We had to wait for more than four years, but on 24 July 2008 the big day was there: the new Skoda 109E locomotive had its official roll-out. In Pilsen the blue and silver painted locomotive was presented for the international press that day. With the completion of the machine a whole new era has started for Skoda, presenting its first new electric locomotive development in fifteen years. With the 109E Skoda enters the third millennium with a product that has international ambitions and which does meet all the latest European standards. It is flexible and modular, has a top speed of 200 kph and is compatible with both AC and DC catenaries; basic characteristics of a multisystem locomotive nowadays.
The development of the 109E was initiated after the Czech national railways (CD) awarded Skoda with an order for 20 multisystem electrics in May 2004. The CD already started a first tender for new electrics back in 2002, but a second tender was needed, supported by European funds, to make it possible for the CD to really place an order. The CD plans on using their new locomotives, the designated CD 380 series, for passenger services on main corridors in their home country. Additionally, the CD plans on homologating the 380 series for Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
initial exterior design of the Skoda 109E
Very soon the first design impressions leaked, giving the world an idea how the exterior design of the 109E would be. What we saw was a very futuristic looking silver machine with a rounded cabs and side grids with diagonal lining. Porsche Design was responsible for this design, which immediately gave a face easy to recognize to the new and ambitious plans of Skoda.
revisited exterior design, meeting the EN15227 impact resistance standards
After that, the long and difficult phase started of making a feasible locomotive, able to fulfill its purpose, without loosing the original identity of the design. This process took around two years. In 2006 the final design was presented with a 1:20 scale model on the Innotrans 2006 international railway fair in Berlin. In December that year also a first body of the 1:1 scale version was ready for static testing. It was immediately clear that the looks of the 109E had changed drastically in the mean time.
the first complete body of a 109E is transported to for fatique tests at the end of 2006
Especially the construction of the cabins of the machine had to go through a long process of redesign to meet all the latest regulations concerning driver safety (e.g. fire resistance) and crash impact (deformation zones and energy absorption). Skoda states that the construction of the 109E corresponds to the specific characteristics of the Central European rail infrastructure. The 109E can deal with small curves and minimizes wear on the tracks. Last but not least, the 109E is prepared for installing ECTS, the European standard on board safety and signalling system.