As a replacement for the electric locomotives of the Eurosprinter family and the diesel locomotives of the Eurorunner family, Siemens developed the Vectron without a customer order, which was to combine both families in one platform. This was also necessary because the Eurosprinter was still based on the DB AG class 152, which had been produced since 1996, and the Taurus was also largely created from the requirements of the ÖBB. As a result, these locomotives were not adaptable enough to be able to offer different variants for different customers at an attractive price. Likewise, new crash standards had come into force in the meantime, which the older locomotive families could no longer fully comply with.
This was directly preceded by the ES 2007, which had been sold to the Portuguese State Railways as the 4700 series and to the Belgian State Railways as the 18 and 19 series. This had already implemented the new frontend concept to meet the new crash standards. This meant that, unlike those on the Taurus, the ends of the locomotives were made of steel and could be replaced after an accident. The modular Vectron was developed from these locomotives in order to be able to counter the competitors from Bombardier and Alstom.
Although all Vectrons look almost identical from the outside, it was not entirely possible to combine the electric and diesel variants in an identically designed locomotive body. The electric variants continue to have a central aisle in the engine room, while the diesel engine and generator are arranged in the middle on the diesel variants. Nevertheless, the equipment of the Vectron is very flexible, with which all train protection systems used in Europe can be installed and track gauges between 1,435 and 1,676 mm can be implemented.
Power is transmitted via quills with multi-plate clutches, which has been simplified compared to the Taurus drive. The standard top speed is 160 km/h and can optionally be increased to 200 km/h. In 2019, a variant for 230 km/h was announced, which has modified bogies and was delivered to CD for the first time in 2022. Also optional are active rotary dampers, which actively adjust the steering angle of the bogies. A so-called shunting module can also be ordered as an option, which consists of a 180 kW auxiliary diesel with generator and allows running on non-electrified sections at low speed.
BLS Cargo Re 475 401 in September 2020 near Lyssach
In the purely electric variants, a distinction is made between AC, DC and MS. The AC is used in alternating current systems with 15 or 25 kV and has an output of 6,400 kW in the “High Power” variant and 5,600 kW in the “Medium Power” variant. The DC can be used under direct current with 3,000 and 1,500 volts and has an output of 5,200 or 3,500 kW. The MS is suitable for AC and DC systems, but cannot be supplied with a shunting module due to insufficient space.
Due to the large number of variants, more than 1,700 Vectrons could already be delivered by the beginning of 2023, with more than 700 open orders. There are already certifications for 20 countries. Some customers have ordered the locomotives with further adjustments, such as the Finnish State Railways. The locomotives used there as Sr3 have a higher roof with larger ventilation grilles to protect against icing, two shunting modules, impact shields on the front-end modules and side cab windows, which are otherwise not available.
The Smartron is offered as a simplified, non-configurable variant for small railway companies. In addition to the fully electric variants, there are also the diesel-electric DE and the dual-mode variant DM. After the DE was discontinued due to lack of demand, a Vectron DM Light is now also being offered. Two modifications with major adjustments are produced for the USA. On the one hand, there is the electric “Amtrak Cities Sprinter” ACS-64 and on the other hand the diesel locomotives of the Charger family, which have enjoyed great popularity since 2015.