\r\nAlbtal Transport Company (AVG) and Karlsruhe Transport Authority (VBK), Saarbahn, Kassel Transport Company (KVG), Erms-Neckar-Bahn, Regionaltangente West (Frankfurt-am-Main), and Austria\u2019s Schiene Ober\u00f6sterreich will join forces to procure the next generation of tram-trains.\r\nAVG says the formation of the VDV TramTrain project group will ensure the future viability of the Karlsruhe model and could even open it up to new operators.\r\nThe group will be led by Mr Thorsten Erlenk\u00f6tter of AVG with the support of the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV). Work will begin on the development of a specification for the new vehicles within the next few weeks.\r\nThe project partners hope to issue a joint tender in autumn 2018, which would enable the delivery of the first vehicle by autumn 2021. The tram-trains would then go through the approval process for operation on light rail and heavy rail infrastructure, with up to four pre-series vehicles undergoing trials in participating cities. The delivery of series vehicles is expected to begin in 2024.\r\nIf there is no fundamental change in the operators\u2019 contracts, up to 300 vehicles could be ordered. AVG and VBK will be the largest customers, with a combined requirement for around 180 vehicles for the network around Karlsruhe.\r\nThe project partners have been working towards the launch of the project since 2009, and anticipate that joint procurement could deliver savings amounting to more than \u20ac100m.\r\nAVG says several other cities which may adopt the Karlsruhe model in future have expressed an interest in participating in VDV TramTrain.\r\nModular\r\nErlenk\u00f6tter envisages a modular vehicle capable of accommodating variation in platform heights and axleloads. \u201cYou can look at it like buying a car,\u201d he says. \u201cWe are ordering a model that will be available in two or four-door versions with different colours and special accessories.\u201dThe vehicle will be developed with a standardised carbody, traction system, and safety concept, enabling all vehicles to operate using a single safety case.\r\nStandardisation is also expected to generate further benefits after delivery. \u201cYou can get spare parts together, consult jointly with experts, create a vehicle reserve and strengthen your negotiating position with manufacturers,\u201d Erlenk\u00f6tter says.\r\nAVG says the VDV has already approached suppliers, which have given \u201can extremely positive response\u201d to the concept.