More Battery-Electric Trains Coming To Germany

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Swiss train manufacturer Stadler has received an order from 3 German regional railway operators for 44 electric trains. The purchase is being coordinated by DB Regio, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, which operates regional and commuter train services in Germany. The local rail authorities that will operate the trains are located in Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, and Baden-Württemberg.

The trains will be 55-meters long. The extra-long carriages will enable “the highest possible passenger capacity for the heavily frequented routes.” According to Electrive, a total of 325 passengers can be carried, including 172 in seats — 16 in first class and 156 in second class. According to the manufacturer, the two-part vehicles will go into passenger service on 8 Southern and Western Palatinate railway lines beginning in December 2025, replacing the diesel engines used on those routes today.

The new trains can draw power from overhead wires or from the onboard battery pack. Maximum range on batteries is at least 80 kilometers, although in testing, prototypes have been able to cover 180 kilometers without running out of battery power. The longest section of track with no overhead wires in the areas where the trains will operate is only 48 kilometers long. When electricity is supplied by overhead wires, it can power the train and recharge the batteries at the same time.

“We are already the most climate-friendly mobility company in Germany,” says Maik Dreser, the head of regional management for DB Regio. “And by 2040, we at Deutsche Bahn want to be climate neutral. Alternative drives and fuels are an essential part of achieving this goal. We are therefore absolutely delighted that the commissioning authorities responsible for the Palatinate network have opted for environmentally-friendly technology and that we will be able to put this technology into operation in the new transport contract.”

For Stadler, this is the second major order for the electric trains from Germany. In 2019, the Schleswig-Holstein local transport association ordered 55 units of its battery-powered trains. Stadler offers the Flirt model with either electric, diesel, or bi-modal drive, as well as a battery-electric version. There is even a hydrogen fuel cell option whose first customer is the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority in California. There are even battery-electric freight locomotives available in America these days.

Stadler is one of several manufacturers who offer battery-electric multi-unit trains. Alstom and Siemens are also supplying electric trains in world markets. Siemens has recently won a contract to supply 31 Mireo Plus B battery-electric trains that will go into regional service in the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan region beginning in December of 2024. You may even be able to take one when you visit the new Tesla factory in Grūnheide.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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