Výzkumný Ústav Železniční, a.s. (VUZ)


Large test circuit of VUZ celebrates 50 years anniversary – PRESS RELEASE


Large test circuit of VUZ celebrates 50 years anniversary. June 5, 2013 passes exactly half of century from the operation opening. Mr. Antonín Blažek, VUZ General Director and Chairmen of the Board says: „Large test circuit is used without any failure to testing and checking new locomotives and wagons already from year 1963. During such long period very interested history happened on this circuit, many rolling stocks ran on its tracks and unique prototypes of locomotives stand and stood in its area. But I believe that the best years of circuit is ahead of us.

History of railway test circuits development

In June 1960 government of Czechoslovakia adopted Resolution on the implementation of the new rail technology and its export under the third five-year plan, which was related to the obligations of Czechoslovakia within the CMEA (The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance). Former Czechoslovak State Railways assumed the construction of the experimental equipment - the railway test circuit. Basic parameters of the test circuit track were designed for speed 160 kmph inserting two straight sections of a min. length of 2,000 m with two curves and a total track length of about 13 km and max. inclination up to 2 ‰. The maximum speed was later increased up to 200 kmph. With respect to these parameters Czechoslovakia identified of six locations where railway test circuit should be built. The final location for the test circuit construction, Velim location, was chosen and approved by the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Czechoslovakia during year of 1960.On December 1960, the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Czechoslovakia decided to layout circuit construction in two phases , which were in May 1964 further expanded the third phase. The first stage consisted especially building a test track of large test circuit (LTC) in length of 13,275 km and an auxiliary track with connecting track to the railway station Velim.

Test track of LTC was ceremonially launched  on June 5, 1963 on the basis of the decree of constitution No. MDS38 839/62-4/1 dated on November 2, 1962. The second stage included the electrification of LTC. It was built catenary line of the special construction which enables power supply either AC or DC current system. In this time, it was clear that in Czechoslovakia will coexist two different traction current system, DC 3 kV and AC 25 kV/50 Hz., and therefore was for electrification of large test circuit chosen set of overhead line system of type " U". The second stage of construction were completed on October 18, 1965 and on December 14, 1965 was started trail operation on electrified track of LTC. At that time, the operation was only in AC system 25 kV/ 50 Hz . The test track had to wait for DC voltage until 1971, during the third stage, when the DC voltage was put into operation together with a small test circuit. After the change of political regime in November 1989 and the opening competitive market in the 90s has been seeking possibilities to have such a quality parameters of the test circuit even more attractive. One of those ways was the establishment of voltage system AC 15 kV / 16 2/3 Hz, mainly used on railway in German speaking countries.

The situation has significantly helped that after the Germany reunification coil-rotation transformers, which transformed three-phase industrial frequency voltage to the single-phase “railway” frequency voltage, were removed from power supply station in East Germany. Therefore two such transformers was bought at a bargain price from DB and consequently in 1998 the AC power system 15 kV / 16 2/3 Hz could be put into operation in the test center.


Test Centre VUZ Velim Modernization

Due to the high financial demands of superstructure maintenance, only the most necessary maintenance was performed until 1990s. In 1995 there was partial exchange of rails on LTC, but after 2000 – after forty years in operation, the test circuit infrastructure already showed marks of wear and tear. Technical parameters of VZO tracks, power supply stations and traction overhead lines not correspond to the requirements of customers. Customers needed to have vehicles with high output tested, much higher than the centre’s infrastructure was able to cope with. The major competitive advantage of the unique test center VUZ - easy access for European rolling stocks producers, optimum length and other building-construction parameters of the test track as well as attractive pricing of offered services – often faded during the negotiations in the technical condition of the equipment test centre. The technical conditions and increasing competition (Zmigród in Poland, Wildenrath in Germany) necessitate test centre reconstruction.

The Test Centre Modernization project was launched in 2005. Its objective was to renew nearly 50-year-old infrastructure of testing tracks and make it competitive for years to come.  It was a basic prerequisite for the continuation of the test centre’s activities.This necessity became even more important when was established of joint-stock company of VUZ (Výzkumný Ústav Železniční, a.s.)on July 1, 2005. The first project, which has not been subsidized from EU funds, was the reconstruction of the superstructure of almost half of LTC in 2005 and 2006 (part of the front direct track and “Prague” curve).This and all subsequent investment in infrastructure has been built in accordance with the Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI). Further modernization of the test center was divided into three phases, the financing was secured in part by EU funds, through the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovations ( OPEI) and the POTENTIAL programme of support.

In the first stage was innovated mainly substation. It comprised the construction of a new power supply substation, including inside technology and increase of the output on the DC traction systems (up to 10 MVA) as well as adjustments enabling deep regulation of power supply voltage. In addition to the above, there was another step of the substation modernization: there was added the electric energy recuperation for DC traction systems, but already without financial support of EU funds.In the second phase was made a complete construction of a new overhead line of LTC with new parameters enabling speed up to 250 kmph and meet TSI requirements and is able to transmit higher traction outputs. The reconstruction of the remaining superstructure of LTC was also completed, so that the entire LTC could facilitate long-term test of max. speed 230 kmph for classic concept  vehicles and vehicles with tilting bodies. There were used  B91S / 1 pre-stressed concrete U-divided sleepers, W14 without fastening system and UIC 60 rail for the track superstructure. The track was constructed as a continuous welded track with a 1:40 inclination in the whole section. In addition a brand new hall for preparation (HPZ II) with a length of 144 meters was built, and two older, shorter halls (HPZ III and HPZ IV) were reconstructed and furthermore the communication and security were also reconstructed and completed in the first half of 2012.

