When timetable changes are introduced in December 2025, the first of the battery-powered multiple units will go into passenger service on eight routes in the Palatinate network, thereby replacing the diesel vehicles currently in use by the end of 2026.
The use of Stadler’s climate-friendly drive technology was prompted by a contract granted to DB Regio AG within the framework of the European award procedure for the Palatinate networks on November 26, 2021, by the relevant commissioning authorities – the Zweckverband Schienenpersonennahverkehr Rheinland-Pfalz Süd, the Saarland Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour, Energy and Transport, and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport.
The two-car vehicles are entirely electric and are particularly suitable for networks where electrified sections alternate with track without overhead contact lines. On the electrified sections, the trains run under a catenary like traditional electric multiple units whilst charging their batteries at the same time. Once the catenary ends, the trains continue to run on battery power.
The operational range in battery mode is at least 80km – Stadler has already demonstrated 185km in battery mode during test journeys. After the completion of partial electrification, the longest section of line without electrification on the Palatinate network will be around 48km.
The 55-metre-long trains also have extra-long cars to increase passenger capacity as much as possible on busy routes. A total of 325 passengers can be accommodated in the modern trains, 172 of them on seats, of which 16 are in first class and 153 in second class.
Maik Dreser, chairman of the regional management of DB Regio said, “We are already the most climate-friendly mobility company in Germany. And by 2040, we at Deutsche Bahn want to be climate neutral. Alternative drives and fuels are an essential part of achieving this goal. We are therefore absolutely delighted that the commissioning authorities responsible for the Palatinate network have opted for environmentally friendly technology and that we will be able to put this technology into operation in the new transport contract. This will enable us to together replace diesel drives with low-emission and energy-efficient trains.”
Jure Mikolčić, CEO Stadler Germany, added, “The use of CO2-emission free rail vehicles on non-electrified lines is a fundamental building block for achieving EU climate targets. We are proud to have been awarded this contract for 44 FLIRT battery-powered vehicles by DB Regio. This is already the second supply contract for battery-powered trains in Germany. I am particularly proud that this order will take us over the magic limit of 2,000 FLIRT vehicles sold. The fact that the 2,000th FLIRT vehicle sold is a train powered by alternative and environmentally-friendly drive technology marks a landmark in climate policy.”