NETHERLANDS: Harry Hondius MSc rides the first of NS Reizigers' new-generation of Sprinter EMUs, which are due to enter service between Den Haag and Utrecht this year.

Dutch train operator NS Reizigers will shortly take delivery of the first of 99 Sprinter EMUs which will form the next generation of rolling stock for suburban stopping trains in the Randstad region. Orders have been placed for 494 cars so far, in a mix of four-car and six-car units, but with options the fleet could ultimately reach 835 vehicles.

The first order was placed in July 2005 for 18 four-car and 17 six-car sets worth a total of €248m (RG 9.05 p541). They are being supplied by a consortium of Bombardier Transportation (leader) and Siemens, whose shares of the initial order amount to €104m and €144m respectively. A further 32 sets of each type were ordered on September 21 2007, under a deal worth €163m for Bombardier and €237m for Siemens. This brings the total to 50 four-car sets designated Class 2400 and 49 of the longer Class 2600 sets, to be delivered by November 2010.

These orders were placed following a European tendering procedure based on a functional specification. This was the first time since the start of 1·5 kV DC electrification in 1924 that NS did not largely engineer the EMUs itself. The last NS-engineered trains will be a final build of 50 VIRM-double-deck EMUs from Bombardier and Alstom, fitted with RMO-Stork Flexy-bogies built under licence, which are due to start rolling out of Bombardier's Aachen works in June.

Conceptually, the new Sprinter is based on Deutche Bahn's ET425 regional EMU, of which Bombardier and Siemens have delivered 236 four-car sets since 1999. NSR wanted a 'proven design', but the Sprinter has been customised heavily to meet the Dutch requirements. A major change has resulted from the adoption of crashworthiness norm EN 15227, collision scenario 3m, to meet the TSI for conventional railways. Not only did this require a reinforced front end, but also strengthened car bodies. The windows and door positions are also different.

The trains are the first NS multiple-units since 1937 to be built without toilets - apart from a batch of 30 old-generation Sprinters dating from 1975-80, and for the same reason. NSR regards the Sprinter as a 'super-metro' trainset, and given the short average journey length it felt that the space taken up, loss of a clear passage through the train and the cost, by far outweighed the advantages of providing toilets. The trains are being built to very high fire-protection standards, which will be a combination of UIC 564-2, EN 5510, level 3 and the French standard NF F16-101.

As leader of the consortium, Bombardier is responsible for the vehicle engineering, and builds the bodies for the four-car units in Hennigsdorf, although the trains are finally assembled in Aachen. Bombardier is supplying the two static converters and a new generation of train control and communication system, known as Mitrac CC. This provides complete train management, fault diagnosis and track-to-train communication systems using GPRS technology. The passenger information system has been designed in detail by NS and Bombardier jointly and will provide a high degree of flexibility.

Siemens is building the six-car units in Uerdingen, and is supplying all the bogies from Graz. The Sitrac traction control, the two Sibac Compact inverters per train and the six or eight water-cooled traction motors per unit are coming from Siemens' Nürnberg plant.

Bombardier-built trains 2401 and 2402 were initially tested at the 4·5 km Velten test track, along with Siemens set 2602, while 2601 will go to Wildenrath. Three of the four pre-series sets are expected to continue type-testing and commissioning in the Netherlands while series production gets underway at both Hennigsdorf and Uerdingen.

Technical variations

The bogies and gearing are largely derived from the ET425. However, the wheelbase of the Sprinter bogies has been lengthened by 100 mm to improve the riding qualities. The end motor bogies have a wheelbase of 2 300 mm and the intermediate articulation bogies are 2 800 mm. Siemens has also improved the suspension qualities of the primary springs.

Here the motor is suspended from the bogie frame, and drives via a toothed coupling to a half-suspended Flender gearbox, which is supported from the frame on one side and rests directly on the axle - unlike the arrangement adopted for DB's new ET 422 units (RG 2.08 p80).

The windows are double-glazed, and Hübner double folding bellows are used between the vehicles. The Sprinters have roof-mounted Liebherr air-conditioning units similar to those of the ET425, but with increased cooling and heating capacity. The braking resistances are also roof-mounted, but most of the traction equipment is placed under the floors of the end cars. The static inverters are installed below centre cars C and D. Floor height is 800 mm above the rail

The sets are equipped with Bombardier's ATB-EG automatic train protection system, and designed to take the new ATB++ system which will providing ATP below 40 km/h and could be upgraded to ETCS standards. Cars C or D are designed to accommodate a 25 kV 50 Hz transformer or a 3 kV down-chopper, but no concrete steps have been taken as two-system operation is not envisaged for the foreseeable future. As with the VIRMs, the cost of equipping the sets to accept 25 kV was considered to be very high without any real likelihood that the Dutch system would be re-electrified at a higher voltage. Trains of up to 16 cars can operate in multiple, formed of four Class 2400 or two 2600 and one 2400.

The dynamic braking is primarily regenerative, but brake resistors are fitted for use in the event of a lack of receptivity in the overhead line. Electro-pneumatic brakes are blended in below 15 km/h, or at higher speeds if the required deceleration rate is not being achieved. Each bogie is assigned its own electro-pneumatic compact control system, and the air compressor is oil-free. All wheels are braked, and the end bogies are fitted with spring-applied parking brakes.

No sanding equipment or flange lubrication is envisaged, as Bombardier believes that the braking system meets the specified demands under adhesion conditions required for TSI certification. However, two magnetic track brakes are fitted on the central articulation bogie, and can be lowered pneumatically into place as required. These would be used more for cleaning the railhead than for their braking ability. Discussions with IVW will determine whether all non-driven articulation bogies (two for the 2400 and three for the 2600) should be equipped with track brakes. Bombardier has selected Lloyds Register Rail as the Notified Body for the processes required to achieve IVW approval in the Netherlands.

The new Sprinter will meet the European TSI Noise standards. The author measured an interior noise level of between 62 and 65 dB(A) when running at 105 km/h. In the cab, the level was just 51 dB(A) when accelerating, but without the ventilation running. The electric motors are quite noticeable when starting and the static converters are not silent.

Overall, the new trains are extremely good looking, and should be well received by passengers. The first sets are due to enter service on stopping trains between Den Haag and Utrecht in the autumn.

  • CAPTION: Four-car Sprinter 2401 at Hennigsdorf
  • CAPTION: The cab layout is very spacious
  • CAPTION: The Sprinters are being delivered in four and six-car formations
  • CAPTION: Two of the three articulation bogies are powered
  • CAPTION: The warm interior colour scheme is likely to be welcomed by passengers, but there are no toilet facilities on board Photo: Harrie Peters

Main technical data for NS Sprinters

Class 2400 Class 2600
Length over body m 68·9 100·1
Width mm 2840 2840
Axles Bo'(2)'(2)'Bo'Bo' Bo'(Bo')(2)'(2)'(2)'(Bo)'Bo'
Power kW 6 x 250 8 x 250
Power kW/tonne 11·62 11·36
Doors per side mm 6 x 1300 10 x 1300
Door height mm 2200 2200
Weight empty tonnes 129 176
Weight kg/m² 663 619
Seats, first class 40 56
Seats, second class 144 208
Average price 25975 €/m², including spares for 10 years