8 Belgian class 21 electric locos have been moved across the continent to Poland this week, although there is currently not a lot of information regarding what is planned for them.
One of the 21s now currently in Poland – 2125 seen at Gent Sint Pieters on 04/04/14 (JW)
8 withdrawn examples of the Belgian class 21 have now arrived at Bydgoszcz depot, after a two-week journey across Europe, although there is currently a lot of conjecture but no confirmation as to why this is. The fact that some plans were afoot was reported on this site’s sister Facebook page as long ago as 11th July, when the documentation was prepared for four of the machines to travel east, but at that point it was thought that they were heading to the Czech Republic. The story then went quiet until they set off at the start of this month.
It appears that the general consensus is that they are either for reactivation by CZ Loko – the Czech firm that has recently refurbished similar ex-Belgian loco no.1203 as the prototype “Effiliner 3000” loco – now sold to, and in use by, IDS Cargo – or DEPOL, a firm local to Bydgoszcz notable for having some former East German “Ludmillas” in its fleet. According to Rynek Kolejowy, both companies have neither confirmed nor denied the suggestion.
Poland shares the Belgian 3,000V dc electrification system so there is no technical barrier to the 21s operating there (other than fitment of safety equipment etc, and it is believed that they require an element of asbestos removal). This voltage is also used in the Netherlands, Italy, Slovakia, some of the Czech Republic and Slovenia.
This 60-strong class of electric locos were built by BN in the mid-1980s, and the first withdrawals began in 2014 as the class 18 and 19 Siemens Vectrons and new EMUs bedded in, although many remain in traffic in Belgium.
The machines in question are: 2103, 2104, 2109, 2119, 2120, 2125, 2128 and 2129. Of note is that 2119 was involved in the Buizingen train crash on 15th February 2010 – the most deadly railway accident in Belgium in recent times – although it was undamaged as it was at the rear of its train.