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Why aren't the FLIRTs more nationally widespread?

Joseph T

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Considering how they have proper level boarding plus their well designed interiors, how come they aren't catching on with other TOCs? Is it anything that can be easily fixed with some modifications and/or a yet-to-exist example or something more fundamental regarding infrastructure and/or the core train structure?
 
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Bletchleyite

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They are extremely expensive, I believe. They also have the downside that because kit is above the floor that would be under it in a high floor unit they make poorer use of platform length - in effect they are LHCS in that sense when you take into account the "thrash pod" and the large area behind the cab that contains electrical kit.
 

CarrotPie

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Considering how they have proper level boarding plus their well designed interiors, how come they aren't catching on with other TOCs? Is it anything that can be easily fixed with some modifications and/or a yet-to-exist example or something more fundamental regarding infrastructure and/or the core train structure?
It's curious, because FLIRTs have caught on exceptionally well in Europe - and the rest of the world, for that matter. I wonder if they could come up with a more European-style FLIRT without the "thrash/gubbins pod" that would still suit the British infrastructure. Having said all of that, perhaps it is the FLIRT MkII that introduces these issues, as opposed to the more-widespread MkI version.
 

Joseph T

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I wonder if they could come up with a more European-style FLIRT without the "thrash/gubbins pod" that would still suit the British infrastructure.
I assume the imbalance in weight between the power car and the rest of the train can wear down bridges and/or track?

How can the train also remain as quiet and less vibratey without the engines stored in the power car?
 

Sorcerer

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I think the primary reason is simply because they are expensive compared to Hitachi or CAF stock. My understanding is that Stadler Rail is only really awarded contracts that are unlikely to see repeat custom such as with Merseyrail or the Tyne and Wear Metro. A bit of a shame to be honest because Stadler FLIRTS are some of the nicer looking stock I've seen on the network, and their level boarding and subtle Swiss style really has set a new standard for rolling stock in the UK, and I'd love to see a SMILE (high speed FLIRT-based unit) scaled down to UK loading gauge.
 

mike57

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They are extremely expensive, I believe. They also have the downside that because kit is above the floor that would be under it in a high floor unit they make poorer use of platform length - in effect they are LHCS in that sense when you take into account the "thrash pod" and the large area behind the cab that contains electrical kit.
Cost wise, do you get what you pay for, a better train? With the current arrangements everything seems to be based on the cheapest/not quite adequate to save money, so you end up with poor quality interiors in a lot of cases.

Is maintenance easier having one power pod, with everything above floor level?

Certainly from a passenger point of view not having underfloor engines is a plus.
 

Energy

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Stadler's thing is smaller batches of well-designed trains. They can't handle the gigantic orders of Aventras and Desiro Cities. I'd expect them to get a few more orders in the UK, I can see them getting some work at Scotrail and GWR. Northern maybe but it may be pushing the number of trains Stadler can reasonably deliver.

They also have fewer motored axles so have worse regenerative braking performance than Aventras. On their orders so far this hasn't been a massive priority, but it puts them down on 25kv commuter services.

They are extremely expensive, I believe
I think the primary reason is simply because they are expensive compared to Hitachi or CAF stock
Yes and no, for the Tyne and Wear Metro Stadler put forward the best price...
 

ac6000cw

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It's curious, because FLIRTs have caught on exceptionally well in Europe - and the rest of the world, for that matter. I wonder if they could come up with a more European-style FLIRT without the "thrash/gubbins pod" that would still suit the British infrastructure. Having said all of that, perhaps it is the FLIRT MkII that introduces these issues, as opposed to the more-widespread MkI version.
The power pod is only included in the multi-mode versions - the OHLE-only versions like the 745s don't have it, as the electric traction equipment is situated behind the cabs (and the two pseudo/dummy cabs in the middle of a 745, which are basically two single-cab 6-car units coupled back-to-back).

One problem is that UK-size trains have a lower maximum roof height than mainland Europe size trains, so it's much harder to move equipment from under the floor into the roof space if you are designing a low-floor/level boarding train for the UK.
 

RailWonderer

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Stadler's thing is smaller batches of well-designed trains. They can't handle the gigantic orders of Aventras and Desiro Cities. I'd expect them to get a few more orders in the UK, I can see them getting some work at Scotrail and GWR. Northern maybe but it may be pushing the number of trains Stadler can reasonably deliver.

They also have fewer motored axles so have worse regenerative braking performance than Aventras. On their orders so far this hasn't been a massive priority, but it puts them down on 25kv commuter services.



Yes and no, for the Tyne and Wear Metro Stadler put forward the best price...
I think Finland would disagree, they ordered 81 Sm5 FLIRTS for their commuter routes, albeit over an 8 year delivery period. I get your point though, UK railways run a denser network with a higher frequency than anything in Finland so orders will be larger and operations more intensive.
 
