unit 1860 on the Innotrans 2008 railway fair in Berlin, September 2008
In September 2008, there was the first chance to take a good look on a HLE 18 in real live, as the first machine was presented in the Innotrans railway fair in Berlin that month. Surprisingly, the 18 series was represented by unit no. 1860, the very last one of the batch to be delivered to SNCB/NMBS. By building the last unit of the serie first (next to 1801 and 1802 which were also ready by that time) it gives Siemens extra time to take care of the extensive certification processes of these new machines, and at the same time, gain experience with the new machines in everyday practice.
As you can see, the 18 series has only two pantographs, one for DC and one for AC catenary. It's bogie design is similar to that of the Austrian Taurus locomotives, but with improved and more compact convertors. Weight was an important issue during the development of the Belgian 18 series. The new body design and cab units put on extra weight (1,5 t) to the EuroSprinter concept. Combine this with the high speed bogies (which are heavier than bogies for 140 kph freight traffic for example) and the multi-system equipment of the locomotive, and it could get too heavy. Siemens therefore decided to reduce the weight of the transformator, by leaving out the possibility to run under 15kV AC catenary, and by configurating it for a lower duration power output of 6.000 kW (3kV DC and 25kV AC) and 2.500kW (1,5 kV DC) compared to 6.400 kW which seems to have become a standard for modern Siemens electrics.