Article by Harvey Glickenstein
The prototype of the new battery-operated FLIRT completed its demonstration trip from the Stadler grounds in Berlin’s Pankow borough to Schildow, Germany, in Brandenburg state without an external power supply. The FLIRT Akku is a full-fledged FLIRT that combines proven components with an innovative drive concept.
While the traction equipment and the most important mechanical components have been largely retained, the entire power train was rebuilt and equipped with a battery drive. The FLIRT Akku was developed in house at Stadler and received €2 million in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.
Designed for use on nonelectrified or partly electrified routes, the presented prototype has a current range of 50 mi at a driving speed of up to 125 mi/h in pure battery mode. According to Stadler, 80% of the nonelectrified routes in Germany can be operated with this vehicle. It is possible to charge the batteries during operations under the overhead line and also at passenger stations where overhead lines are installed. In addition, the batteries can also be charged with energy generated during braking.
The FLIRT Akku reaches a top speed of 90 mi/h and is ideally suited for operation on routes currently powered by diesel vehicles. The noise emissions of the vehicle are considerably lower than those of comparable diesel-operated engines. The three-section prototype has space for 310 passengers, with seats for 154 of them.
The demonstrated prototype is approved for passenger traffic in Germany and will be entering revenue service on various routes starting in 2019. Stadler sees market opportunities for the FLIRT Akku in Germany, Austria, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Italy, and other countries with a significant number of nonelectrified routes.