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CarrotPie

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Cost wise, do you get what you pay for, a better train? With the current arrangements everything seems to be based on the cheapest/not quite adequate to save money, so you end up with poor quality interiors in a lot of cases.
You most certainly do, but cheaper in the short term is cheaper in the long term too, right? :lol:
I think Finland would disagree, they ordered 81 Sm5 FLIRTS for their commuter routes, albeit over an 8 year delivery period. I get your point though, UK railrays run a denser network with a higher frequency than anything in Finland so orders will be larger and operations more intensive.
And we're getting another 25 next year too! They're excellent trains, low-floor except over the bogies, and really quiet unless your near the end of the unit (where the motors are). I don't get why British FLIRTs can't be just as good.
The power pod is only included in the multi-mode versions - the OHLE-only versions like the 745s don't have it, as the electric traction equipment is situated behind the cabs (and the two pseudo/dummy cabs in the middle of a 745, which are basically two single-cab 6-car units coupled back-to-back).
In this case, I'm treating the 745 thing as a sort of "gubbins pod", because it's full of gubbins
Stadler's thing is smaller batches of well-designed trains. They can't handle the gigantic orders of Aventras and Desiro Cities. I'd expect them to get a few more orders in the UK, I can see them getting some work at Scotrail and GWR. Northern maybe but it may be pushing the number of trains Stadler can reasonably deliver.
That's odd, because they've built 2500+ FLIRTs and they've recently won a contract to build 504 tram-trains for Germany and Austria...
They also have fewer motored axles so have worse regenerative braking performance than Aventras. On their orders so far this hasn't been a massive priority, but it puts them down on 25kv commuter services.
They may have lower regenerative braking performance (especially on European MkI FLIRTs, where only the bogies under the cabs are motored), but they can (if you order them as such) accelerate exceptionally quickly on various voltages - in fact, that's why a lot of places order them!
 

43096

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It's curious, because FLIRTs have caught on exceptionally well in Europe - and the rest of the world, for that matter. I wonder if they could come up with a more European-style FLIRT without the "thrash/gubbins pod" that would still suit the British infrastructure. Having said all of that, perhaps it is the FLIRT MkII that introduces these issues, as opposed to the more-widespread MkI version.
The power pack/thrash pod is present on mainland Europe FLIRTs that have diesel engines, such as those built for Slovenia recently, and they all have the end electrical equipment over front and rear bogies, too, so it isn't just a UK thing. A UK EMU FLIRT would be the same - the Anglia 745s are effectively two single-cabbed units coupled back-to-back.
Stadler's thing is smaller batches of well-designed trains. They can't handle the gigantic orders of Aventras and Desiro Cities. I'd expect them to get a few more orders in the UK, I can see them getting some work at Scotrail and GWR. Northern maybe but it may be pushing the number of trains Stadler can reasonably deliver.
Stadler are good for small orders, but increasingly have done some much larger orders. They aren't just the niche player that they once were.
 

Bald Rick

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Leaving aside the recent order by LNER for a small number of long distance services, there havent been any trains ordered for a long while. So nothing available to catch on!
 

Energy

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That's odd, because they've built 2500+ FLIRTs and they've recently won a contract to build 504 tram-trains for Germany and Austria...
504 tram-train vehicles. The class 701 order had 750 Aventra vehicles, the 720 order had 665 vehicles...

2500 FLIRTs is since 2004 and worldwide.

The FLIRTs are good trains and I'd like to see more of them but Stadler is not a high-volume manufacturer.
They may have lower regenerative braking performance (especially on European MkI FLIRTs, where only the bogies under the cabs are motored), but they can (if you order them as such) accelerate exceptionally quickly on various voltages - in fact, that's why a lot of places order them!
AFAIK they all only have motors under the cabs, with 600KW motors to give good acceleration. Its a good design and allows the train to be fairly simple but it limits regen.
I think Finland would disagree, they ordered 81 Sm5 FLIRTS for their commuter routes, albeit over an 8 year delivery period.
10 a year isn't a lot...

I like the FLIRTs, they are good trains and I can see other manufacturers borrowing the pod concept (I wish they used it on the 800s...). But they have their place on regional routes.
 

CarrotPie

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10 a year isn't a lot...
They were ordered in multiple batches. 34 were ordered in 2014, with the first being delivered in 2016 and all being in service by summer 2017 (~25-30/year). Stadler also has lots of different production lines going on in umpteen factories, so they're producing 1,000+ vehicles a year for various builds. Bear in mind that the FLIRT family is technically very similar too.
AFAIK they all only have motors under the cabs, with 600KW motors to give good acceleration. Its a good design and allows the train to be fairly simple but it limits regen.
Yes; while having them only under the cabs allows the rest of the trains to be low(er)-floor (more important for European markets), it does require space for beefy motors - hence the middle "gubbins pods" on the 745s, the only FLIRTs to have motors in the middle of the train.
2500 FLIRTs is since 2004 and worldwide.
I would clarify that that's to 10/2021 and equates to around 10,000 vehicles.
 

