The new Fast Light Intercity and Regional Trains (FLIRTs) are currently being tested in Europe, as part of the transformation for the Wales and Borders network.
The locomotives are being built by leading train manufacturer Stadler and are currently being tested in Switzerland. The trains will eventually be transferred to South Wales for further tests on the Wales and Borders network and will start to enter service from the end of next year.
FLIRT’s play a crucial role in TfW’s transformational plans, and 35 trains are expected to run within the South Wales Metro network.
The Class 756 tri-mode FLIRTs will operate services on the Rhymney, Coryton and Vale of Glamorgan Lines. The Class 231 diesel FLIRTs will operate services between Cardiff and Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and Cheltenham.
James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said, “from day one at TfW our main goal has been to transform transport and improve the customer experience. These brand-new trains with better facilities all round will provide a modern service for the people of Wales.”
Customers will benefit from improved facilities such as power sockets, information screens and air conditioning throughout. The trains will also be more regular, have greater capacity and there will be space for up to six bikes on each train, and level-boarding to help those facing mobility challenges.
The CEO continued, “we’ve already started testing on some of our new trains within Wales and I’m pleased our Stadler FLIRTs are now being tested in Europe and will then be sent to us for testing on our network."
“Our teams are pushing ahead building the South Wales Metro and we’re moving forward with the new trains that will provide a modern turn-up-and-go service that is greener for the environment.”
These trains are the latest in a number of unique fleet developments announced by TfW this year. Last month, TfW set in motion an upgraded rail service between Cardiff and Holyhead with fully refurbished intercity carriages and greater capacity.
Sandro Muster, project manager at Stadler, commented “the FLIRT is Stadler’s best-selling product for passengers. With more than 1,970 of them sold in 21 countries, it is reliable, innovative and suited to a wide range of climates and geographies, including cities and regions alike."
He added, “of the 35 FLIRTs for Transport for Wales, 24 units will be tri-mode, capable of running on diesel, overhead electric wires, as well as battery power, underscoring Stadler’s green credentials and commitment to decarbonisation.”
Additionally, TfW announced the purchase of high-quality Mark 4 carriages for use from next year, on services between South Wales and Manchester. 8 Class 769 trains were also introduced into service earlier this year, and testing on brand-new Class 197 trains being assembled in Newport has also begun.