Some accompanying projects were implemented within the second stage, too. Out of them, special mention should go to setting up a 230 m long platform for the purposes of  aerodynamic tests performance of high-speed and conventional or a building a training center for the interoperability of the European railway system.

The "heart " of the entire test center - VZO - enables after the completion of all these buildings full test runs at speeds up to 210 kmph with a weight of 22.5 tons per axle. If special technical and safety conditions of interaction a relevant vehicle with the test track, the test speed can be increased up to 230 kmph. On October 19 and 20, 2011 test runs were carried out at 230 kmph. As a test set was used Pendolino train (Czech railway - ČD unit of the class 680). By the test run was demonstrated the possibility of trouble-free operation at that speed on LTC. On the basis of these tests, the Railway Authority has issued the Approval of the change of the construction speed up to 230 kmph.


VUZ ´s rolling stocks

In 2012 it was decided to prepare and implement the next stage of the project Modernization test center for 2013 - 2015. The financing will be again ensured from EU funds. The main objective of the project is to extend the hall for test preparation, HPZ II up to a total length of approx. 200 m and the oldest hall HPZ I up to in length of 120m, to equip test tracks by a technology of the European Train Control System (ECTS) in level 1 and 2 and to build a solid equipment for checking of running behavior and safety of vehicle on the selected section of LTC.

To the test circuits is inherently belong rolling stocks in service of VUZ, for which Test Centre Velim (TC Velim) has became their home for a certain period. There were not a few rolling stock in Velim, thus we have to briefly mention at least the most famous. We can start with T334.0797 diesel locomotive, which was purchased from SMZ Hejnice in 1976 for VUZ´s needs and served for shunting in the area of TC Velim until 1996, when it was decommissioned. The locomotive remained several years in Centre and later was sold to a private company, which it restored and renovated, so you can meet loco even today in the front of a nostalgic trains. The weight of shunting in the TC Velim took locomotive T448.0920 instead of the previous one. It was one of the last representatives of an industry- produced series T448.0 of ČKD Praha.

The locomotive T448.0920 was remarked by new label 740 420-5 in year of 1989. To today the locomotive reliably serves the purpose for which it was taken by VUZ.
Certainly we must not forget the locomotive E 469.3030 (now 124 601-6 ), which is closely tied to VUZ and now it is a vehicle, which is for all insiders imagined in connection with railway test circuits. It was made in 1972 by the locomotive produced Škoda Plzeň and it was experimentally equipped by bogies for maximum speed of 200 kmph in the factory, which were developed for locomotives CS200. On September 5, 1972 ,the machine enrolled in the Czech locomotive history, when during one of the test runs on VZO reached a speed of 219 kmph, which was a speed record of Czechoslovak vehicles for a long time. Locomotive worked in TC firstly for the purposes of testing their own manufacturing factory, later was sold to CSD for VUZ, where is still in operation. Another machine that is indelibly associated with VUZ is a prototype of electric locomotive S699.001. This locomotive was purchased for the needs of VUZ in 1965 and used in the tests until the early 80th. Then it was decommissioned for some time, and finally it got back to it producer, who was restored and since 2010 it is possible to see the locomotive as non-operating exhibit in the area of Techmania inside the premises of Škoda Plzeň.

And perhapsone more series of locomotive has own locomotive life largely related to VUZ. It is a locomotive T and T 499.0001 499.0002. Both prototypes were produced ČKD Prague factory in 1974. After an initial trial operation in railway network of ČSD (now ČD - Czech Railways), due to ČSD´s lack of interest in both prototypes, their very moved to VUZ, where mainly the second one used until the early 90s, the first prototype was scrapped already at the end of 80s in the area of TC Velim. After many years, it seems that the machine T 499.0002 will return to where it belongs - on the test circuit. Currently T499.0002 is under extensive repairing process in DPOV Nymburk, and this autumn it should be again in operation condition available for the braking, traction and other tests performance.

VUZ arealso associated with vehicles that its locomotive life spent in the service of the ČSD, hence the ČD (Czech railways) and although it did not affect the operating history of TC Velim, it would be a mistake to forget them, because it surely belong the present VUZ. It is a steam locomotive 423.009, which is owned by VUZ. It was produced in 1922 in the Czech-Moravian first factory in Prague (later ČKD). The second Beauty is locomotive T 478.1010, which in 2010 expanded operating group ofVUZ locomotive. In 2007, the machine has been identified for future conservation of the collections of the National Technical Museum (NTM). Two years later VUZand NTM signed a lease agreement ofthis locomotive, with the fact that VUZ will be financially involved in the repair of the vehicle. In April 2010, a fully operational machine was firstly introduced to the general public.


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