BATTERY TRAINS WINNING ALTERNATIVE TRACTION DEBATE
The first big operating contracts for fleets of battery EMUs (BEMUs) in Europe were awarded in the northern German state of Schleswig Holstein in February. From 2022-23 a fleet of 55 new Stadler-built Flirt BEMUs will operate services, representing 10.4 million train kilometres annually, on almost all non-electrified lines in the state, with trains operating as EMUs where there is catenary but as battery powered trains elsewhere. Recharging under the 15kV AC wires at terminus stations is also possible on some, but not all, of the routes, with the maximum distance away from the wires planned to be 140km per recharge, close to the advertised 150km battery range of the new trains.
The 12- or 13-year contracts were split into lots and, to the surprise of both operators and transport authority nah.sh, shared three ways; Osthannoversche Eisenbahnen (OHE, part of the Trenitalia-owned Netinera group), RDC Autozug Sylt (the Schleswig Holstein based subsidiary of American company Railroad Development Corporation) and NBE Nordbahn (owned partly by BeNEX with Hamburg area local authority owned rail operator AKN) each won one concession contract. Whilst NBE Nordbahn has retained operation of lines it currently operates with DMUs, the other winners have both replaced DB Regio.