DB Regio awarded Stadler a contract to supply 44 Flirt battery-powered multiple units (BEMU) which will operate the south-west German Palatinate network.
The two-car trains are expected to enter passenger service successively from December 2025 when timetable changes are introduced. They will operate two rail routes connecting Kaiserslautern and Karlsruhe (RE 6/RB 51) and Saarbrücken – Pirmasens (RB 68).
Starting December 2026, the trains will replace the diesel vehicles on other six routes (Palatinate network, lot 1): RE 64/RB 64, RB 66, RB 67, RB 54, RE 55/RB 55 and RB 77.
The trains are entirely electric and are particularly suitable for networks like the future Palatinate network 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 80 km. Stadler has already demonstrated 185 km 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 48 km.
The 55-metre-long battery-powered multiple units 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 ultra-modern trains, 172 of them on seats, of which 16 are in first class and 153 in second class.
The use of Stadler’s climate-friendly drive technology was prompted by a contract granted to DB Regio within the framework of the European award procedure for the Palatinate networks (2 lots) on 26 November 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.
On behalf of the commissioning authorities responsible for Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Baden-Württemberg, Stadler and DB Regio will introduce an upcoming technology to the Palatinate through the new battery-electric multiple units.
“We are already the most climate-friendly mobility company in Germany. Rail travel is active climate protection. And by 2040, we at Deutsche Bahn want to be climate neutral. Alternative drives and fuels are an essential part of achieving this goal,” Maik Dreser, the Chairman of the Regional Management of DB Regio Mitte said.