In North Germany, the Schleswig-Holstein public transport association has commissioned the Swiss rail manufacturer Stadler to supply 55 battery-electric trains. The Stadler Flirt Akku units will replace 55 diesel trains in the coastal German state from December 2022.
Schleswig-Holstein has an above-average number of diesel trains in operation because only 29 per cent of the rail network has been electrified. Aside from the main lines, overhead electric lines are scarce and this is exactly where Stadler’s solution comes in.
The ‘Flirt Akku’ is a passenger trainset with batteries mounted on the roof that give the train a range of up to 150 kilometres. On the main lines, the trains will be charged on existing overhead lines and additional charging devices are to be built at specific points, as well as existing overhead lines being extended.
The battery-electric Flirt Akku model was only introduced by Stadler in October 2018. The electric train is designed for non-electrified or partially electrified lines. In purely battery-powered driving mode, the maximum speed is 140 km/h, which is of course at the expense of the range on longer stretches. The Swiss company’s German subsidiary, Stadler Pankow, is based in Berlin and is managing the contract.
A special feature of this order is that in future the manufacturer will be responsible for the maintenance of the railcars for more than 30 years. Stadler plans to set up workshops in the local cities of Rendsburg and Neumünster for this purpose. However, the decision to award the tender is not yet final, since the losing bidders still have ten days to initiate a review procedure for the decision.
Alstom, specializing in hydrogen-powered trains, brought a case against the German state’s award criteria for this tender, but the claim was dismissed by the Higher Regional Court of Schleswig. Alstom has been operating a hydrogen-powered rail line in the region since autumn 2018, between Buxtehude, Bremerhaven, and Cuxhaven. If Alstom’s claim had won in court, the state would have had to change the award criteria. Alstom ended up not submitting a bid for this tender at all since it not only specified the provision of emission-free trains from the suppliers but necessary charging infrastructure as well.