An ICE-TD approaches Berlin Ostbahnhof.
Photo Sebastian Terfloth, Wikipedia Commons
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DB have proposed running the Warsaw-Berlin service with the 125 mph (200 km/h) diesel electric ICE-TD sets which will be released from their existing duties on the Berlin – Århus and Berlin – Copenhagen services in 2011. The line between Berlin and Warsaw is electrified, but at two different standards: 3kV DC in Poland; and 15kV AC in Germany. The use of diesel-electric trains neatly by-passes the need for expensive dual-voltage electric trains. The prospect of travelling between Berlin and Warsaw in 4 hours in an efficient German ICE train is an attractive one. The fact that this could happen a year ahead of 2012, in good time to debug any problems that could arise, before Poland’s co-hosts the European Cup surely makes the proposal a ‘no brainer’. So why is Krzysztof Celinski, who took over as chairman of PKP InterCity in January this year not too keen?
Europe railway electrification standards.
Map Jklamo, Wikipedia Commons
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It could just be that Mr Celinski wants to put some ‘clear blue water’ between the course that he is now steering at the helm of PKP InterCity and that steered by his predecessor Czeslaw Warsewicz. But there are also good reasons why the proposal is not such a good idea. In order to fast on existing tracks the ICE-TD trains need to tilt, but the tilting mechanism on the ICE TD (unlike the mechanism on the electric ICE T sets) has given trouble from the start. In fact the train works best with the device switched out which puts paid to a Warsaw – Berlin run of 4 hours. Another killer is that Warszawa Centralna station and the cross-Warsaw railway tunnel was designed from the start for electric traction and lacks the ventilation arrangements necessary to cope with diesel exhaust. Fortunately, PKP IC had a ‘Plan B’. By 2011 the company will have taken delivery of 10 Taurus/Huszarz ES64U4 Eurosprinter locomotives from Siemens. The locos have a top speed of 200 km/h, are multi voltage and should – given the completion of projected track improvements – be quite capable of delivering a Warsaw – Berlin time of 4½ hours.
So should PKP IC dump the ICE TD proposal? For the Warsaw – Berlin service, almost certainly; but half a dozen train ICE TD train sets for services between Warsaw (Warszawa Gdanska) and Kiev, Lviv, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk in the Ukraine during the 2012 football championships could come in very useful. Who knows, if the sets were a great success they could afterwards be pressed into service between Cracow – Katowice – Wroclaw and Berlin until someone comes up with a better idea.