Report finds light at the end of the tunnel for troubled IC4

Danish State Railways (DSB) has been told it is possible to achieve its target of having 74 of the trouble-stricken IC4 trains in service by 2019.

Commissioned by DSB, Prose – in association with Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and Enotrac – has produced an independent report suggesting that the Danish operator can hit availability and reliability targets with its troubled IC4/2 fleet.

Originally due to be delivered from 2003, completion of the order was delayed by eight years, with the last of the 82 IC4 trainsets ordered only arriving in Denmark in October last year, reducing the life cycle of the IC4/2 fleet from 25 to 15 years.

“Due to the delay in the procurement of the trainsets and therefore the shorter usable life cycle of the fleet, the investment made is poor,” the report stated.

DSB originally ordered 82 four-car IC4 and 23 two-car IC2 trains. To date, 67 trains are approved for passenger operation – of which 12 are now in regular passenger service – and five have been ‘cannibalised’ for spare parts. Altogether, the fleet has covered just 10.8 million kilometres, 30 per cent of which has been completed this year. Four trains have completed zero kilometres in operation.

The report found that it was “realistic” that DSB could have 74 IC4 units in service by 2019. Its aim of achieving reliability levels of 20,000 kilometres between failures was also achievable according to the study.

The AnsaldoBreda rolling stock has suffered various engineering challenges and the trains are currently restricted to single traction operation with a reduced maximum speed. Poor reliability and regular inspections have also led to high operational costs, the report found. To repair issues with the power packs, axle box housings and brake systems, it will cost DSB in the region of DKK 1.5 million (€202,000) per train set. DSB’s aim is to be able to eventually run the trains in multiple operation at 180 km/h.

In order to reach this level of operation, the report recommended DSB employ more engineers and workshop staff, including new engineers to form a taskforce to deal with the power pack issues, at least two more train computer and monitoring systems (TCMS) engineers and at least 40 additional workshop employees.

The report recommends that the IC4 sets be used primarily in long-distance/interregional traffic to reduce the demand on the trains created by regular stopping in regional operation. Prose also sought to establish the economic argument for operating the diesel rolling stock given Denmark’s accelerated efforts to electrify its network. Togfonden – a new rail infrastructure funding model based on further taxation of North Sea oil extraction – will generate €3.82 billion over the next 10 years, funding the rail electrification programme.

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