UK: CAF to Supply Catenary-Free Trams to Birmingham

Spanish rolling stock manufacturer CAF has won a tender to supply 21 catenary-free Urbos trams to the city of Birmingham. The contract with West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) also includes an option for 29 further vehicles.

CAF will begin delivering the trams from its Urbos range in late 2021. It will also provide technical support services and spare parts for a period of 30 years. In total this contract is worth more than 90 million euros.

In 2012 CAF supplied the 21 Urbos 3 trams in operation for the West Midlands Metro. They entered service in 2014/15. In 2018 then these units underwent an upgrade. CAF fitted them with on-board rechargeable ion-lithium batteries to allow them to operate on new parts of the network built without overhead lines. The trams in this new order will feature that same energy-storage solution.

A CAF Urbos 3 tram in Birmingham

A CAF Urbos 3 tram in Birmingham

In addition to avoiding the need for on-site infrastructure installations, which could be disruptive and which would impact the architectural aesthetic negatively, the rechargeable batteries also make the trams substantially more energy efficient.

West Midlands Metro Network

The metro network currently features one line, which runs from Grand Central (Birmingham New Street) to Wolverhampton St George’s. An extension to Wolverhampton Railway Station is currently under way. To the south, works are under way to extend the line to Edgbaston via Centenary Square. A second line for the metro network to Stourbridge is also in planning, as is an extension to Coventry.

Catenary-Free Trams

The 21 new CAF trams will join the existing Urbos Fleet on Birmingham’s Line 1. The Centenary Square extension will open in early 2020. That will make it the first commercial tram line in the United Kingdom to operate a catenary-free system.

Unlike Alstom’s ground-level power supply, however, these trams use overhead power to recharge the batteries at stations. The trams are able to cover several kilometres thanks to the lithium batteries and the fact that they take advantage of recovering braking energy.

Urbos 3 Trams for Birmingham

CAF’s Urbos 3 trams will be articulated and bi-directional, featuring two cabs. They are low-floor and can run at a top speed of 70km/h.

Richard Garner, CAF UK Director, said:

“CAF is delighted to have been selected to provide additional state-of-the-art Urbos trams for this ground-breaking UK metro line. The CAF Urbos tram will be the first example of battery technology being used in a high intensity passenger service here in the UK. The Urbos modern, spacious design will provide passengers with a quiet, smooth and comfortable travel experience.”


CAF says it is happy with this further contract in the United Kingdom. It has contracts with Arriva UK, First Group, Serco Group Plc, West Midlands Trains Ltd, KeolisAmey and Transport for London. In total, these contracts amount to a value of around 2.5 billion euros.

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Rolling Stock, Components, Infrastructure, Signalling & Services

Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), a Spanish public company, is a multinational group with over 100 years of experience in the supply of comprehensive transit solutions positioned at the forefront of technology for high value added sustainable mobility. CAF is a leader of the railway industry offering one of the most comprehensive and flexible arrays of products in railway related markets, such as; rolling stock, components, infrastructure, signalling and services (maintenance, refurbishing and financial services). [gallery ids="26458,26460,26459"]

High Speed Trains, Regional & Commuter Trains, Metros, Trams & Locomotives

CAF offers an extensive range of products covering all types of rolling stock: High Speed Trains: CAF has extensive experience in this area. CAF’s decisive commitment to R+D has led to the development of a wide range of state-of-the-art high speed trains, fitted with cutting-edge technology with regard to design, safety and comfort. Regional and Commuter Trains (Diesel and Electric): CAF is committed to development within the rail sector, offering an extensive range of high performance regional and commuter trains that are able to offer some highly competitive traveling times for short, medium and long distance services. All of our trains are designed with passenger comfort in mind and feature the very latest safety technology. Metros: CAF boasts the Inneo solution: a wide range of metro solutions designed to meet the specific needs of each and every customer. Inneo metros are equipped with cutting edge safety, performance and comfort technology. Inneo designs pursue maximum energy efficiency by passenger capacity optimisation in each unit. Trams: With their avant-garde design and flexibility the CAF trams give each city its own identity. The family of Urbos trams meets the most exacting requirements with regard to eco-design and accessibility, blending into the urban environment whilst maintaining a high performance level. Locomotives (Diesel and Electric): CAF has a long-standing tradition in the design and manufacture of both diesel and electric locomotives. Our locomotives can be fitted with a special bogie system which can run on different track gauges, indistinctly. [gallery ids="11947,11948,11949"]

Rolling Stock Wheelset Equipment & Components

CAF enjoys a long-standing experience of more than 80 years in the design, manufacture and sale of wheel sets, wheels, axles gear units and couplers for the rail market. This extensive range of rolling stock wheelset equipment & components is designed not only for the rolling stock made by CAF, but also for many other rail authorities, other rolling stock manufacturers and the remaining manufacturing companies in the sector. Our rolling stock solutions are certified to the principal Quality Assurance schemes, such as IRIS (International Railway Industry Standard), ISO 9001, AAR (Association of American Railroads) or RISAS (Railway Industry Supplier Approval Scheme). [gallery ids="26453,26452,26451"]

Railway Signalling Systems

CAF Signalling designs, manufactures, supplies and maintains railway signalling systems, providing integral solutions both for wayside and onboard applications. CAF Signalling has its own technology, a top expertise in engineering and the ability to manage complete projects, including testing, commissioning, and maintenance. Its range of products and services includes complete solutions for all types of rail systems. CAF's railway signalling systems range includes the following products: [gallery ids="26455,26454,26456"]

Traction and Communication Systems

CAF Power & Automation develops sustainable and highly reliable traction and communication systems that respond to the needs of a sector geared towards intelligent mobility. CAF Power & Automation’s range of solutions includes the following products: " ["post_title"]=> string(48) "Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF)" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(46) "construcciones-y-auxiliar-de-ferrocarriles-caf" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2019-10-25 15:24:25" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2019-10-25 14:24:25" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(70) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(146) ["post_type"]=> string(9) "suppliers" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" }