This site is for all enthusiasts of Swiss Railways,
those in the Manchester and north-west England area.
How to spot a FLIRT
FLIRT: A modern concept for regional trainsText based on an article in Eisenbahn Amateur, 2/2009.
All photographs by Mark Barber.
Notification of any errors or inaccuracies welcome.
521 006 at Liestal, 20 February 2008.
The BeginningAfter the great success of the Stadler 'Gelenktriebwagen' (GTW) in the national and international market, it became apparent that a great demand for a longer train containing similar elements was present. Both comfort and number of seats could be increased significantly. Added to this was that the GTW's Maximum speed of 140 km/ h was too low for many routes.
The ObjectivesThe new unit train so should achieve the following objectives:
The ConceptThe implementation of the studies led to this train. The requirements have been adjusted to reflect the current needs, and designed so that the FLIRT (Flinker Leichter Innovativer Regional-Triebzug = Fast Light Innovative Regional Multiple Unit) is now available in the following variants:
The first commission for a Stadler FLIRT came in 2002 from the SBB, for an S-Bahn train. The design and construction were a great challenge. Thanks to the efforts of all concerned, the first vehicle left the Bussnang factory in June 2004, and operation on the Swiss S-Bahn network began in December 2004.
Ticino and Lombady (TILO) dual-voltage unit unit 524 001 at Bellinzona.
The Execution: Coach BodyThe vehicle bodies are produced in Aluminium large-profile construction. These are standard profiles, supplemented by special sections used, which are connected by welding to the box. This creates a more robust, stiffer and more durable box, which is characterized by corrosion resistance, and less damage in minor accidents.
Today's vehicle fronts are of composite construction, as was successfully used for the SBB Re 460 locos. The new European rules on collision strength require a new design, which is already under construction at Stadler GTW for delivery to the Netherlands. The first FLIRT with the new front-end design for the SBB are for use on the routes of the SNCF in Alsace.
The DB FLIRTs have different running numbers for each coach in the set: above is 427 001, and below, 427 501, a DB Mecklenburg-Vorpommen 'Baltic Coast' set seen at Stralsund in March 2008. The centre cars were class 827. (These units were renumbered to Class 429 in 2009.)
The interior's design is largely adapted to let the customer needs, which may perhaps even change during operation. For example:
FLIRT for the STA railway in the 'Adige': In summer, the crowds of cyclists are very large, so existing winter compartments can be converted in the summer to cycle space.
NSB (Norway): A part of the fleet is designed for use on S-Bahn services. The rest, which are used on intercity traffic on the Oslo - Bergen and Oslo - Trondheim lines, have fewer doors and a custom interior.
Vehicles are equipped to the wishes of the customer, so that for example, the seating, the number of doors, the toilet equipment, the multipurpose area, or the passenger information system, are adjusted in response to the operational requirement. Common to all FLIRTs is the generous entrance platform, the flat transition from car to car, and a high fire resistance. Key comfort points are air-conditioned compartment with large windows that make travelling in FLIRT pleasant.
The cab meets the requirements of a modern, comfortable workplace for the driver. The driving position is always placed centrally, and is adapted to the specific requirements of each railway.
Above: Hungarian Railways MAV Start 5341 012 arriving at Hegyeshalom (Hungary/Austria) border station on 15 August 2009 with a service to Vienna. At the time these units had been banned from working into Austria so passengers had to change at this station.
Traction EquipmentA major design aim was that of optional multi-system electrical equipment for one possible widespread use in Europe. This goal has been completely achieved without limitation. Today, according to the common standard, each power car is driven through IGBT power converters. The whole drive is made by ABB Switzerland.
Of course, the FLIRTs are equipped with regenerative brakes, supplemented as needed with brake resistors. The efficient dynamic brakes can be used as the service brake, so that the pneumatic brakes need only in emergencies.
The equipment used in the FLIRT is very efficient with an output of 1,300 kW per drive unit and gives the FLIRT a high acceleration and and ability to avoid delays. Moreover, it is very network-friendly, which offers an advantage especially for lines with lightly laid track.
Each power car has:
The traction motors are of the externally-ventilated asynchronous induction 'squirrel-cage' type. They are bought in a stock items with the gearing, assembled into one unit. They are manufactured by TSA (formerly BBC / ABB - Elin) in Wiener Neudorf, Austria.
The power bogies (picture above) at each end of the train, are two-axle, air suspension bogies with welded H-frame. The traction motors with gearboxes are folly sprung on the bogie, so minimising track damage because the masses are decoupled. The torque is transmitted by cardan shafts to the wheels. The mechanical brakes operate on the wheel discs of all wheels. A number of the brake units are fitted with springs to act as parking brakes.
The unpowered bogies, each of which carries the ends of two adjacent coaches, supported on air springs, are the type known as 'Jacobs bogie', which give lowest access to the passenger area, and a wide, flat, passage between cars. They are also fitted with wheel disc brakes. (Picture above)
The bogies are for designed a maximum speed of 160 km/h. For the future - for example, in Norway - 200 km/h will be required, and development is in progress. On a test drive at that speed has already been successfully achieved.
Both the bogies as well as the trailer bogies were developed by Stadler and are manufactured by Stadler in the former SLM workshops in Winterthur.
FleetsBy late 2008, FLIRTs have been built for the following networks:
The FLIRT is being built in the following works:
The futureStadler is working on the development of all its products, including the FLIRT. Planned next steps:
From FLIRT (Alsace) to FLIRT (France)Among the current developments of the FLIRT is a version for the international operation between Switzerland and France. The original idea of using a 15/25 kV dual-frequency option, combined with mechanical parts similar to the SBB FLIRT class 523, was brought into question by discussions with the French authorities.
After extensive 'clarifications', SBB and Stadler were compelled to re-think. The new rules require, among other things, meeting crash standard EN15227, and other conditions in the field of brakes, couplings, pantograph and recorder. Because of these conditions, the SBB and Stadler have agreed to develop a 'FLIRT France' - unit numbers 522 201 - 214. This will satisfy the French standards, which differ greatly from the others in respect of details applying in Europe.
RABe 522 001 - 012, the already ordered dual-FLIRT, will be "helvetised" (converted to Swiss normal standards) and assume their duties as RABe 523 032-043, which had ordered in 2007 for the SBB S-Bahn services in canton Luzern and the Freiamt [south-eastern Aargau.] Two completed units, RABe 522 001-002, are being used temporarily for test running in France.
Through the use of 523 032 - 043 in central Switzerland, for this network originally ordered 523 013 - 024 FLIRTs be free for other tasks. They will in future be used along with seven other trains in the S-Bahn network RER Vaudois.
The bottom LineThe FLIRT is the most successful train in the corporate history of Stadler so far. From 2004 to 2008 514 vehicles had been sold. However, this success story would not have been possible without the GTW. The FLIRT builds on the concept and thus the success of the GTW.
Page by Charlie Hulme January 2010