posted on 18th Feb 2023 08:31
On 17 February 2023 Norske tog announced that Stadler has been awarded the contract for 17 long-distance FLIRTs of the future Class 79. The contract, which resulted from the November 2021 tender, includes options, allowing up to 100 new trains to be acquired. Stadler won the contract based on a total assessment of quality and cost criteria. The 200 km/h eight-car units (the first of such length in Norway) with a total capacity of up to 542 seated passengers will be able to run on both electrified and non-electrified lines.
We asked Norske tog, if the first batch of 17 trains will be formed by the EMUs only, or if it will already include the dual-power version, similar to the Class 76 EDMU FLIRTs, if yes, how many of them, and how many EDMUs (or BEMUs) are expected to be procured in the whole batch of 100 new trains.
Norske tog answered us: "The primary delivery of this contract contains 17 trainsets of which either four or seven will be powered by bimodal propulsion (the final amount is pending the confirmation by the train operator). The bimodal trains will be EDMUs. However, the design allows for the diesel engine to be replaced by a more sustainable power source in the future when such technology has matured enough to fulfil the necessary requirements.
The contract has total scope of up to 100 new units, whereof the majority may be ordered by calling off various options. Unfortunately, at this point in the project we are not able to make any prognosis of how many of such optional trainsets are expected to be procured."
The production of the trains will start in 2024, and the first ones will be delivered for test runs in Norway from 2025. The start of passenger operation on the Bergen Line is scheduled from 2026, replacing old trains reaching their technical life expectancy.
Sille Svenkerud Førner, project manager at Norske tog, said: „The new train class, FLIRTNEX, will offer both reclining seats, flexible sleeping compartments, bistro, family areas, and lots of space for luggage. These are some of the facilities that travelers can look forward to, and which will contribute to making it the most attractive way of traveling in Norway. The train should not solely be a means of transportation, but also an experience in itself and a place you enjoy staying.“
The customer will enjoy accommodation options for sleeping, with both reclining seats, two-bed and four-bed sleeping compartments. During daytime, the sleeping compartments can be used as private seating groups for both families and business travelers. The reclining seats can be used both during the day and night. With the signing of the contract the design process is to start. Through a collaborative effort, Norske tog and Stadler will decide of final adaptions and adjustments before the trains go into production. Train operators and stakeholders will also be included in the process.
Listened To Customers’ Wishes
Customer surveys conducted by the Norwegian Railway Directorate in 2019 in connection with a study of the sleeper train service showed that the clearest thing that customers wished for was access to more comfortable seating at night, and more choice in terms of capacity and price.
As a result of this, and an extraordinary allocation of 80 million NOK from the Storting in 2020 in order to improve the sleeper train service, a total of 226 reclining seats were installed last year on trains that operate on the Nordland Line, the Dovre Line, the Bergen Line and the Sørlandet Line. In addition, a further 120 reclining seats are on order. Storting (Norwegian: Stortinget) is the supreme legislature of Norway, the unicameral parliament, located in Oslo.
Øystein Risan, CEO of Norske Tog, says: „This is a new way of travelling by train, with a level of comfort greater than what Norske Tog has provided to date. This provision has been very well received by passengers and operators alike, and we will take these experiences on board as we design our FLIRTNEX trains.“
Following the contract for new long-distance trains, a design process will start in which Norske Tog, the supplier and the train operators will make the final adaptations and adjustments before the trains are put into production. Øystein Risan adds: „In other words, it’s not possible to say exactly how many sleeping places will be on the new trains before the supplier is chosen and the design period is finished. Initially, we were talking about an increase from 600 berths across 20 sleeper carriages owned by Norske Tog in 2020, to 900 berths on board the new trains. But in principle, Norske Tog can purchase as many berths as the Storting wants to once we have signed a contract for new long-distance trains.“
Vy also has its own couchettes that are in use on the Bergen line, with a total of 288 berths available. These will most likely not be able to be used once the new long-distance trains are put into operation. In future, the need to redeem options in the procurement of long-distance trains can be assessed annually in order to give the Ministry of Transport a basis for decision-making in the state budget. The trains’ options and design possibilities provide great flexibility in terms of the ability to increase sleeping capacity in the years to come.
Norske tog is responsible for procuring, owning, and managing the rolling stock for passenger transport in Norway and is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications. In November 2021, Stadler delivered 150th FLIRT to Norske tog from the agreement signed (by NSB) on 16 August 2008, and at the time it was the largest deal of its kind in Norwegian rail history.