CRRC Zhuzhou is bulding four six-car double-deck EMUs for use by Westbahn GmbH in Austria.

AUSTRIA: The first of four double-deck electric multiple-units being built for use in Europe has been rolled out for testing by CRRC Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co in China’s Hunan province.


The first EMU was unveiled in China on May 31.

Developed under Project DDEMU2, the six-car 200 km/h trainsets are due to be leased to Austrian open access operator Westbahn under a contract signed in December 2019. Formed of two motored vehicles and four trailers, the units are equipped to operate on 15 kV 16·7 Hz and 25 kV 50 Hz traction supplies.


Testing and certification of the Chinese-built EMUs is to be completed by mid-2023.

CRRC Zhuzhou says its first TSI-compliant double-deck EMUs are designed to operate in Austria and five other European countries. The first train was unveiled at a ceremony on May 31, which was attended remotely by CRRC President Sun Yongcai in Beijing and by Westbahn CEO Erich Forster and Chinese Ambassador Li Xiaosi by video link from Wien.


Each six-car unit has seats for 571 passengers.

Commenting that the CRRC trainsets offered technological innovation and high-quality experience, Forster said he ‘can’t wait to welcome then to Europe’, adding that he looked forward to ‘a friendly and partnership-based relationship’ with the manufacturer.

CRRC Zhuzhou had bid in 2019 to supply a complete fleet of trains to Westbahn, which was replacing its original fleet 17 of Stadler Kiss 1 and 2 trainsets that had been sold to DB Fernverkehr to work inter-city services in Germany. However, Westbahn decided to order 15 six-car Kiss 3 double-deck EMUs from Stadler under a €300m contract which includes maintenance, funded by Austrian Train Finance. The first of these 15 kV 16·7 Hz units is expected to be delivered shortly.


Having placed the order with Stadler, the Austrian open access operator subsequently decided to lease a further four double-deck trainsets from the Chinese manufacturer, which would potentially allow it to expand beyond its core Wien – Linz – Salzburg corridor. Westbahn told Railway Gazette it expected to achieve certification for the Chinese-built trains in mid to late 2023.


Lightweight bodies

According to CRRC, the lightweight aluminium bodyshells incorporate composite materials including high-strength carbon fibre and glass carbon fibre elements, meaning that the weight is only about 10% more than a single-deck vehicle. To save space, a 1 400 mm wide single-leaf doorway is provided at each end of the vehicles to facilitate rapid boarding and alighting.


Automated snack and coffee vending machines are provided in the catering areas.

Equipped with first and second class seating, each six-car set will accommodate 571 passengers, and two units will be able to operate in multiple. Onboard facilities include vending machines and coffee machines, in the bar area, wheelchair spaces and bicycle storage zone. The intelligent onboard wi-fi network supports both passenger entertainment and real-time condition monitoring systems, as well as access to the ticket sales and seat reservation network.


CRRC Zhuzhou has already built three five-car Sirus single-deck EMUs for Czech operator Leo Express under a deal which includes options for up to 30 more, although delivery and testing has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. These dual-system units for 25 kV 50 Hz and 3 kV DC operation are intended to work services linking the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. The first began test running in 2019 ahead of certification under the ERA unified vehicle authorisation regime, but the trains are not now expected to enter revenue service before 2022 at the earliest.