New Transport For Wales Flirt trains & trams at Innotrans

Innotrans, the world’s largest transport trade show took place again last week, At the Messe Berlin exhibition centre, for the first time since 2018. Usually held biannually, it was cancelled twice due to Covid.
The 4 day event sees over 140,000 transport industry visitors from 140 countries, and almost 3000 trade stalls.
Amongst those with a large presence at the show was Stadler Rail, the Swiss manufacturer. They are currently building new rolling stock for Merseyrail (also on display at last year’s Rail Live) and Transport for Wales.

Stadler have a large order for Transport for Wales. The operator is making a multi million pound investment in transforming public transport across Wales, with £800 million being spent on new rolling stock. The new Stadler units are destined for the South Wales Metro. The two on display were the Stadler Flirt and the Citylink Class 398 Tram-Train.

The Flirt (Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train) is a proven and successful design that is already used in eighteen countries, including the UK. Since 2019 Greater Anglia have introduced 58 Flirts into service, as class 755 Bi Mode and 745 electric units.
The Transport for Wales order includes 24 tri-mode Flirts, capable of running on electrified lines as well as with battery power and diesel. The batteries enable a fully electric service north of Cardiff, known as “smart electrification”. Seven three-car and 17 four-car trains will make up the tri-mode fleet, and the remaining 11 FLIRTs will be diesel-operated.

The diesel engines and generators are positioned in a powerpack in the centre of the train, which is separate from the passenger area, in order to reduce the noise and vibration that passengers will be familiar with in more conventional DMU’s with under floor engines. They comply with emission legislation Euro Stage V, keeping emissions to a minimum. The Flirts are designed so that the power pack units are modular and can be exchanged for battery or electric traction as and when infrastructure develops.

The other units on display destined for Wales were the Stadler Citylink Class 398 Tram-Trains. These 36 Bi mode electric and battery powered trams will be used on both tram and mainline lines, with the battery pack being a new addition to these units, allowing it to be used on non-electrified lines. Although it won’t be the first battery powered tram in the UK – that distinction is held by the West Midlands Metro, who run their Bi mode trams through Centenary Square without overhead wires.
The Citylink tram was already a proven design of the Spanish company Vossloh, who were taken over by Stadler in 2015. Over 50 have already been sold, to 6 different countries, including 7 units to the Sheffield Supertram network.

The trams will be operating on the Merthyr and Rhondda lines as well as the Cardiff City Line, with the battery power option allowing them to operate on the Butetown branch line. The battery power will also be used as part of the discontinuous electrification scheme that is being installed for the South Wales Metro, as sections under bridges and through tunnels will not be electrified, with the battery mode being used in these areas.
The Flirt and Citylink are expected to enter service in 2024.

Here’s a short YouTube film about them

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