ELECTRIC MULTPLE UNITS - 3 kV DC, 15 kV AC, 25 kV AC, normal gauge

Class 680, ie. "Czech Pendolino"

It is very long story, which started to turn in real in  1995 with the order for ten units,  awarded in August 1995 to a consortium of Fiat Ferroviaria, Siemens, CKD Praha Holding and Moravskoslezská vagonka (MSV) Studenka. MSV Studenka had to deliver interiors and CKD should ensure bodies' construction and final assembly. The price was declared at 415 million CZK (ie. about 11,5 million EUR in rate of that time), which was deeply underestiamted and totally unreal. With the tilting bogies delivered by Fiat and electric equipment ordered by Siemens, it should result in quite original and unique Czech construction. Time went on, and it became real, that the Czech industry is not able to carry so substantial share on this project, furthermore both the Czech involved companies were struggled with existential troubles, MSV was purchased by CKD and CKD Dopravni systemy was later filled for bankruptcy. Thus lot of many were spent (and stolen during end of CKD existence) with result equaling to zero. Whole the contract was resolved and removed completely to Fiat, ie. today's ALSTOM. Moreover the number of units was lowered to more realistic seven for the initial price. The design is based on proven ETR 470 units, just with the new combination of current systems and with installing of ERTMS.

The prototype unit entered the Czech republic on 18 June 2003 at about 20 h evening. On 24 June, it was presented to public as well as to official guests in Prague and the same day, the unit was removed to the ZZO Cerhenice test circuit. The running tests started there on 30 June and still continue up to now.

A few spots from the very beginning of testing - ZZO Cerhenice on 3 July 2003

As usual with prototypes, many troubles had to be solved. Some of them seemed to be caused by not too perfect work of the Savigliano factory but some also by unsufficiently defined technical conditions and description of the design, specified by Czech railways. When it was declared to do something "as usually", noone can wonder when it is done according to the Italian usuals. The tests got very soon substantial delay, caused not only by technical troubles, but als by the fact, that the manufacturer didn't deliver the technical documentation in Czech language. It had to be translated during the first months of testing and the last sections were delivered in about November 2003. From this reason, as well as until the most
substantial technical troubles will be solved, Czech railways interrupted the payments for the units as well as the deliveries. Continuing of the deliveries was agreed in the fall of 2003 and in mid February 2004, the second should arrive, with the others following with monthly frequency. The second unit will undergo tests as well, the others will be stored until the design will be commissioned for test traffic on normal network.

It is now almost impossible to shorten the delay of  testing, because end of October, one of the Bombardier built AGC prototype units reached the test facility, with its Large circuit booked until end of February, everyday except Sundays from 8 to 20 h ! Thus Pendolino can cover its further kilometres on Sundays, during nights or when AGC exceptionally doesn't run.

It wasn't before beginning of 2004, when Pendolino left the text facility for the first, but  it still wasn't by its own power (still not certified). Before four measuring axles, offered by DB
System Technik (former Forschungs- und Technologie Zentrum) Minden, will be mounted on the unit, it was neccessary to adjust diameter of all its wheels to the same value (882 mm). Thus the unit was transported to Nymburk depot, where an underwheel lathe is situated. Both bound for Nymburk  and back, the unit was dragged by 751 017.
Journey ZZO Cerhenice - Velim - Nymburk (32 km), 19 January 2004

Entering Velim station. Here the connection siding from the test circuit meets the public network. From this reason, the circuit is often named as located to Velim. In fact, it is closer to Cerhenice, thus it is also called as located in the latter village.

Kolín station
. Here, the direction of the further way changes, so it was neccessary to couple the locomotive to the other end.

Nymburk depot. The lathe is situated in the blue hall in the background. 

On the lathe.

The unit was transported back on 22 January.

Approx. middle February, it should be transported to Praha Liben depot, where the measuring axles will be mounted.