škoda 2024

FGC reveals details of new EMUs

posted on 31st Dec 2023 13:44

On 19 October 2021 the Executive Council of the Generalitat de Catalunya gave the green light for its rail operator, FGC, to take over in 2024 the service currently operated by Renfe between Manresa and Lleida, Line R12. Services will then be designated RL3 (Lleida to Cervera, with a more frequent Rodalies-style timetable) and RL4 (Cervera to Manresa, less frequent, serving a sparsely populated upland area north of Montserrat). At Manresa there will be connections with Renfe's Rodalies R4 service to Sabadell, Terrassa and Barcelona (this will eventually, together with the rest of the Rodalies network, be operated by the Generalitat, most probably by FGC).

Estimates by the Generalitat in 2018 indicated that by 2026 RL3 and RL4 would be used by over 450,000 passengers, a 55 % increase on 2018 ridership, but would need subsidisation of some 9 million EUR annually. Between Cervera and Lleida the six train pairs daily in 2018 would become 12 on weekdays, while between Cervera and Manresa there would be five train pairs, instead of the three in 2018. There would also be greater connectivity between train services and local bus services at intermediate stations. 

FGC then invited tenders for four new EMUs to operate the services on this route. The 65.2 million EUR contract (44 million EUR for construction and 21.2 million EUR for 15 years of maintenance) was won by Stadler. The other bidders were CAF and Alstom.

Stadler in mid-December 2023 was able to reveal details of these new three-car FLIRTs, the first of which wIll be ready for delivery during the fourth quarter of 2024, in readiness for services to start in late 2025. Maintenance will take place at  Pla de Vilanoveta depot, in Lleida, where FGC's Stadler-built Class 331 DMUs, used on the line to Pobla de Segur, are based. 

Of 1,668 mm gauge and equipped to operate off 3 kV DC, the new three-car FLIRT EMUs  are designed for a top service speed of 140 km/h, have a power rating of 2,400 kW, and can carry up to 439 passengers, 166 seated and 273 standees, at a density of four per m2. The trains are 67,600 mm long, 2,970 mm wide, and are 4,280 mm high above rail top. Floor height above rail top at the entrance doors is 780 mm, corresponding to platform height on the line. Each car has two pairs of entrance doors, situated at 1/3 and 2/3 of the bodyshell length. There are raised floor areas, accessed by short ramps, over the leading, trailing and the two articulated bogies.

The bodyshells are of lightweight extruded aluminium profiles, electricity consumption meters are installed, recuperative braking is possibe, and ETCS Level 2 and ASFA Digital ATP systems are installed. Interior illumination is by means of LEDs, with two wheelchair spaces provided near the entrance doors in the intermediate car, which also have retractable steps and wheelchair ramps. Seat units are cantilever-mounted, to facilitate floor cleaning. 

A PRM-accessible WC cubicle is provided, with an electrically-powered door. State-of-the-art CCTV, emergency intercoms and passenger information systems are installed, together with WiFi reception - all seats are provided with power sockets and USB charging ports. Space is also provided for prams, bikes and heavy luggage. The trains also have a remote diagnostics system, fire detection sensors, and on-board software and hardware have a high level of cyber-security protection.

Generalitat de Catalunya to take over Rodalies

The Rodalies (Cercanías) network in Catalunya is 1,119 km long, with 200 stations, and is used by 5.3 million passengters annually, i. e. 71% of the Catalan population. Passenger train services are currenly operated by Renfe, though since 2010 the Generalitat de Catalunya has independently managed timetabling and fares policies, while Adif is the infrastructure manager. 

In recent years the operation of services by Renfe has come under increased criticism, with delays and cancellations becoming commonplace. In 2022 alone there were 831 serious operating incidents were recorded, prompting the urgent need to press for separation of service operation and management from Renfe.

On account of the need for the currently governing party in Spain, PSOE to obtain majority support in parliament to guarantee the investiture of Pedro Sánchez as Prime Minister for a second term in power, thus avoiding a general election in 2024, the votes of seven ERC (the Catalan Separist Party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya)  MPs are necessary. On 2 November 2023 an agreement was reached between PSOE and ERC under which the Generalitat de Catalunya will become responsible for the operation of passenger services and infrastructure management on Renfe lines within the autonoumus region. This has been a long-term aim of ERC, supported by many frustrated train users in Catalunya. 

The agreement will see the transfer of train fleets and infrastructure to the Generalitat. This will be phased over time, to avoid disruption to services, used by around 400,000 people daily. A financial transfer of 132 million EUR will be made to the Generalitat to cover deficits incurred by Renfe during 2023. Afterwards, during the first quarter of each year the deficit incurred during the previous year will be calculated, and a further transfer will be made from central government.

A working party formed by members of MITMA and the Catalan Departament de Territori will be created, to evaluate what improvements are needed to be made to passenger services, and the timescale and costs for these. Seven routes in particular are to be addressed, one of which is R12 between Lleida and Manresa, where in the near future services are to be provided by FGC, using a fleet of four new FLIRT.  

A new company, Rodalies Catalunya, is to be created, separate from Renfe Viajeros. Not everyone is happy with the move - both the Sindicato Ferroviario and the Sindicato de Maquinistas (railway worker unions) have announced that they are planning industrial action, fearing that under the new management working conditions will not be improved. 

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