by Josephine Cordero Sapién
28 Jun 2021
Transport authorities VRR and NWL, both of which operate in the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia (Germany), have chosen CAF as the preferred bidder for more than 60 battery-powered trains along with maintenance services for a period of 30 years.
This is the largest contract for battery-powered trains in the world to date. North-Rhine Westphalia is Germany’s most populous state with almost 18 million inhabitants.
CAF secured this contract just a few days after winning contracts to supply 51 light rail vehicles for Ruhrbahn GmbH and eight additional trams for Freiburg. The battery-powered trains will be able to operate on railway lines that are not yet electrified. Using diesel instead of battery trains on these lines would create 24,000 tons of carbon emissions anually. The Civity BEMU units are battery-electric, meaning that they can also operate with overhead line equipment.
VRR and NWL have ordered two sizes of vehicles: one with 120 seats and one with 160 seats. The multiple units will also deliver level boarding.
“With the NRW-RRX model we have once again managed to motivate the vehicle manufacturers to build and develop vehicles that are both easy to maintain and energy-efficient.”
The NRW-RRX model is a vehicle financing model developed by the transport authorities in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. In a Europe-wide tender the contract partner sought is one who will not just manufacture the vehicles but also maintain them for 30 years. The future operators will be sought in a tender. The transport authorities will then make the vehicles available to the operators. The first time this model was used was for the RRX (Rhein Ruhr Express) vehicles.
The Niederrhein-Münsterland project encompasses seven railway lines: RE10, RE14, RE44, RB31, RB36, RB41 and RB43. Of these, lines RE44, RB31 and RB36 will start carrying passengers in the new rolling stock in December 2025, while the remaining lines will then gradually receive their new trains by December 2028.
In addition to switching from diesel to battery operations on non-electrified lines, the network will also undergo infrastructure modernisations (e.g. signal boxes, lengthening and increasing the height of platforms, storage sidings). These improvements will allow increased capacity through longer trains.
There will be an additional track between Geldern, Krefeld and Neuss and the trains will also run on the reopened line to Kamp-Lintfort.
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Siemens Mobility have signed an MoU with the State of Bavaria to begin testing its hydrogen-powered train from mid-2023.
DB has reported significant damage to rail infrastructure in Germany following the extreme storms in Europe last week.
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