The 1,000th FLIRT train by Stadler Rail will travel in Helsinki’s commuter railway system. The Finnish company Junakalusto Oy has ordered another 34 FLIRT trains, thus exercising the second option of the contract dating back to 2006. The first 32 trains have been operating successfully for years now. Delivery of the first option of nine further FLIRT trains will be concluded on time in November. The trains are especially robust in severe winter conditions such as those experienced in Finland. The order value of the second option amounts altogether to around EUR 200 million, and the delivery will take place between the beginning of 2016 and the spring of 2017. With this order, Stadler Rail will now have sold 1,018 FLIRT trains.
Junakalusto Oy was founded as a rolling-stock company in 2004 by the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen (total of 65%) and VR-Group Ltd (35%).. It buys the rolling stock and arranges its maintenance, and the lessee of the trains, HRT (Helsinki Regional Transport), orders the operation of the trains. With the current order, Junakalusto Oy has opted for a uniform train fleet. For the rail operator this means a lot of advantages, especially when it comes to maintenance costs and staff training. To a large extent the ordered trains are replicas of the previously delivered vehicles. However, the experiences gained in the operation of the first series will lead to certain optimisations. For example, there will be changes to the interior layout and the passenger information system.
High tolerance to severe winter conditions – innovations from Stadler
The FLIRTs ordered in 2006 were the first broad-gauge vehicles manufactured by Stadler as well as the first vehicles especially able to fulfil the requirements of severe winters. Since then, similar trains have also been delivered to Belarus and Estonia. All Stadler trains intended for Moscow and Norway are essentially based on the developments in the resistance to severe winters of the first Helsinki FLIRT train.
Yrjö Judström, Managing Director of Junakalusto Oy, states: “The cooperation with Stadler in developing the train to tolerate the Finnish climate conditions has worked well. The uniform train fleet now allows an excellent starting point for putting the train traffic out for tender from the beginning of year 2018.”
Peter Spuhler, CEO and owner of Stadler Rail Group, is very proud of this specific vehicle order: “It gives me immense pleasure that the 1,000th FLIRT train will travel in Helsinki, because from now on this customer will be operating 75 Stadler trains already. The fact that this option has been exercised is evidence that the customer is very happy with the trains that have been in everyday use for five years now. We are proud of our broad-gauge FLIRT with its excellent resistance to severe winters. This vehicle is a perfect example of how innovative Stadler can be.”
Better insulation and heat recovery
Because of the wide 1,524-millimetre gauge used in Finland, the greater clearance profile and, most importantly, the climatic conditions in Finland that can reach –40 degrees Celsius, the FLIRTs used in Helsinki are slightly different from the normal-gauge FLIRT. In order to improve tolerance to harsh winter conditions, insulation is increased by 50% to 100% and the windows are triple-glazed. A heat recovery system has been added to the tried and tested air-conditioning system used in many FLIRTs. The warm air extracted from the passenger compartment is used to preheat the cold, fresh air that is sucked in. This results in a substantial energy saving. At the same time, heaters have been fitted in the door areas in order to keep the temperature inside as constant as possible when passengers embark and disembark.
The four-carriage trains have 234 seats, a good 80% low-flooring level, an accessible toilet and a multifunctional area for wheelchairs, prams or bicycles. The Finnish carriage width of 3.2 metres (compared to around 2.9 metres in most countries in Europe) easily allows comfortable 3+2 seating. A state-of-the-art information system with 11 flat-screens provides information about the timetable, connecting trains or the weather. Six emergency contact points allow passengers to contact the driver or conductor. The train can achieve speeds of 160 kilometres per hour and will initially be operated using the Finnish EBICAB train control system, although an upgrade to the European Train Control System (ETCS) at a later date is possible.