GERMANY: Developed from a design for Sweden, the Coradia Lirex Continental EMU is designed for adaptability in terms of floor height, extra doors and energy absorption. Harry Hondius rides the first four-car set.

Destined to operate regional services around Augsburg, the first four-car Coradia Lirex Continental EMU for DB Regio was unveiled by Alstom LHB at its Saltzgitter plant on March 5. The design is a development of the Coradia Nordic family of articulated trainsets now being supplied to Swedish transport authorities, reworked to fit the standard European loading gauge.

The Coradia Nordic family has its origins in the 55 six-car X60 EMUs ordered by Storstockholms Lokaltrafik in 2002 (RG 9.03 p545). Delivery of these sets began in 2005, and an additional 16 trains were subsequently ordered, with the last to be delivered shortly. Feedback indicates that the trains have proved a success on suburban services around the Swedish capital, and SL still has an option for a further 34 sets.

At the end of 2005, Alstom won a €240m order from Skånetrafiken for 49 four-car X61 EMUs to work regional services in southern Sweden, with an option for a further 59. To be operated by Arriva under the Pågetåg concession (RG 10.07 p625), the 160 km/h X61 is not simply a shorter version of the X60. Significant design changes were required, as the entrance and floor heights of 610 mm and 670 mm are lower than the 760 mm and 790 mm of the X60. The floor heights through the articulations and above the end bogies remain at 850 and 1 060 mm respectively.

Delivery of the Skåne X61s is due to start in 2009. Meanwhile, in March Östgötrafiken placed a €27·5m order for five more units, which will be deployed on routes in Östergötland from 2010. This contract includes an option for a further 10 sets.

Coradia Lirex Continental

Following the success of the Nordic version, Alstom LHB decided to adapt the X60 design for a wider customer base, creating the modular Coradia Lirex Continental family. This is primarily intended for customers in Germany and other European countries which do not benefit from Sweden's generous loading gauge. Changes from the Scandinavian design include a reduction in the overall width from 3 250 mm to 2 920 mm, with straighter bodysides to meet the UIC505-1 profile.

The first customer for the revised version was DB Regio, which has ordered 79 EMUs for delivery in 2008-10:

  • 37 four-car ET 440.0 sets for Augsburg regional services and the München - Augsburg - Ulm route;
  • Six five-car ET 440.0 sets for the München - Passau line, with more comfortable interiors to reflect the longer distances.
  • 11 four-car ET 440.2 units, of which five are destined for the Würzburg region and six for München - Passau services.
  • 22 three-car ET 440.3 sets for services around Würzburg, and three more for Nürnberg.

All trainsets will be equipped with wheelchair-accessible toilets, with two per set for the three and four-car EMUs and three in the longer trains for the Passau route. The average cost of the units works out at around 20 700 €/m².

The first five ET 440.0 units for the Augsburg area have been completed, and will be thoroughly tested before the EBA grants approval for them to operate on the German rail network. One set is being sent to the Velim test track in the Czech Republic.

On the driving vehicles of the four-and five-car trains, each group of four liquid-cooled three-phase traction motors is fed from a roof-mounted ONIX 253SRD inverter. ABB Sécheron transformers are mounted on the roof. One driving car of the three-car sets also has this arrangement, but the other end car has two motors in the leading bogie and a correspondingly smaller inverter pack. All trains have two roof-mounted auxiliary inverters and battery sets, and a single pantograph supplied by Schunk.

Main service braking is by regeneration into the 15 kV 16·7 Hz overhead line. All wheelsets are fitted with Knorr-Bremse electro-pneumatic brakes, whilst the powered bogies have additional spring-loaded brakes. The leading bogies at each end of the sets have electro­magnetic brakes rated at 42 kN per shoe, sanders and flange lubricators.

With eight powered axles in the four and five-car units, and six in the three-car sets, the trains should benefit from good adhesion. Up to three units can be run in multiple. My first impression from the short test run is that the electronics and gears seem very quiet.


