EUROPE: Seven transport operators and the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) announced on November 8 that they had formed a group to place joint orders for tram-train vehicles.

VDV TramTrain includes Karlsruhe transport operators VBK and AVG, Saarbahn Netz, Kasseler Verkehrs Gesellschaft, Erms-Neckar-Bahn, Regionaltangente West from Germany, as well as Schiene Oberösterreich from Austria. It is led by AVG’s Thorsten Erlenkötter.

Current plans envisage a framework order for up to 300 tram-train cars, with around 180 of these going to AVG and VBK. VDV TramTrain is aiming to invite tenders in late 2018, with delivery of up to four prototype vehicles three years later. Deliveries of series-built vehicles could begin in early 2024.

Noting that the current prices for small batches of multi-system vehicles is making tram-train operation uncompetitive compared with the price of heavy rail vehicles, the partners have been discussing since 2009 how to achieve a more economical approach.

VDV TramTrain will now prepare specifications for the dual-system rolling stock. To overcome variations in infrastructure, such as different platform heights, between the participating cities, the intention is to specify a uniform bodyshell and traction system, which could then be customised for each city. This would entail only one authorisation process for all seven operators. Other advantages of a joint procurement include an estimated cost saving of €1m per vehicle, and joint orders for spare parts.

Further aims are to secure the future of the so-called Karlsruhe Model and making it attractive for other cities. Transport operators that would like to introduce tram-trains could join VDV TramTrain in the future.