Currently, almost 90% of the rail service is done under catenary on the German rail network. However, in the next few years there will also be main lines on which diesel powered units will be underway, because only around 60% of the lines are electrified. So, for example, in the Allgäu area or on the line Nürnberg – Hof diesels are still used a lot. It is a declared goal of the Railroad Transportation Company (EVU) and of politicians to minimize CO2 emissions in the next few years. Certain rail lines, however, are not planned for electrification for a variety of reasons, such as connecting tracks only a few kilometers long for freight service. Here, installation of catenary would not be economically justifiable. The solution is already at hand: The following applies, developing powered units able to run under catenary as well as from diesel pistons. The first tentative attempts did not lead to the desired goal. Bombardier presented a unit with the class 187, which had a diesel motor on board for the "last mile". This only gave the locomotives weak pulling power and merely allowed switching maneuvers without catenary. At Siemens, the engineers were not idle either. The firm was successful with the Vectron, a real achiever, which triggered enthusiasm from one end of the country to the other. Orders have been taken for over 1,000 units. The locomotives are running all over Europe. There is hardly a railroad management, which has not indulged in these technically and visually successful units. A pure diesel variant turned out to be a flop unfortunately and production was stopped. Yet there was success in developing this type further for dual operation. For diesel and electric motive power do not have to be irreconcilably opposed to each other. The first prototype, road number 248 001, was presented in 2019. The internal qualities of this hybrid unit did not initially really convince the managers of DB AG. It was much more private railroad firms, which involved themselves more closely with the subject "Vectron Dual Mode". The two experimental and test units, road numbers 248 001 and 002, went to Railsystems RP, Inc. The initially white painted units were given the colorful and pleasing company colors of the firm. The remarkable thing is the incorporation into the numbering system. The locomotives were designated as the class 248, which would actually fit into the system for purely diesel units.
Visually, the Vectron Dual Mode differs from its pure electric siblings in a variety of ways. The roof only has one pantograph and the former's height has been increased slightly to the maximum permissible dimension. In addition, here you will find the main relay as well as two surge arresters. A small hump can also be recognized because all of the components for a dual unit need space. In addition, the locomotive has clearly become longer compared to the well-known Vectron. It measures over the buffers 19,980 millimeters / 65 feet 6 inches and is thus a good meter / 39 inches longer. On the one side of the locomotive, you will notice the cooling chamber and the two ventilation grills. The first takes in air for the combustion motor and the second one serves to cool the electrical equipment including the traction motors. The service weight is 90 metric tons. The electrical output is indicated at two megawatts / 2,680 horsepower, and the diesel motor puts out 2.4 megawatts / 3,218 horsepower. The maximum speed is 160 km/h / 100 mph.
Railroads are certainly well underway with the Vectron Dual Mode in line with a sustainable climate policy and the expected increase in transport by rail. People can be excited about how these units will prove themselves in harsh everyday conditions at more than just Railsystems RP, Inc. There, where they are already in use, these hybrid units are running without difficulty. Even the change between electric and diesel operation is running smoothly.