After nearly a year of test drives and administrative processes, the Finnish Transport and Communication Agency Traficom granted the permission for the first C30-MF locomotive constructed in Operail’s depot in Tapa, Estonia, to operate on the Finnish public railway.
Until now, Operail Finland, the Finnish subsidiary of the Estonian railway company AS Operail, performed shunting operations with Wabtec PowerHaul freight locomotives. From now on, these operations will be performed in the Kotka harbour with the C30-MF locomotive Jakob, constructed by Operail itself.
According to Raul Toomsalu, Chairman of the Board of Operail, adopting the C30-MF makes things considerably easier because, unlike PowerHaul, the C30-MF is specifically designed for shunting work. “PowerHaul has a cab at both ends, so to change direction, the locomotive driver needs to cross the corridor each time to go to the other cab. The C30-MF, however, can be operated in both directions from the same cab. In addition, the C30-MF has more suitable transmission for shunting operations and is considerably shorter,” Toomsalu listed the advantages of the C30-MF.
To put the C30-M, which was built in Estonia, into service in Finland, the locomotive had to undergo a number of modifications, including re-turning the profile of the wheelsets, as the track gauge of the Finnish railway is 4 mm wider than in Estonia. Modifications also had to be made to the refuelling and radio systems, for example. The C30-M adapted for Finnish railways was renamed C30-MF.
The C30-MF 1570, nicknamed Jakob, arrived in Finland almost a year ago. To transport it across the bay, the locomotive was partially dismantled, i.e. the bogies were removed and lifted on board the ship. Over the past year, the locomotive has undergone testing and setup and drivers have been trained in Finland on the basis of a driving practice permit.
Operail Finland will initially operate one C30-MF locomotive, but the Finns have also shown interest in a remote-controlled version of the locomotive.
Operail started the C30-M project in 2016 and presented the first C30-M locomotive built in Tapa in autumn 2018. To date, 12 locomotives have been built. The Tapa depot of Operail is the only place in Estonia where locomotives are built.
The C30-M is a modern modular locomotive that is significantly more environmentally friendly than previous locomotives and is suitable for both shunting and freight transport. The locomotive is assembled using the body frame and running gear of С30-7Ai locomotive by General Electric and modules designed by the European manufacturer CZ Loko. Each C30-M locomotive built at the Tapa depot is named after former Tapa station masters. Jakob, which operates in Finland, was named after Jakob Roplik, who was the manager of Tapa station from 1940 to 1941.
The six-axle C30-MF weighs 135 tonnes, has an axle load of 22.5 tonnes, and is AC/DC electrically powered. The locomotive is powered by a Caterpillar 3512C HD diesel engine rated at 1,550 kW (2,079 hp) and a top speed of 100 kilometres per hour.
Operail is an Estonian state-owned railway company whose main lines of business are freight transport, locomotive and wagon repair and construction, and rolling stock rental. In addition to the parent company (AS Operail), the Operail Group also includes the rolling stock maintenance and repair company Operail Repairs OÜ, the wagon rental companies AS Operail Leasing and Operail Leasing Finland Oy, and the Finnish railway transport company Operail Finland Oy.