The first brand new trains of the much anticipated South Wales Metro have just been delivered to Cardiff.
Two intercity and regional trains have just arrived from Switzerland at the Transport for Wales (TfW) depot in Canton and were unveiled on Thursday 2 December. They should undergo extensive testing to ensure that they are ready for use by customers from the next year or so.
The delivery of trains is the final stage in the development of the South Wales Underground.
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The metro, due for completion in 2023, will be an integrated public transport network – comprising heavy and light trains, trams and new buses, as well as several new stations – designed to make it easier for people to travel, with more capacity. and faster, more frequent and greener services.
TfW has invested £ 800million in the new trains, which will include improved features such as air conditioning and automated boarding.
The two trains, which made their first trip to the capital a fortnight ago, are Class 231 Intercity and Regional Light Fast Trains (FLIRTs) built by Swiss rail manufacturer Stadler.
The Canton depot will accommodate the new trains, which will be tested on the Wales and Borders network in a process known as “testing and commissioning” before the first new units are put into service for customers next year.
This step will see the train tested under realistic driving conditions, on the tracks on which it will run, to verify that it meets the safety standards and regulations in force.
Every aspect of the trains, from their on-board characteristics to energy consumption testing, noise levels and signaling, will be scrutinized.
The new trains are expected to be longer and quieter than the current fleet, with minimal noise and vibration.
New and improved features passengers can expect to include ergonomic seats, air conditioning, power outlets and large passenger information displays with up-to-the-minute trip information.
Trains also have more space for bicycles (up to six in each train) as well as for people with reduced mobility and strollers. There will also be an automated level boarding where the boarding step automatically adjusts to provide a seamless transition between train and platform.
FLIRTs will be a key part of the South Wales Underground and they are the first of the 35 to be delivered over the next two years from Stadler.
Eleven of the total will run on diesel and the remaining 24 will be tri-mode, capable of running on diesel, overhead power cables and battery power.
The FLIRT Class 756 trimodes will operate service on the Rhymney, Coryton and Vale of Glamorgan routes, while the FLIRT Class 231 diesel will operate between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and Cheltenham.
The train manufacturer manufactures a total of 71 trains for TfW. The remaining 36 are three-car trams that will run from Cardiff to Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil – bring street trains back to the capital for the first time in 70 years.
The South Wales Underground is slated for completion in 2023, but bosses admit the end date could be pushed back a few months due to supply chain issues and the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this year, TfW chief executive James Price insisted that any hold-ups would only be “marginal.”
As part of the Metro, in addition to the new TfW trains and trams, it is also:
- Electrify around 170 km of track
- Upgrade of all stations and signage
- Build at least two new stations
TfW said the South Wales Underground would offer faster and more frequent services, with some valley lines scheduled to run four services per hour.
In September, life-size models of the trainsets and tram-trains were unveiled for the first time.
James Price, CEO of Transport for Wales, said: “The arrival of these brand new trains is another important milestone for TfW and represents another step forward in our transformation program to provide a transport network that people live in. of Wales can be proud of. “
Sandro Muster, Project Manager for Stadler, said: “Passengers will notice a huge difference in ride quality, comfort and attention to detail. We will now embark on an extensive testing program to make sure they are ready for commercial service. “
What do you think of the new trains? Let us know in the comments below.