Rolling stock renewal boom: cities are refreshing their fleets

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Building a new metro line is sexy. Renewing an existing metro fleet? Not so much. Politicians are often reluctant to be seen devoting valuable public funds to replacing overburdened rail vehicles, but some cities, like Berlin, have been running the same metro carriages since the early seventies.

UITP’s Metro Subcommittee has been discussing the fleet renewal projects currently underway in a number of major cities, including London, Hong Kong and Paris. According to Laurent Dauby, UITP’s rail expert, apart from the growing awareness among politicians of the need to replace ageing rolling stock, passenger numbers are up, and those passengers increasingly expect a certain minimum level of comfort – comfort that you can’t find in carriages that are nearly 50 years old. “Streets are congested, people are getting more environmentally aware, so ridership figures are increasing. This puts extra pressure on the system and eventually, it needs re-investment and renewal.”

Here’s a round-up of some of the latest fleet renewal projects:

Hamburg: A tender for the procurement of the new generation (DT6) trains will be launched in October 2016, with first deliveries expected around 2019. The additional trains are needed to serve the line U4 extension, but also to serve the growing passenger numbers in the city. They are also part of Hamburg’s longer-term ambition to host the Olympic games in 2024 or 2028. The trains will be 40m 4-car trainsets to be flexibly operated as single or double traction.

Berlin: The first 2 narrow profile (4-car) metro trains ordered in 2012 from Stadler are under commission. 11 more will be delivered after 2017 and another 24 are in option. They will replace old generation A3L71 trains that have operated since the early seventies. This is the first time Stadler will deliver metro rolling stock.

In addition, BVG has been carrying out refurbishment of 130 cars of series F74 und F76 since 2010; the programme is due to end in 2018. The refurbishment programme for 70 cars of series F79 was cancelled due too high corrosion level of structural parts.

MTR is busy with its largest train procurement programme ever in order to face the network expansion and to replace ageing assets. 

Hong Kong: MTR is busy with its largest train procurement programme ever in order to face the network expansion and to replace ageing assets. The programme envisions 163 trains (1327 cars) to serve metro, commuter railways and high speed services. Except for 30 cars produced by a joint venture between Alstom and CNR, all trains are produced by Chinese and Korean manufacturers. Deliveries are expected between 2016 and 2023.

MTR chose to run new purchase instead of refurbishment programme due to falling rolling stock price driven by very competitive Asian players. Nevertheless, a project is underway to convert 8 x 12 car trains and 16 x 4 car trains into 20 x 8-car trains: a masterpiece in in- house engineering!

London: In the overground fleet, 57 trains are being upgraded from 4 cars to 5 cars and 2 additional 5 Car trains have also been ordered to increase the total size of the fleet to 59 x 5 Car trains to meet capacity demands predicted by 2021. 5 additional trains will be required to run the Northern line extension. Bakerloo line trains are undergoing some reinforcement engineering activities to be extended till 2025-27. Expressions of interest are being sought for the supply of up to 18 new trains to increase the capacity of the Jubilee Line by 13% and to give a 34tph service by 2021. Finally, and above all, London Underground has started work on the next generation of Tube trains. The project is called New Tube for London: about 250 air-cooled, high capacity, walkthrough, deep level tube trains capable of fully automatic operation are needed for the Piccadilly, Central, Bakerloo and Waterloo & City Lines. An OJEU notice has been issued seeking expressions of interest to build the new trains.  Issue of the formal invitation to tender is expected during 2015.

All rolling stock acquisition contracts also generate secondary complex industrial projects of stabling yards and workshop adaptation.

Lyon: SYTRA is also engaged in a rolling stock renewal programme for the next 15 years to modernise and increase its capacity. The programme, called “Avenir Metro”, foresees  lower headway to strengthen capacity and the mixed use of existing and new fleet called MPLNG (Matériel Pneus Lyon Nouvelle Génération). The process will span over 10 years till 2025.

Marseille: On the occasion of the RTM fleet renewal, it was decided to upgrade the system to full UTO operation. 38 trains will be procured (+ 60 in option) between 2020 and 2023.

Paris: An additional order for 14 MP05 trainsets was issued in 2012 (total order 67 MP05s). Between November 2014 and May 2015, 7 MP05 trainsets were put into service on line 14. A contract for MP14 generation was signed in March 2015 for 35 8-car trains to be used as GoA 4 and GoA 2 operationon lines 14, 4 and L11. V

Vienna: Wiener Linien launched a call for tender for 45 new U5 trains in June 2015. The line will be turned into full UTP driverless operation. The tender includes delvey of trains as well as service and maintenance. The selection of supplier should take place at the end of 2016 and delivery is expected to span between 2018-2029.

All rolling stock acquisition contracts also generate secondary complex industrial projects of stabling yards and workshop adaptation.

  • Contact: laurent.dauby(at)

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