DB seems to be taking a fairly relaxed attitude towards implementation of the EN 15227 standards covering the crashworthiness of vehicle bodies (RG 3.08 p187). This norm was due to have come into force from July 1 2007, but was postponed until July 1 this year. This means that the four-year transition period will also begin one year later, and so German train operators can continue to order rolling stock to existing designs until 2012. This is in contrast to the Netherlands, where IVW demanded full application of prEN 15227 from 2005 onwards, impacting on the design of Sprinter, GTW and Protos multiple-units.

DB's ET 422 S-Bahn EMUs being supplied by a consortium of Bombardier and Alstom were developed to meet EN 15227 (RG 2.08 p80), as were the X60 and X61 EMUs. The Coradia Lirex Continental design can be adapted to meet the requirements with the addition of a 1·3 m longer nose to accommodate energy-absorbing modules. However, some platforms in Bayern are a bit on the short side, so DB has opted for the shorter nose of the current non-compliant design.


Like Siemens' Desiro Mainline (RG 8.06 p446) and Bombardier's forthcoming Talent II, Alstom has tried to develop a vehicle design which can be easily adapted at reasonable cost to meet future requirements for operation on routes with different platform heights and access requirements.

Coradia Lirex Continental can in principle serve two platform heights: 550 mm or 760 mm. With a floor height of 730 mm, ramping down to 610 mm at the doorway allows access from a 550 mm platform, whilst a slight ramp up will match the 760 mm platforms.

Another way to adapt trains for changing conditions after they have been in service for a number of years might be to change the number of doors. The ET 440 units have one door per car side, but are designed to have a second fitted if this becomes desirable in future. The cabling is already installed, and the side panels could be cut out and replaced with a door module.

Alstom LHB now has firm orders for 125 Coradia Nordic and 79 Coradia Lirex Continental trains to be delivered by the end of 2010. Alstom will no doubt be actively seeking to sell these trains elsewhere in northern Europe, as a competitor to the Stadler Flirt, the Desiro Mainline and the Talent II.

  • CAPTION: Two of the first ET 440.0 units on the test track at Alstom LHB's Salzgitter plant.
  • Fig 1. The four-car Class ET 440.0 units are destined to operate regional around Augsburg. The three-car and five-car units will have a similar layout
  • The body is designed to accommodate energy-absorbing elements, but these would require a longer nose which is not being fitted on the DB Regio fleet.
  • Motored articulation bogie, showing the semi-suspended transmission which has a 1:5·55 gear ratio.
  • Left: Interior view of the driving cab.Right: Car B is fitted with a wheelchair-accessible toilet module; note the ramp to connect the 730 mm high floor with the 660 mm entrance.
  • Below: View through the train; there are no equipment cabinets in the saloon area.
  • This sidewall panel can be removed and replaced by a second door module if required.

Principal suppliers

Carbody and bogies Alstom LHB
Transformers ABB Sécheron
Traction motors Alstom, Ornans
Gears Voith
Electronic control Alstom, Villeurbanne
Traction inverters Alstom, Charleroi
Static inverters Alstom, Charleroi
Air-conditioning Faiveley, Leipzig

Alstom LHB GmbH

The factory in Salzgitter is Alstom Transport's largest production facility, employing 2 450 people. It is the company's competence centre for regional and double-deck trains, and along with Le Creusot, a centre for bogies. The 1·2 million m² site has 200 000 m² of buildings, and a 1·4 km test track which can be fed at voltages from 750 V DC to 25 kV 50 Hz.

The main product platforms produced at Salzgitter are the RegioCitadis and Coradia Lirex, Continental, Nordic and LINT families. In a typical year between 50% and 75% of the plant's products are exported.

Turnover in 2006-07 was €597m and orders received amounted to €695m, bringing the backlog to €1·1bn. Research and development spending totalled €35m.