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WLB's Class TW500 In Passenger Service

posted on 10th Feb 2023 09:03

On 20 December 2018, WLB (Wiener Lokalbahnen) awarded Bombardier Transportation an order for 18 Type TW500 FLEXITY LRVs for Badner Bahn, the first of which entered service in late December 2022. The letters TW in the designation are an abbreviation for Triebwagen, i. e. a driving/powered car.

The trams in question, with a 1,435 mm gauge, were developed and built at the Wien works of Bombardier Transportation (Alstom since January 2021). The 94 million EUR contract also includes the provision of maintenance for 24 years (FlexCare maintenance management system), which will be the responsibility of the manufacturer, but the work will be carried out by WLB employees in the operator's workshops. In addition, there is an option for a further 16 vehicles and a further eight years of service.

The delivery schedule envisaged a trial run of two TW500s with passengers from the second half of 2021 and the first of these entering service in late 2021. However, this did not work out and the necessary type approval was not obtained until 22 December 2022. By that month, 12 new cars had been delivered.

The first set of two FLEXITIES started to carry passengers on 27 December 2022, after which the start of regular service was officially announced on Monday 9 January 2023. A second duo was added a day later, followed by a third one on 12 January. The whole batch of 18 TW500s is scheduled to start passenger service in the third quarter of 2023, replacing 26 TW100 trams built by SGP between 1979 and 1993, some of which, however, will be retained as a reserve. 

To date, Badner Bahn has been served by 40 trams, the latest of which is a batch of 14 TW400s designed and built by Bombardier Transportation between 2000 and 2010. The line is supplied with 600 V in the State Opera - Schedifkaplatz section, 750 V in the Schedifkaplatz - Inzersdorf section and 850 V DC in the Inzersdorf - Baden section.

The air conditioned TW500s have a Bo' 2' Bo' axle arrangement, a maximum speed of 80 km/h, a power output of 440 kW, a length of 27.82 m, a width of 2.5 m and a weight of 41.68 t (empty). The units are characterised by wheelchair accessibility, which WLB has consulted with representatives of disabled people's associations, and increased travel comfort. The transport capacity is 74 seated persons, i. e. four more than at the TW400 units and 11 more than at the TW100 units. The equipment includes the wifi, power sockets and USB chargers as well as a new electronic information system, CCTV and double-glazed windows to improve interior insulation during the summer and winter months.

Every working day, around 270,000 people travel to Wien from the neighbouring state of Lower Austria and 70,000 Viennese travel in the opposite direction. Around 40,000 of them use the 27 km long Badner Bahn local railway. Its route starts in the very centre of Wien on the Ringstraße in front of the State Opera House and then runs through several districts and transport hubs of the capital, across the metropolitan border and through several municipalities in the south-west to the 25,000-strong spa town of Baden. While in Wien the vehicles use the tram tracks, outside the urban area it is similar to rail traffic. On the busiest section of the Badner Bahn, between the Opera House and Wiener Neudorf, the line runs Monday to Saturday at an interval of 7.5 minutes.

In 2014, around 12 million passengers used Badner Bahn, making it the most popular regional railway in Austria. In 2019, 13.4 million passengers were carried, and after a drop due to covid, the number of passengers reached 12.6 million for 2022.

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