New Omneo trains for Transdev’s Marseille-Nice line
Alstom, Transdev, and the Sud Region in France unveiled the first Alstom-built Omneo train on November 23 in Crespin. These trains will operate the railway connection of the first regional line opened to competition between Marseille, Toulon, and Nice. The new inter-metropolis Marseille-Toulon-Nice link will commence service on June 29, 2025.
On 30 November 2021, the Southern Region awarded Transdev the contract to operate trains on the Marseille-Toulon-Nice line from summer 2025. This route alone represents 10 per cent of the region’s rail services. The Region’s decision is of historic importance, being the first tender for regional trains to be awarded to a competitor of the incumbent operator SNCF since passenger rail transport was opened up to the competition.
The public service concession contract stipulates that Transdev, on behalf of the Region, will acquire the rolling stock needed to operate the inter-metropolitan services, as well as build a maintenance centre for its upkeep, located near Nice station. From the end of November, this trainset will undergo a series of dynamic overspeed tests on the Velim ring in the Czech Republic over a period of four months. After returning to Crespin to finalise the static tests and complete the interior fittings, it will then be deployed in the Southern Region for pre-operation.
Transdev chose Alstom to provide 16 two-level Omneo trains, each consisting of 8 cars, offering high capacity and elevated standards of comfort and service on board. This approximately 250 million euro contract also includes maintenance support for a duration of 10 years. The delivery of this new equipment, manufactured at the Alstom site in Crespin (North), will begin in late 2024.
The Omneo trains for the Marseille-Toulon-Nice line are designed to meet Transdev’s operational needs, including the creation of a convivial space with a dining area (including a snack area), interior layout offering all the services desired by the Sud Region, such as bike spaces (12 per train), and an interior design reflecting the region’s identity. Additionally, new onboard services will be implemented, including innovative systems for video surveillance, seat reservation, bike space reservation, passenger counting, and onboard WIFI.
These new 8-car trains, with a length of 110 meters, will offer 352 seated places and 49 fold-down seats for short journeys (a total of 401 seats). This high capacity is achieved through the alternation of single and double-level cars. Furthermore, their modularity allows for the operation of one or two coupled trains depending on expected demand. These new trains will be compatible with ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) signalling deployed on this route from 2028 on. They will also be compliant with the new infrastructure developed as part of the LNPCA project (Ligne Nouvelle Provence Côte d’Azur), aimed at reconfiguring the network and increasing train offerings for the region.
At the request of the Sud Region, benefiting from this configuration, Transdev will increase the transport offering by doubling the number of round-trip connections to 15 per day, with extended hourly frequencies. The objective is to improve the quality of service, reliability, regularity, and punctuality (97.5 per cent of trains on time). This line is also firmly committed to ecological transition, with train traction powered by 100 per cent green energy of French origin, thanks to the purchase of green certificates from the electricity supplier. Additionally, drivers will be trained in eco-friendly rail driving.
“I am very pleased to be here in the North of France today to unveil the new Omneo SUD trainsets. These trains will enter service in June 2025 on the Marseille-Toulon-Nice line, a line that we entrusted to Transdev after a competitive bidding process. On this route, the train offering will be doubled, thus encouraging the shift of travel practices from road to rail, in line with the goals of our Climate Plan ‘une COP d’Avance’. Thus, we are making every effort to improve the daily lives of passengers on regional trains,” said Renaud Muselier, President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region and Delegate President of Regions de France.