French train-builder Alstom is re-entering the UK market with a new EMU platform aimed at the interurban and inter-city market.
Originally developed to support FirstGroup’s bid for the Greater Anglia franchise (won by Abellio with new Stadler trains), the ‘New EMU for the UK’ concept is designed to be very flexible with a modular design consisting of between four and 11 cars.
The train was unveiled at the Railtex trade show on May 9 with an eye on the forthcoming East Midlands and West Coast Partnership franchise competitions.
The car bodies will be constructed from welded extruded aluminium shells and use inside frame bogies to save weight, as seen on the Siemens ‘Desiro City’ Class 700/707 EMUs and Bombardier Class 220/222 DEMUs. Maximum speeds can be specified at 90, 100, 125 or even 140mph (225km/h) by the customer. Alstom is using a five-car unit as its reference train, with capacity for up to 500 passengers, and two sets of double-leaf doors per car. Features will include ‘smart lighting’ to show passengers where space is available on the train before they board.
The new platform will be a pure EMU – Alstom has no plans to develop a bi-mode option and instead is focusing on developing hydrogen fuel-cell technology, which is now being tested on the iLINT two-car multiple unit in Germany.
Alstom confirmed that a UK manufacturing base could be used to build the trains if future orders justified the investment. The company’s new technology centre in Widnes, being built initially for the Class 390 Virgin ‘Pendolino’ mid-life overhaul programme, has scope for expansion if necessary.
Despite being an active participant in the late-1990s and early-2000s, Alstom has been largely absent from the UK train market for the last decade, with the most recent deliveries being 106 additional ‘Pendolino’ vehicles for Virgin West Coast in 2010.
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