Locomotive built in Tapa licensed to operate on Finnish railway

Loading the C30-M locomotive Jakob, built in Operail's Tapa depot, onto the ship.
Loading the C30-M locomotive Jakob, built in Operail's Tapa depot, onto the ship. Source: Raul Mee

After nearly a year of test drives and administrative processes, Finnish Transport and Communication Agency Traficom granted permission for the first C30-MF locomotive built at the Estonian state-owned Operail's Tapa depot to operate on Finland's public railway.

Until now, Operail Finland, the Estonian railway company's Finnish subsidiary, had performed shunting operations with Wabtec PowerHaul freight locomotives. From now on, however, these operations will be performed at Kotka Harbor with the Estonian-built C30-MF locomotive, nicknamed Jakob, Operail said in a press release.

According to Operail board chairman Raul Toomsalu, adopting the C30-MF will make things considerably easier, as unlike the PowerHaul, the new locomotive is specifically designed for shunting work — i.e. sorting rolling stock into complete trains, or the reverse.

"The 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," Toomsalu explained. "The C30-MF, however, can be operated in both directions from the same cab. The C30-MF also has a more suitable transmission for shunting operations, and is considerably shorter."

The newly licensed C30-MF locomotive Jakob, built at Operail's Tapa depot, on its first working day in Finland. Source: Konsta Kuokka

In order for the Estonian-built C30-M to be put into service in Finland, the locomotive had to undergo a number of modifications, including the re-turning of the profile of the wheelsets, as Finland's railway uses the 1,524 mm track gauge — the original Russian gauge — which is 4 mm wider than the 1,520 mm track gauge used in Estonia.

Modifications had to be made to the locomotive's refueling and radio systems as well, and thus the C30-M adapted for Finnish railways was renamed the C30-MF.

Nicknamed Jakob, the C30-MF 1570 first arrived in Finland nearly a year ago already. Since then, it 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 Finland has also shown interest in a remote-controlled version of the locomotive, the company said.

Operail started its C30-M project in 2016, completing construction on its first Tapa-built locomotive in fall 2018. Each C30-M locomotive built at the depot is named after a former Tapa station master. The locomotive now operating in Finland was named after Jakob Roplik, who served as Tapa station master from 1940-1941.

To date, the company has built 12 locomotives in Tapa.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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