Stadler Rail has been confirmed as preferred bidder to supply a total of 71 trainsets for use on the next Wales & Borders franchise from 2022.
The Swiss company is to supply 36 three-car Citylink tram-train vehicles for use on South Wales Metro services from Cardiff to Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil. These would be able to operate under the planned 25 kV 50 Hz electrification as well as on battery power. This will permit the use of discontinuous electrification, avoiding the complexity, disruption and expense of installing overhead equipment in challenging locations such as tunnels and bridges with restricted clearances. Battery power would also be used on a proposed street-running extension of the Cardiff Bay branch line to Flourish and potentially other proposed extensions in the Cardiff area.
Stadler will also supply 35 Flirt multiple-units. Of these, 11 will be diesel multiple-units for use on services to Maesteg, Ebbw Vale and Cheltenham. There will also be seven three-car and 17 four-car tri-mode units capable of running on diesel, 25 kV 50 Hz overhead electric and battery power. These are scheduled to enter service on cross-Cardiff routes from 2023, using diesel power on the Vale of Glamorgan, Barry and Penarth routes south of the city and electric power to Rhymney and Coryton lines to the north. The use of battery power will avoid the need for costly modifications to 55 bridges along the routes, particularly north of Caerphilly.
The Flirt trainsets will feature power sockets at every seat, air-conditioning and wide real-time passenger information screens. There will be space for up to six bikes, and level boarding to assist with prams and mobility scooters. Unlike the metro-style Citylink units, they will be fitted with toilets.
‘Stadler is very proud to have been chosen to supply this unique and innovative fleet of rolling stock’, said the company’s Sales Director Ralf Warwel on August 13. ‘The introduction of new rolling stock in South Wales will be appreciated by passengers not only because of the high levels of comfort but also thanks to the use of the latest battery power technology. This new technology, when rolled out nationwide, will bring the industry one step closer to being carbon neutral.’
Colin Lea, Mobilisation Director at incoming franchisee KeolisAmey, thanked Stadler for ‘working extremely hard with us to design trains which will enable the innovative South Wales Metro’, which he believes ‘will transform the passenger experience and enable 100% electric running on the valley lines north of Cardiff.’ He said power would be sourced from renewable energy, with 50% coming from within Wales. ‘These superb trains will help us cut journey times, provide far more capacity and will put Wales at the forefront of “smart electrification” technologies’, he said.