A consortium of six German and Austrian transport bodies has jointly awarded Stadler a framework contract for the supply and maintenance of up 504 tram-trains

EUROPE: A consortium of six German and Austrian transport bodies has awarded Stadler a framework contract for the supply and maintenance of up 504 tram-trains worth €4bn, the largest contract in the Swiss company’s history.

The VDV TramTrain framework contract was awarded on January 14 by Karlsruhe’s VBK and AVG, Saarbrücken’s Saarbahn Netz, Schiene Oberösterreich, the Land of Salzburg and Zweckverband Regional-Stadtbahn Neckar-Alb.

It includes a €1·7bn firm order for the supply of 246 Citylink tram-trains over 10 years from 2024, and the provision of 16 years of maintenance. There are options to order up to 258 more vehicles and to extend the maintenance to 32 years.

Tram-train framework contract
Operator Firm order Delivery from Options
AVG 75 2025 73
Neckar-Alb 30 2027 57
Saarbahn 28 July 2024 21
Salzburg 20 2026 5
Schiene Oberösterreich 20 2026 50
VBK 73 2026 52
Total 246 - 258

Keeping the price down

The operators developed the concept of a large joint procurement in order to keep the price of tram-trains competitive with pure railway vehicles, which are technically easier to implement and therefore cheaper. Benefits are expected to include a lower unit cost, and simplified approvals processes.

Dr Alexander Pischon, CEO of VBK and AVG, said ‘we have achieved this goal: a great step for the future of local transport. On average, we can save 20% of the costs per vehicle by ordering together.’

Salzburg’s Councillor for Transport Stefan Schnöll said the goal was to obtain ‘the most modern vehicles for modern public transport’ on the Salzburger Lokalbahn, and the joint order would save up to €1m per vehicle.

Baden-Württemberg’s Land -owned rolling stock body SFBW will finance the vehicles for lease to AVG and the future operator of Stadtbahn Neckar-Alb services, using its high creditworthiness to secure attractive financial terms.


‘We spent hours developing a common set of specifications’, said Thorsten Erlenkötter, Project Manager at VBK which is leading the project. ‘We defined a standard with up to five further versions to meet the operator-specific requirements such as boarding height, paintwork and place of use. You can compare the project to a grafted fruit tree bearing different varieties of the same fruit. There is only one stem but different tastes and harvest times’, he added.

All of the vehicles will have three sections, air-conditioning and multi-purpose areas with two wheelchair spaces. However, the length, number of doors, boarding height and coupler height will vary to suit each customer’s needs.

Customisation will included a toilet and cycle racks on the vehicles for AVG, and luggage racks on the cars for Schiene Oberösterreich.

The Citylink is developed and manufactured at Stadler’s Valencia plant. The company told Metro Report International that production for the latest order would depend on customer call-offs and capacities, as well as other projects which are underway, but would be undertaken within the group.

The manufacturer said its Citylink is a proven design, with more than 650 now sold in six countries. ‘The construction of a tram-train requires experience, and this particular tender also necessitates the ability to combine individual solutions with standard products’, said Stadler Chairman Peter Spuhler. ‘Stadler has always been at home in both areas and is a pioneer in the industry.’

The first four pre-series vehicles will be delivered to Saarbahn in 2024, with 24 more to follow by 2027 at cost of €140m. Saarbahn has options to order 21 more to support network extensions.

VBK Technical Director Christian Höglmeier said the a procurement concept was ‘unique worldwide to date’, with the six operators ‘united by their belief in the concept of tram-trains that can link large cities with their surrounding regions according to the “Karlsruhe model” and that can bring people directly into the centre quickly without having to change trains.’

Schiene Oberösterreich has ordered 20 tram-trains for delivery from 2026, to strengthen the fleet and replace old vehicles on the Land’s local railways. There is an option for a further 50 tram trains for the local railway network which is planned to serve the Linz area from the end of the 2020s.

Managing Director Herbert Kubasta said ‘the tram-train project required a cross-border effort from all partners. However, the high quantities achieved as a result, the high degree of standardisation and the long-term availability bring cost advantages to all those involved over a long period of time and access to the most modern generation of multi-system vehicles in Europe.’