Being built in 1995, the pre-series BB 36001 was outshopped at GEC Alsthom's Belfort factory in January 1996. From then, the approval process started. Serie delivery was initiated in 1997. In 1998, a provisional limited authorization was granted for France, while a second batch of thirty locomotives was ordered, to boost freight traffic with Italy.
International services to Belgium and Italy
The year 2000 saw the 36000 getting approved for operation in Italy, and the beginning of the delivery of the second batch; BB 36031 to 060. Where the first batch had a red cabin front, the second serie got this part painted in green, the new base colour of all French locomotives running for the new freight division of the French railways at that time; Fret SNCF.
Adjustments for services in Italy; the BB 36200 and BB 36300 subseries
Locomotives sold to Trenitalia and Akiem
From 2003 to 2007, all the locomotives from the second batch were modified, to be better fitted for heavy freight haulage through the Alps. Multiple unit control and automatic fire detection/extinction was installed. In a first step, twelve locomotives were modified and renumbered as BB 36200. Eight other locomotives received the same modifications, plus SAFI (emergency brake override), for use with the AFA (Rolling motorway) from Aiton [F] to Orbassano [I]. They were renumbered as BB 36300. Step by step, all BB 36200s were then converted to the BB 36300 version. Finally, in 2006 and 2007, also the 36051 to 36060 were converted into BB 36300s, so all second batch units are the same since then. Also, the "greens" are all specialized for the international France-Italy connection. BB 36300s can run in multiple, but that is only allowed in Italy and France under 1,5 kV DC.
32 units are no longer property of the French railways: In 2005, as a participation in providing rolling stock for AFA, Trenitalia purchases the BB 36339 and BB 36348 from the SNCF. In July 2010, BB 36001 to 36030 were sold to lease company Akiem. Now being lease locomotives, several machines are hired to other operators as SNCF, in France and abroad.