An extensive programme of testing and commissioning will soon begin on one of the two Stadler- built trains, which made maiden voyages into Canton depot, Cardiff a fortnight ago. The testing stage will be undertaken entirely on the Wales & Borders network, paving the way for trains to be handed over to the client and enter commercial service.
Testing and commissioning is about to kick off on one of the two FLIRT to arrive in Cardiff, following their arrival at Canton depot almost two weeks ago. The trains form part of the 35-strong fleet of trains that Stadler is manufacturing and delivering for Transport for Wales. Canton depot will become the home to these trains.
Extensive testing will now take place to ensure that they are ready for passenger service, in a process known as ‘testing and commissioning’. This stage will see the train tested under realistic driving conditions, on the tracks that they will operate on, to verify that they meet the relevant safety standards and regulations. Every aspect of the train, from their on-board features to energy consumption trials, noise levels and signalling, will be scrutinised rigorously.
The FLIRTs will run on the South Wales Metro services. Eleven of the 35 will be diesel-operated, and the other 24 units will be tri-mode, capable of running on diesel, overhead electric wires and battery power. The tri-mode fleet consists of seven three-car and 17 four-car trains.
Trains will be longer and have more seats, which have been ergonomically designed to maximise passenger comfort. Each seat will be fitted with power sockets. There will be air-conditioning throughout, and wide passenger information screens, displaying up-to-the-minute travel information. Noise and vibrations will be kept to a minimum, with the new trains quieter than the current ones. There will be space for up to six bikes on each train and level-boarding to assist wheelchair users, people with limited mobility, or with scooters, bikes, push-chairs or luggage.
Sandro Muster, project manager for Stadler, commented:
“The arrival of the first unit in Cardiff less than two weeks ago and the start of the testing phase is very exciting for everyone involved in the project. Not only Stadler, but our client, Transport for Wales, and above all, the people who will soon be travelling on them. Passengers will notice a massive difference in the ride quality, the comfort, the special features and fittings, and attention to detail.“
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, added:
“The arrival of these brand-new trains is another major milestone for TfW and signifies another step forward on our transformational programme to deliver a transport network that the people of Wales can be proud of.
“We’re investing £800 million into new trains that will provide more capacity on our network, they will have more and improved seating, provide air conditioning, power sockets and passenger information screens with up-to-the- minute travel information. The customer is at the heart of our planning at TfW and these trains will have more space for bikes, people with limited mobility and pushchairs.
“People will now start to see some of our new trains being tested on our network and we’re looking forward to seeing the first new units enter service for customers next year.”
Stadler’s contract with Transport for Wales Rail Ltd, signed in 2019, is for a total of 71 trains. The other 36, are three-car CITYLINK tram-trains, which will operate from Cardiff to Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil, bringing back on-street running to Cardiff for the first time in 70 years. They will rely on 25 kV as well as battery power, underscoring Stadler’s commitment to decarbonisation and supporting the rail industry to reduce its carbon footprint. These vehicles are at the type-testing stage.