On 26.10.2006, Alstom announced that its president, Patrick Kron, and the Chinese minister of transport, Mr. Liu Zhijun, signed a letter of intent that included the construction of 500 modern electrics for the Chinese National Railways. The deal was closed while the French president Mr. Sarkozy to China was on a trade mission in China. The contract that came out of this deal had a value of 1,2 billion Euro. 300 million Euro for Alstom, 900 million Euro for its local partner in this project, Datong Electric Locomotives.
The technical demands of these new electrics were impressive; asynchrone six-axle locomotives with 9600 (!) kW duration power with a top speed of 120 kph, able to haul trains up to 8000 tonnes. Alstom decided that the concept of these machines had to be based on the Prima platform.
First there were some rumours about a DJ-8 designation for these new Alstom machines, but the Chinese decided that it had to be the HXD 2B series. Remarkable is that Alstom's competitors from Europe were awarded with two identical orders, also for 500 six-axle electrics, for Siemens this resulted in the HXD 1B series, the Bombardier units are now known as HXD 3B series.
The contract details about who was going to built what and where would take place changed over time. The initial contract told us that 100 units had to be built in Belfort, Alstom's locomotive factory, and 400 units in China. In March 2007 it was decided that Belfort would only assemble ten units completely, followed by 190 building kits to be shipped to China. It is still not known to us what the final numbers are concerning the production.
However, around the summer of 2009, the first complete unit was spotted outside of the Belfort factories; A long locomotive with the standard Prima cab design and painted in blue and grey. This unit had a grey painted nose section.
In November 2009, another unit visited the Velim test tracks in the Czech Republic.
Another HXD 2B unit arrived in Austria on 09.12.2009, for climate test at the RTA Rail Tec test center. As the size of the HXD 2B exceeds the standard European loading gauge, transport by ship and road was the only way to get it in Vienna.