Flirt train of Stadler of VR Group at Helsinki main station

Stadler to deliver 20 new FLIRT trains for Finnish VR Group

New Flirt train of Stadler for VR Group at Helsinki main station (visualisation) VR Group

Finland’s national railway operator VR Group has signed a contract with Stadler for the delivery of 20 single-decker FLIRT trains with a value of 250 million euros. The electric multiple units will be used for regional services from the spring of 2026 onwards.

The contract includes the supply of spare parts and maintenance, as well as an option for 50 more trains from Stadler. The additional ordering options allow VR to meet the growing demand for regional train services. In August 2022, M train services were increased in the Tampere region thanks to an additional transport order financed by the City of Tampere and neighbouring municipalities, and according to VR, the conditions are in place for this to also happen elsewhere.

The new FLIRT trains will be used in regional transport, for example around the capital Helsinki and in the Tampere region. The vehicles can also be used as intercity trains if required. The trains will be introduced for lines D, R, T, Z and M, which currently use Sm4 rolling stock that was put into service between 1999 and 2005. Most of the Sm4 trains will be transferred to other routes to replace VR’s older Sm2 commuter rolling stock. Recently, VR also put some of the old trains on auction, which a new operator called Suomen Lähijunat Oy (Finland Commuter trains) plans to refurbish and use for operations.

“New routes can be opened in areas where it is either profitable by ticket-sales or where the state and municipalities want to acquire environmentally friendly commuter traffic. It is possible to expand the commuter traffic to areas such as Turku and Oulu as well as the area between Helsinki and Hanko once the electrification of the railway section is completed”, says Elisa Markula, the CEO of VR Group.

Snow-ploughs included

81 vehicles of the FLIRT model, which stands for Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train, are already in service in Finland, and the trains are specifically adapted for the Nordic climate. Equipment includes large snow ploughs, efficient air-conditioning technology featuring underfloor heating, as well as special heat insulation and well-sealed traction compartments to protect the drive technology.

Therefore, the trains are a popular choice in Nordic countries in particular, such as Sweden, Norway and Estonia, says Stadler, because of their “excellent suitability for severe winter conditions”. According to VR Group, the new commuter trains are 50 percent more energy-efficient than VR’s existing commuter rolling stock. This is achieved by the lightweight aluminium construction combined with the latest converter technology, states the Swiss manufacturer.

Finnish design and Swiss engineering

The interior of the trains is modular so that it can easily be reconfigured or replaced during the lifetime of the trains. For example, the number of bike spaces can be increased in the summer months. Stadler has worked with a local agency to design the trains reflecting the Finnish style. The new trains have seats with tables to make it easier than before to work on a laptop, charging stations at every seat and wireless internet.

“We have defined the features we want the new fleet to have by listening to our customers’ wishes and having our employees participate in the process. These trains enable us to improve the customer and employee experience and energy efficiency”, says VR’s CEO Elisa Markula.

Stadler won the tendering process in terms of both quality and price, according to VR Group. The operator states that it has good experiences with Stadler’s FLIRT Sm5 electric multiple unit trains when operating in the capital region’s HSL commuter traffic, where the trains were put into service in 2009. The trains will be assembled at a Stadler factory in Poland and some of the components will be manufactured in Switzerland.

View the interior of the trains in the gallery below. Image credits: VR Group

Author: Esther Geerts

Former Editor

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