posted on 22nd Aug 2023 01:11
On 21 August 2023 Alstom and the Central Saxony transport authority VMS (Verkehrsverbund Mittelsachsen) presented in Chemnitz the first battery-powered train developed by Alstom: the Class 1440.4 Coradia Continental BEMU. Eleven of them have been ordered by VMS and will enter service in 2024 on the 80 km long RE 6 Chemnitz - Leipzig line. Initially it was envisaged that the BEMUs will enter service in December 2023 - see here. The reason for delay is stated "delivery problems for some components (battery) due to COVID-19."
The BEMUs are scheduled to be delivered gradually from June 2024, followed by personel training runs etc. In autumn they should be workig according to the 2024 timetable, and until start of the 2025 timetable in December they will replace the old diesel trains. The authorisation of the Class 1440.4 is still in the process, so the units are still owned by Alstom.
The 160 km/h three-car trains are 56 m long and have a working range of up to 120 km in battery mode, in which they will also achieve a maximum speed of 160 km/h. The capacity of the high-performance lithium-ion batteries is calculated to guarantee catenary-free operation on the Chemnitz - Leipzig line without sacrificing performance or passenger comfort. Each of the units has seat 150 seats, but usually the Coradias will operate in double traction with a total of 300 seats.
They differ from the Coradia Continental EMUs already in service on electrified lines (RE 3 Dresden - Chemnitz - Hof, RB 30 Dresden - Zwickau and RB 45 Chemnitz - Elsterwerda) only by the batteries on the roof. Eleven units are being procured by VMS GmbH and leased to the operator Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn - Transdev. The vehicles are financed by the VMS and the Zweckverband für den Nahverkehrsraum Leipzig (ZVNL). Procurement and financing are the responsibility of the local authorities. Contract value is around 70 million EUR. Alstom‘s Salzgitter and Mannheim sites are involved in the production of the trains. The battery traction equipment was designed and supplied by the Tarbes site.
For the recharging of the BEMUs in Chemnitz, the VMS has electrified the track at platform 5 in Chemnitz main station. This was done with funding from Freistaat Sachsen (the Free State of Saxony). In off-peak times, the trains will also run as RB 80 to Annaberg-Buchholz. For recharging there, a 50 Hz recharging station was developed iand installed by a consortium of DB Energie, DB Regionetz Infrastruktur, F&S Prozessautomation, Rail Power Systems, Smart Rail Connectivity Campus, TU Dresden and VMS.
The Chemnitz - Leipzig line is in need of modernisation. Large sections are single-track, there are no crossing stations and the line is not electrified. At present, diesel locomotive-hauled trains formed by coaches from GDR production run there. At the same time, the line is by far the most important regional connection from Chemnitz to long-distance services in Leipzig. Uprgade and electrification are being planned. According to Transdev, 200,000 passengers used the line in June 2023 alone.