Swiss railway operator BLS is to purchase 52 latest-generation Flirt trains from Stadler. The Flirt will replace three older train models, enabling BLS to push ahead with the planned expansion of regional transport in the Berne area.
Peter Spuhler, President of the Board of Directors of Stadler, and BLS CEO Bernard Guillelmon signed a supply contract on January 15.
BLS will use the 52 new trains to replace three older models and harmonize its fleet. Operations, planning and maintenance will be greatly simplified as a result. In addition, BLS can now proceed with the planned expansion of regional transport in the canton of Bern. Measures envisaged by the canton include running trains at 15-minute intervals in the main perimeter of the Bern commuter rail network. 28 trains will be put into service on various commuter rail routes in Bern. BLS is initially only ordering 24 trains rather than 30 for regional express traffic because the Bern-Neuchâtel-La Chaux-de-Fonds line will no longer form part of its regional network in the future. Instead, it will operate as a long-distance route. To make sure that BLS is well equipped for future developments and to guarantee the uniformity of the fleet in the long term, BLS is taking out an option for a further order of trains of the same type.
From mid-2018 Stadler will create a full-scale model – or maquette – in its Bussnang factory. BLS and Stadler will confirm the design of the new trains on the basis of this maquette. The model will help determine elements such as the fittings in the boarding areas, the type and upholstery of the seats, and the size of the tables. To take the needs of passengers into account as much as possible, BLS is involving various customer representatives in the process, such as Pro Bahn, selected passengers, and organisations for disabled travellers. Stadler is expected to start building the first railcar bodies in early 2019. The first trains should be ready to be tested on track by mid-2019. BLS will put the trains into operation gradually between 2021 and 2025.
The new trains are one-storey high and 105 meters long. The trains for commuter rail transport (28 units) and regional express transport (24 units) are technically identical. Both the commuter rail and regional express trains have a low-floor design and spacious boarding areas with standing room, large windows, storage spaces, plug sockets in 1st and 2nd class, and good mobile phone reception. There will also be a catering area on the regional express trains.
Original article © BLS.
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