New long-distance trains for Norway ordered at Stadler
Norske tog has awarded a contract to Swiss manufacturer Stadler for the purchase of 17 long-distance trains, the first of which will go into service on the Bergen line from 2026. The contract is worth around 730 million euros (NOK 8 billion).
The trains of the FLIRT NEX train type will go into production at Stadler in 2024, and will arrive in Norway for testing in 2025. The first trains are planned to go into service on the Bergen line from 2026, where they will replace trains that are nearing the end of their service life.
The long-distance train journey between Bergen on the Norwegian coast and Oslo in the east takes about 6 to 7 hours. Trains also run at night, so the rolling stock includes sleeping compartments, as well as reclining seats. “The new trains will be more flexible in terms of space, comfort and usability”, says Øystein Risan, managing director of Norske tog AS. “There will be a wider sleeping offer with both deckchairs, 2-bed cabins and 4-bed cabins. During the day, the sleeping compartments will be able to be converted into closed sitting areas for both families and business travellers, and the deckchairs will be usable around the clock.”
The new long-distance trains will have a top speed of 200 kilometres per hour. Each train set will consist of eight carriages with a total capacity of up to 542 seats per train. Trains are purchased for both electrified and non-electrified sections. With options, up to 100 new trains can be purchased.
More sleeping places and flexibility
In Norway, Norske Tog AS, owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications, owns and manages the train equipment, which is leased to the train operating companies. A design process is now starting where Norske tog, together with supplier Stadler, will make the final adaptations and adjustments before the trains are put into production. In this phase, the train operators and other stakeholders will also be involved. On the Bergen line, only operator Vy runs trains.
The government’s rationale for ownership of Norske tog is to have a player who can offer vehicles for passenger train traffic on competitively neutral terms. The state’s goal as owner is the cost-effective acquisition and rental of trains. The Norwegian Railway Directorate carried out customer surveys in 2019 in connection with an investigation of the night train offer, which showed that the clearest customer wish was access to more comfortable recliner seats at night, and a greater width of the offer in terms of capacity and price.
In addition to the new trains ordered, a result of the survey was a grant of over 7 million euros (NOK 80 million) from the Storting (the Norwegian Parliament) in 2020 to improve the night train services. Last year, a total of 226 reclining chairs were installed on trains operating the Nordlandsbanen, Dovrebanen, Bergensbanen and Sørlandsbanen. In addition, a further 120 deckchairs are on order.
As the design process with operator Vy is now starting, it is not yet possible to say exactly how many sleeping places there will be in the new long-distance trains. Vy also has its own sleeping carriages which they currently use on Bergensbanen with a total of 288 sleeping places. These will most likely not be able to be used when new long-distance trains are put into service, according to Norske Tog. “Basically, we are talking about an increase from 600 beds in the 20 sleeping carriages owned by Norske tog in 2020 to 900 sleeping places in the new trains. But in principle Norske tog can buy in as many sleepers as the Storting decides”, says managing director Øystein Risan.