BULGARIA: Metropolitan Public Transport (EAD) has awarded Škoda Group a €65m contract to supply eight four-car trains for operation on lines 1,2 and 4 of the Sofia metro. The new trains are based on the same design as the fleet Škoda is delivering to Warsaw apart from the addition of air-conditioning. Manufacturing of the new trains will take place at Škoda’s plants in Ostrava and Pilsen and the fleet is scheduled to enter service in 2026.

An artist's impression of the new metro train for Sofia.

Lithuania: LTG Cargo has confirmed plans to invest €100m to purchase electric locomotives. The new locomotives will be deployed on services on the 376km line from the capital Vilnius west to Lithuania’s main port at Klaipėda, which is being electrified at 25kV 50Hz ac. LTG Cargo says it will determine the number of locomotives it will order following negotiations with potential suppliers. The first units could enter service in 2027 and LTG Cargo will have the option to order additional units under the terms of the framework contract.

Germany: Alpha Trains has awarded Siemens a 15-year contract to maintain its fleet of more than 80 Vectron locomotives. Work will be carried out as required at Siemens Mobility facilities in the 13 countries in which the locomotives operate. Overhauls will also take place at the Siemens Rail Service Centre in Munich-Allach. “The cloud-based Railigent X applications, which are part of the open, digital Siemens Xcelerator business platform, will enable us to maintain the locomotives efficiently and ensure their maximum service availability,” says Mr Johannes Emmelheinz, CEO of customer services at Siemens Mobility.

TPE's class 802 fleet has accumulated more than 12 million km in service.

Britain: TransPennine Express (TPE) and rolling stock leasing company Angel Trains have awarded Hitachi Rail an eight-year contract worth £240m to continue to maintain 19 class 802 inter-city trains. The contract will support 550 jobs at depots across the north of England and Scotland.

Germany: Testing of Talgo’s ICE L for German Rail (DB) has commenced in Germany ahead of the train’s entry into service between Berlin and Amsterdam at the end of 2024. This is the first of 79 trains that the Spanish supplier is manufacturing for DB under a framework contract for 100.

Static tests are taking place at the “Zughotel” facility in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, with dynamic tests at up to 160km/h set to follow at the Żmigród test track in Poland. Further line testing will take place in Germany at up to 230km/h following by certification tests where the trains will operate at up to 253km/h. A second ICE L train has arrived in Vienna for aerodynamic and climatic testing at the Rail Tec Arsenal facility.

The 17-car ICE L set travelled more than 2000km by rail from Spain to Germany.

Australia: Alstom has subcontracted Škoda Group to supply an initial 400 traction motors for the fleet of 100 Flexity LRVs which the French manufacturer is building for Melbourne’s Yarra Trams network at its Dandenong facility under a $A 1.02bn ($US 689.6m) contract awarded in April 2022. The contract with Škoda includes an option for an additional 720 traction motors, which will take the total value of the order to €13m. The traction motors will be based on Škoda’s FCX range, with each motor having an output of 105kW and weighing 360kg, and driving the xle via a two-speed gearbox.

Germany: East German Railway (Odeg) has withdrawn eight new Lint54 DMUs built by Alstom just eight weeks after the trains entered service. Odeg reports experiencing “repeated significant quality defects” since the beginning of the service period and describes the trains as being no longer suitable for passenger or drivers.

The operator says there have been repeated and unforeseen failures on RB33 (Potsdam main station - Beelitz Stadt - Jüterbog), RB37 (Berlin-Wannsee - Beelitz Stad) and RB51 (Brandenburg main station - Rathenow) services. Odeg has reintroduced Stadler GTW DMUs, which previously operated on RB33 and RB51, in order to maintain passenger service.

“From Odeg's point of view, compliance with guarantees for the new Lint54 under Alstom's guarantee was inadequate and unsatisfactory,” says Mr Lars Gehrke, Odeg managing director. “The safety, comfort and satisfaction of our passengers are our top priority, which is why we decided to take this drastic step.”

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