Powering Progress: ABB's Locomotive Revolution

ABBImage Source: ABB


ABB, in collaboration with local partner Reloc, secures a transformative project to upgrade 19 locomotives for Romania’s state-owned railway. The retrofit, supported by the EU, involves the delivery of advanced transformers, converters, and electric motors, enhancing energy efficiency and reliability. The initiative aligns Romania with European transport standards, aiming for a remarkable speed increase from 120 km/h to 160 km/h. The refurbishment promises substantial energy savings, modernizing the locomotives for a sustainable and high-speed future.


In a strategic move to elevate Romania's railway infrastructure, ABB, a global technology leader, has embarked on a transformative project to upgrade 19 locomotives operated by CFR Călători, the country's state-owned railway passenger transport company. Partnering with local contractor Reloc, ABB aims to revolutionize the locomotive fleet, bringing it in line with European transport standards and significantly enhancing energy efficiency and reliability.

The project, secured in Q4 2023, entails the delivery of a complete traction chain, comprising cutting-edge transformers, converters, and electric motors. This comprehensive upgrade is expected to propel Romania's aging locomotives into a new era of efficiency, aligning with the urgency of modernizing the country's public transport infrastructure.

The retrofit project, supported by the EU and funded through Romania's National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), addresses critical issues in the country's transportation landscape. Currently, Romania's passenger trains operate at an average speed of only 40 km/h, underscoring the pressing need for modernization. The locomotive upgrade, with its ambitious speed increase from 120 km/h to 160 km/h, is poised to bring Romania's railways in line with contemporary European standards.

Gratian Calin, Chairman of Reloc, emphasizes the importance of timely delivery and energy-efficient solutions in this project. He states, "The ability to meet challenging deadlines, combined with their expertise to offer significant efficiency improvement and drive chain competence made ABB the obvious choice of partner to secure the success of this project."

The retrofit aims not only to boost the locomotives' speed but also to bring about substantial energy and maintenance savings. Modernizing the traction system to 6 MW, coupled with the use of advanced IGBT traction converters, new traction transformers, and AC traction motors, promises overall drive train efficiency improvements of approximately 5%. Additionally, the incorporation of modern technology is expected to achieve a 15% energy savings through the recuperation of energy during braking.

Roger Affolter, Head of Retrofit at ABB Traction, highlights the significance of reliability in this endeavor. He notes, "Boosting the reliability of CFR’s locomotives will be key to this success as each one is expected to clock up some 278,000 km a year. That is where ABB’s capability to provide the complete traction chain, fully tried and tested for tough conditions, really creates value."

The locomotive retrofit project signifies a pivotal step towards a sustainable, efficient, and high-speed future for Romania's railways. ABB's comprehensive solution not only addresses the immediate need for speed enhancement but also positions the country's locomotives for long-term energy and operational efficiency.


ABB's partnership with Reloc and the comprehensive locomotive retrofit project exemplify a commitment to transforming Romania's railways. By embracing advanced technology and energy-efficient solutions, this initiative paves the way for a sustainable and high-speed future in the realm of rail transport.

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