The agreement was signed in Karlsruhe on March 11 by representatives of Albtal Transport Company (AVG), Karlsruhe Transport Authority (VBK), Saarbahn, Erms-Neckar-Bahn, and Central Saxony Transport Authority (VMS).

The partners have been working together since July 2017 through the VDV TramTrain project, which aims to ensure the future viability of the Karlsruhe model for tram-train systems and potentially open it up to new operators. This has led to the development of a standard vehicle concept, which is expected to reduce procurement costs by around €1m per vehicle.

“This lower unit price results from the fact that one-time costs for the development and authorisation of the standard vehicle can be distributed across a significantly higher number of vehicles,” says project manager Mr Thorsten Erlenkötter. “Variants for the respective transport companies can be derived from the base vehicle. For example, the entry level for barrier-free access varies between the operators’ systems.

“In addition, the project partners all want individual equipment and features in the respective company colours. We want to use a vehicle configurator - similar to the car industry.”

VBK and AVG have a requirement for around 150 vehicles and will therefore jointly manage the procurement on behalf of all project partners.

The first vehicles are expected to enter service in 2025. Final order quantities will depend on the outcome of negotiations for new transport contracts. Saarbahn says it is looking to replace its fleet of 28 Bombardier Flexity Link tram-trains with the new design.

AVG says the project partners expect to benefit from standardisation by issuing joint maintenance orders and ordering large quantities of spare parts to bring down the unit cost of components.

“The project team has done pioneering work here,” says VBK managing director Mr Ascan Egerer. “I am very proud that Karlsruhe, as the inventor of the two system vehicle, together with strong partners from the tram-train family and the Association of German Transport Companies, has been supporting this.”