Lessor Alpha Trains reveals more about its involvement in NEB battery-train project

2 min read

European rolling stock lessor Alpha Trains has become one of the first train leasing companies in Europe to offer battery-powered trains. The company, based in Luxembourg, has added 31 battery-electric Siemens Mireo Plus B multiple units to its existing fleet in a move it said, “sends out a strong signal for sustainability”.

Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn (NEB) will lease the vehicles, which are financed by the Alpha Trains Group, and intends to operate them on 10 lines in East Brandenburg between Berlin and the Polish border. Operations are planned to begin at the end of 2024, which means Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg (VBB) will be deploying battery-hybrid multiple units on its routes for the first time.

Apart from the KfW IPEX-Bank and Nord/LB, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is also involved in financing the multiple units and the project fully meets its sustainability targets. The project is also being supported by the European Commission via the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for transportation projects, which is also supplemented by funds from the European NER300 program.

The Mireo Plus B units draw the electricity needed to charge their lithium-ion batteries from the overhead lines along the electrified sections of track as well as from recovered braking energy. On routes where the external power supply ceases, the vehicles utilize the energy from their charged batteries, which provide a range of more than 90 km.

Additional charging stations will be built along the routes to fully secure operations going forward. The power drawn from the electrified lines and the charging stations will be generated entirely from renewable sources and the trains will run on a carbon-neutral basis. The new multiple units are expected to save more than four million liters of diesel fuel per year, thus reducing local carbon emissions by more than 11,000 tons and making an important contribution to minimizing particulate matter emissions.

NEB was already awarded the transport contract put out to tender by Verkehrsverbund Berlin Brandenburg (VBB) in June 2021, following a Europe-wide tendering process. In addition to the competitive leasing concept and the eco-friendly drive technology, the new battery-powered vehicles also provide extra space as well as greater comfort and convenience for passengers.

The additional seating and increased frequency make them particularly attractive for commuters. Based on a commitment to continued use provided by the public transport authorities, these innovative vehicles will enhance the quality of transport on the East Brandenburg network until the end of 2048.

Shaun Mills, CEO of the Alpha Trains Group said, “Alpha Trains offers solutions that are both sustainable and affordable. The battery-electric trains for NEB are the best example: competitive leasing offers, and eco-friendly propulsion systems are key factors in driving the transition to green mobility forward.”

Alpha Trains owns more than 900 locomotives and passenger trains and offers tailor-made leasing solutions, comprehensive know-how in maintenance and vehicle repairs as well as long-term experience in the financing of new build projects. Alpha Trains' fleets are in use by many public and private operators in 19 European countries.