be completed. The two locos are part of a second option (12 locos) exercised by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) in 2015, following a first option (3 locos) taken up shortly after the firm order for 18 locomotives in 2014. Meanwhile, solo operations with the first IDOT Chargers in revenue service have commenced. Previously, Charger-hauled trains still operated with older locomotives at the head of the train.

Youtube video by user Trains Magazine of 4620 in revenue service.

An overview of all known Chargers orders part of the IDOT-led joint procurement programme:
- Illinois Department of Transportation: 33 locomotives
- California Department of Transportation: 22 locomotives
- Washington Department of Transportation: 8 locomotives
- Maryland Transit Administration: 8 locomotives

Additionally, All Aboard Florida has 10 locomotives on order for its Brightline services. These locomotives were procured separately.

Related sections:
SiemensChargerCharger: IDOT

DRS 68022 is one of 14 Class 68 locomotives earmarked for TPE operations. Picture by Owen Evans.

DRS 68021 'Tireless' has been restyled into Transpennine Express (TPE) livery at Crewe Gresty Bridge, where Stadler performs modifications to the locos earmarked for TPE operations, enabling them to run with the new Mk.5A coaches being built by CAF. In an interview held in May 2017, TPE states that it will hire 14 locomotives from DRS. The locos involved are 68019-68032. Two locomotives will be shipped to the European mainland, where they will take part in an extensive dynamic testing programme together with the new coaches at the VUZ Velim test ring in the Czech Republic. With the first set of coaches planned to be completed in the third quarter of 2017, the start of testing operations is coming closer.

741 739-7 just after the handover to Lovochemie. Picture by CZ LOKO.

Another Class 741.7 locomotive has made its appearance. The designated 741 739-7 is destined for Lovochemie a.s., a a Czech fertilizer producer, and was produced by the CZ LOKO works in Jihlava. In January 2018, a second locomotive is to join Lovochemie's fleet in the form of 741 740-5.

With the completion of 741 739-7, CZ LOKO has now produced at least 40 Class 741.7 locomotives. ArcelorMittal Ostrava is the largest operator of the type, leasing 20 locomotives from CZ LOKO. A considerable number of locos is operated outside the Czech Republic, namely in Italy (7 locos) and Turkey (2 locos).

Related sections:
CZ LOKO741.7

Stadler's EURO DUAL prototype locomotive 6001 in Hegyeshalom on 1 September 2017. Picture by Herbert Pschill.

Having resided at the Railway Testing Center Făurei in Romania for dynamic testing since May, EURO DUAL prototype locomotive 6001 is now on its way back. On September 1st, it was seen at the Hungarian border station of Hegyeshalom.

Stadler's EURO DUAL prototype locomotive 6001 in Hegyeshalom on 2 September 2017. Picture by Norbert Tilai.

Stadler's EURO DUAL prototype locomotive passing Tata on its way to Hegyeshalom on 31 August 2017. Picture by Kai-Florian Köhn.

Delivered to the UK in late-July, DRS Class 68 locomotives 68032-034 have now entered service. 68032, the last loco of the third batch, has merely received logos and thus sports a basic livery like all other locos of this batch (68026-68032). Locos 68033 and 034 carry the full DRS Class 68 livery.

CZ LOKO has completed the fifth EffiShunter 1600 locomotive for Fenniarail. In the week of August 21st, the designated 105 started its journey towards Finland.

Fenniarail 105 is the second and last locomotive of an order for two of the type, placed by the Finnish open access rail freight operator in December 2016. The first three EffiShunter 1600 locomotives were delivered to Fenniarail in the third quarter of 2015 and marked the start of the company's business as the first locomotives in its fleet.

GBRf 66726 is one of several Class 66 locomotives that has seen its livery change recently. Here the loco is seen in the latest GB Railfreight livery at Tonbridge Yard on 1 September 2017. Picture by Adam McMillan.

There is quite something to report about Class 66 locomotives changing liveries. An overview:

RheinCargo's DE 61 is currently being repainted in the silver RheinCargo colour scheme, thereby losing its HGK livery.

DB Cargo UK
Another four DB Cargo Class 66 locomotives have lost their EWS livery in favour of a DB red one: 66034, 66124, 66130 and 66192.

GB Railfreight
GBRf 66726 has been re-painted into the latest GB Railfreight livery by Arlington Fleet Services at Eastleigh Works (see picture).