E626 106, FS, photographed in Pisa on May 1, 1992, by someone who wants to be known as MPW57. Source: www.commons.wikimedia.org.
E626 294, FS, Museo Nazionale dei Transporti, La Spezia, 29.10.2006. Author unknown, source: as above.
361 201 operated by JŽ, location unknown. Photographed on Janauary 12, 2008, by someone who wants to be known as Suradnik13. Source: as above
Italian electric locomotives class E626 (also written as E 626 or E.626) never served with PKP or any other Polish operator. They saw, however, some service with Ostbahn in Warsaw railway hub between 1943 and 1944 and therefore deserve some attention here.
Warsaw railway hub was electrified in the second half of 1930s, with 3000 V DC. In all, ten locomotives were purchased, along with 76 EMUs. Many of them were destroyed (four locomotives and fourteen EMUs) or damaged during hostilities in September 1939 and infrastructure also suffered considerably. However, German authorities decided to restore electric trains. Six locomotives and forty EMUs were repaired and restored in service, but more vehicles were needed. Furthermore, pre-war PKP electric locomotives (classes EL.100 and especially EL.200) were too weak for heavy freight trains passing through Warsaw. It was therefore decided to find suitable motive power elsewhere and the choice fell on Italian class E626.
In 1926 Italian state railways Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) issued a requirement for an electric locomotive for the Foggia-Benevento line, electrified with 3000 V DC. This requirement produced a six-axle (Bo’BoBo’) locomotive with total weight of 94.5 tonnes, offered in two variants differing in reduction gear ratio, designated E625 and E626. Three prototypes built by Societá Nazionale Officine di Savigliano were delivered in 1927; electric equipment was supplied by British Metropolitan Vickers. Fourteen examples for service tests followed: eight E625s with lower gear ratio and six E626s. Series production started in 1930 and all E625s were later converted to the E626 standard. The locomotive, if not particularly advanced technically, was found robust and reliable. Its main problem, at least initially, was with traction motor suspension, which forced reduction of maximum speed to 95 km/h. Production lasted until 1939 and totaled 448 examples from several manufacturers in three batches; this type was the first mass-built European electric locomotive. Later vehicles differed in minor details; in particular, front and rear cowlings were reduced in size to improve track visibility. After the war, seventeen examples were handed over to Yugoslavia, where they served with state railways JDŽ (later JŽ) as class E361 in Slovenia and Croatia until 1978. In Italy FS class E626 enjoyed a long service life. Withdrawals started in 1970s, much to the relief of crews who complained of poor cab comfort, mainly noisy transmission. Fourteen examples were sold to private operators and the last one, E626 194, served with a rescue train until 1999. Several E626s (probably eighteen) have been preserved and some run with special trains.
In October 1943 Ostbahn acquired six E626s
built by Breda and based at the
Udine depot, with service numbers 015, 016, 017, 019, 021 and 024.
E626 015 was left during transportation in Salzburg (probably damaged by
bombs) and returned to FS in 1951.
The remaining five examples served in Warsaw until September 1944, when
advance of the Red Army forced their evacuation to Breslau (now Wrocław). E626 016 was found in Bavaria and returned
to FS in October 1945. The
remaining four locomotives ended up in Czechoslovakia. Three were converted
to the 1500 V voltage and served in Prague, classed E666.0; E626 019 was
cannibalized for spares. In 1962, following the switch to 3000 V DC in the
Prague area, three remaining E666.0s were transferred to other lines. Second
conversion of these elderly engines was considered unjustified and all were
scrapped until 1966.
Main technical data
1) Operated by Ostbahn in occupied Poland.
References and acknowledgments
- (website by Daniel Hentschell);
- Elektryfikacja PKP na przełomie wieków XX i XXI (Electrification of PKP at the turn of the 20th century) (Z.P. Poligrafia, Warsaw, 2006).