Following the approval of the supervisory board of Berlin’s transport operator, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) on 29th June 2009, a contract for 99 BOMBARDIER FLEXITY Berlin trams has now been signed between the BVG and Bombardier Transportation. The order is valued at around 300 million euros ($431 million US). The order follows a framework agreement in 2006 for a maximum of 210 vehicles and includes 40 long and 24 short one-way vehicles as well as 35 short bidirectional vehicles trams.
The first vehicles will be delivered in May 2011, with an expected completion date for all vehicles in 2017. This will coincide with the deployment of the GT6 series vehicles and the phasing-out of the Tatra high-floor vehicles. The FLEXITY Berlin trams will be well prepared for future applications and will be 100% barrier-free.
Andreas Sturmowski, Chairman of the Management Board of the BVG, commented: "The delivery of the vehicles will commence in May 2011 with the long vehicles intended for lines M4 and M8. All other new vehicles will predominantly be used on all tram lines and Line 50. A further anticipated 33 vehicles, whose structure type is still to be determined with the state of Berlin, will ensure the complete replacement of the 237 Tatra vehicles still currently in use. This will result in lower operating costs and will further enhance the attractiveness of trams as a form of transportation for our passengers. We would especially like to thank the state of Berlin for assuming the financing defined within the framework of the transportation agreement."
"Berliners can look forward to more attractive, environmentally-friendly, modern and new trams. All trams will be barrier-free by 2017 thanks to these vehicles. The BVG has succeeded in responding to customer requirements while making urban transit even more appealing. In times where we have to meet the challenges of demographic changes, improvements such as the absence of barriers in passenger transportation are an important element in increasing Berlin's attractiveness overall," said Ingeborg Junge-Reyer, Senator for Urban Development.
The new trams will be produced at the following Bombardier sites in Germany: Bautzen (body shell and final assembly), Hennigsdorf (final assembly and commissioning), Mannheim (electronics) and Siegen (bogies).
Grego Peters, Bombardier Transportation’s President of the Light Rail Vehicles Business Unit, commented: "The current call-off of 99 vehicles by the BVG is a further milestone in our long and successful collaboration with the operator. We're delighted that the pilot series operation of the FLEXITY Berlin tram has received such a positive response from the operator and its passengers, demonstrating that our advanced vehicle concept has made a good impression."
All Tatra vehicles that are not barrier-free will be successively replaced by the new FLEXITY Berlin generation of trams. 237 Tatra vehicles are still currently in service. These were modernised between 1994 and 1997 to be used for a further 16 years. However, it was not possible to make the vehicles fully accessible within the modernisation framework. The Tatra vehicles will reach the end of their permitted operation at the start of 2010. The Tatra trams will no longer be suitable for use without further, costly renovations.
The Tatra vehicles will be replaced by the 99 FLEXITY Berlin vehicles now ordered as well as an order planned by the BVG for 2010 comprising a further 33 anticipated vehicles. The structure type of this second order is still to be determined and depends on Berlin's urban transport plan. Operating together with the current type GT6 low-floor vehicles, the new trams will result in reduced operating costs for the BVG. They will also significantly increase the attractiveness for passengers and will establish a complete absence of barriers in Berlin's tram network in the medium-term.
The concept of the FLEXITY Berlin tram was developed together by BVG and Bombardier Transportation especially for the German capital. The result is a means of public transport in cities that are geared to the future, with step-less entrances and easier accessibility for passengers with limited mobility. The interior is characterised by its generous passenger space, as well as multifunction compartments and air conditioned passenger areas. The noise levels are lower than that of the trams used up until now. The vehicles have low electricity consumption and feed back electricity into the braking system.
Generally, two Tatra vehicles can be replaced by one new tram in up to four different versions of the FLEXITY Berlin.
The four different designs are:
Total no. of places Seated places
40 m one-way vehicle 248 84
40 m bidirectional vehicle 245 72
30.8 m one-way vehicle 189 60
30.8 m bidirectional vehicle 184 52
The order for long bidirectional vehicles, which have not yet been included in the 99 vehicles, depends on decisions to be made by the state of Berlin regarding the development of the track network for the tram. A tram type conversion detailed in this order is still possible within certain time limits.
The first passenger surveys regarding the new vehicle type of the Berlin tram have revealed very positive responses overall. The following were singled out as particularly positive:
Significantly better passenger information, in particular in the passenger compartments, which are equipped with TFT dual monitors that can be viewed from every seat. In comparison to the existing vehicles, the space on offer is considerably better for standing and seated passengers. The new vehicles are 20 cm wider than the Tatra vehicles and 10 cm wider than the existing low-floor vehicles.
Two multifunctional areas each for wheelchair users, passengers with prams, luggage and bicycles.
Stops without platforms do not have any barriers either thanks to a patented mechanical folding ramp at every other door in the direction of travel.
Passenger compartment and cab air conditioning.
Impressive exterior and interior design.The design is inspired by the Bauhaus style and gives the trains an appearance unique to Berlin, which is combined with the BVG’s corporate design. The design is the result of an intensive, interdisciplinary work process between the BVG, Bombardier and the design studio commissioned by Bombardier, IFS from Adlershof, Berlin. The design is fit for its purpose, namely functional and timelessly elegant, matching the design characteristics of the BVG vehicle fleet.
However, feedback with suggested improvements from passengers, especially the associations for passengers with disabilities, included for example, the arrangement of fixtures for holding onto, seating arrangements in bidirectional vehicles and parking positions for wheelchair users. These comments have all been taken into account as part of the call-off for the production vehicles.