Energy

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They were ordered in multiple batches. 34 were ordered in 2014, with the first being delivered in 2016 and all being in service by summer 2017 (~25-30/year).
That's still not a lot when the units are 75m long.

Stadler makes good units, I think they could win GWR and some of Scotrail's tenders but they aren't mass manufacturing on the same level as Alstom or Siemens.
Yes; while having them only under the cabs allows the rest of the trains to be low(er)-floor (more important for European markets), it does require space for beefy motors - hence the middle "gubbins pods" on the 745s, the only FLIRTs to have motors in the middle of the train.
The motors are mounted to the bogeys, the in-train section is traction electronics due to limited space to put them elsewhere.
I would clarify that that's to 10/2021 and equates to around 10,000 vehicles.
Correct, it's still admirable.
 

Envoy

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I like the level boarding/ride but the seats on the TfW ones are not a good shape and too hard. Apart form those above the bogey, the seats are set too low.
 

stuu

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The FLIRTs are good trains and I'd like to see more of them but Stadler is not a high-volume manufacturer.
True a while ago, but not really now. The SBB Girunos are over 300 vehicles; OBB has 300+ double deck vehicles on order, RENFE have nearly 400 of the same
 

CarrotPie

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True a while ago, but not really now. The SBB Girunos are over 300 vehicles; OBB has 300+ double deck vehicles on order, RENFE have nearly 400 of the same
Indeed. They used to have one or two of those mediun orders a year, now they have several and they're constantly expanding their product and geographical range.

Stadler are good for small orders, but increasingly have done some much larger orders. They aren't just the niche player that they once were.
That's how they started and that's how they continue in the metro and light rail markets: small, niche, tailor-made orders. They've expanded into heavy rail by coming up with a platform (FLIRT) and expanding it out into similar variants (and the KISS).
 

Bob Price

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When you consider the 231's are a fleet of 11 trains only then you understand the expense. They are really good trains, but the FLIRT is a continental loading guage unit and the UK ones are one off short batches to their loading guage.
 

Bletchleyite

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When you consider the 231's are a fleet of 11 trains only then you understand the expense. They are really good trains, but the FLIRT is a continental loading guage unit and the UK ones are one off short batches to their loading guage.

The FLIRT is a modular concept in part designed for Swiss narrow gauge lines, which coincidentally have a very UK like loading gauge. The idea of it is to be able to do short runs to bespoke specs provided they can be done with the components they have.

The METRO is the same - the Merseyrail units are to a wider loading gauge than the others.
 

Meerkat

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Stadler don’t have an assembly plant in the UK.
Any hint of them getting a sizeable order at the moment will have competitors briefing the press and holding a gun to the head of their UK assembly plant. Politically awkward to say the least - remember Thameslink….
A convenient scenario would be that they could take over the factory they were ‘killing’ , but I just don’t see that lining up commercially.
Who actually owns the assembly plants - manufacturers or landlords?
 

Trainbike46

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Considering how they have proper level boarding plus their well designed interiors, how come they aren't catching on with other TOCs? Is it anything that can be easily fixed with some modifications and/or a yet-to-exist example or something more fundamental regarding infrastructure and/or the core train structure?
A few key reasons I think:
- The first UK FLIRT design isn't that old (the design was new for GA), so not that much chance for them to be adopted by other operators since introduction
- No UK manufacture, so more chance of backlash in the type of "selling out British industry", though I suspect the effect is rather limited
- Until recently, UK operators did not value level boarding in general - though this appears to be changing, with signs that new orders will require it
- Stadler is not historically a budget manufacturer, so their costs tend to be higher

It's curious, because FLIRTs have caught on exceptionally well in Europe - and the rest of the world, for that matter. I wonder if they could come up with a more European-style FLIRT without the "thrash/gubbins pod" that would still suit the British infrastructure. Having said all of that, perhaps it is the FLIRT MkII that introduces these issues, as opposed to the more-widespread MkI version.


One of the key reasons for their popularity is that Stadler is usually able to deliver much quicker than other manufacturers in Europe
For example, in the Netherlands in this happened in the 2010s:

In 2014, the NS placed an order for CAF civity regional/local (sprinter) trains
In 2015, NS placed an emergency order for stadler FLIRTs due to unexpected growth in demand
In 2016, the first FLIRT entered service, with all in service in 2017
In 2018, the first CAF unit entered service
In 2023, the final CAF unit entered service

It is worth noting there are a lot more CAF units than Flirts though, as there's 206 of the former and only 58 of the latter!

That's odd, because they've built 2500+ FLIRTs and they've recently won a contract to build 504 tram-trains for Germany and Austria...
Though stadler is undeniably very good at small, custom orders, which is probably why they won the glasgow subway contract for example
 

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