60 locomotives delivered as BB 36000 series
We hope to add the SNCB 1300 and CFL 3000 series soon.
In the early nineties, the delivery of 264 synchrone two-system BB 26000 "Sybic" series by GEC Alsthom to the French railways (SNCF) is ongoing. To improve international traffic between France and Belgium in the North and Italy in the South, a tri-system version (including 3 kV DC capabilites) is foreseen for the last thirty locomotives of the Sybic batch.
At that moment, GEC Alsthom is also trying to develop a new locomotive platform with a new asynchrone propulsion system, since the Sybic has no success at export. An agreement is reached with SNCF; the original Sybic contract is amended. The last batch of thirty locos will be delivered as tri-system asynchrone locomotives, which resulted in the first batch of the new serie BB 36000. This type was initially nicknamed “Asytric” or “Asytrit”, but finally the name “Astride” became most widespread. It stands for “Asynchrone Tri-system Drive Engine".
The “Astride” design is at the state of the art in the mid nineties: It has four independent traction chains, one for each asynchrone traction motor. Water-cooled GTO controlled rectifiers are installed for best power factor under AC supply. It has water cooled GTO PWM inverters. The Astride has its full duration power of 5600 kW available under all AC and DC system supplies, thanks to the controlled rectifiers (for 25 kV), reconfigured as step-up (1,5 kV) or step-down (3 kV) choppers. This feature remains unique for a 1,5 kV DC locomotive until now. It also has disc brakes mounted on the wheels. However, some old-school choices remain, inherited of the Sybic. Its exterior design is modified; the sharp edges and straight lines of the Sybic body are replaced by a more friendly, but less iconic, design with rounded edges and plastic front. The base livery of the first batch is a duo-tone in grey, with white and red accents up front.
The first Astride (SNCF BB 36001) leaves Belfort in January 1996. From there it would take until 2002 before all sixty units, also including a second batch of thirty, would be in service of the SNCF. More details about the BB 36000 can be found in the corresponding section at this site.
The Astride-concept was also sold to Belgium and Luxembourg. Together they ordered 80 units in 1997. Sixty machines were delivered as HLE 13 to the Belgium railways (SNCB/NMBS) and twenty (well 19 in the end) to Luxembourg as 3000 series.