CAF wins tender to supply additional trams for Birmingham

CAF has been selected to supply 21 catenary-free trams – with an option for a further 29 – for Birmingham by West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the organisation that manages transport and economic development in the region.

The first Urbos units are scheduled for delivery in late 2021.

In addition, the contract includes technical support services and the supply of spares for a 30-year term.

The total contract value is in excess of €90 million.

CAF supplied the current fleet of 21 Urbos trams for Birmingham in 2012. In 2018 these units were subsequently fitted with the award-winning Greentech On-board Energy Storage Solution with Ion-Lithium batteries enabling catenary-free running.

The new Urbos units will be equipped with a similar On-board Energy Storage Solution which eliminates the need for potentially disruptive and expensive installation of overhead electrification equipment and helps protect architecturally sensitive areas around the city centre. The solution also provides substantial improvements in energy efficiency.

The new trams will join the existing Urbos fleet on the Midland Metro line linking Birmingham and Wolverhampton and the extension to Centenary Square, an important cultural and business hub in the city.

The Centenary Square extension is scheduled to open in early 2020 and will become the first commercial tram line in the UK designed for catenary-free running.

The Urbos tram is an articulated bidirectional unit with two cabs, giving passengers easy access with its low floor, it is designed for a maximum speed of 70 km/h with the capability to run on catenary-free sections when using the battery On-board Energy Storage System (OESS).

Richard Garner, CAF’s UK Director, comments: “CAF is delighted to have been selected to provide additional state-of-the-art Urbos trams for this ground-breaking UK metro line.

“The CAF Urbos tram will be the first example of battery technology being used in a high-intensity passenger service here in the UK. The Urbos modern, spacious design will provide passengers with a quiet, smooth and comfortable travel experience.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “These new trams are a real game-changer for our expanding Midland Metro network, and I am delighted we have put pen to paper with CAF.

“These next-generation trams are battery powered, designed to operate on new sections of the line between Grand Central and Hagley Road, which are free of overhead cables.

“Our existing fleet of CAF trams already provide excellent service for thousands of travellers a day on the current Metro line, and these are also being modified with the installation of on-board batteries.”

This WMCA tram project will create substantial improvements to the transport system in Birmingham and surrounding communities and shore up the urban regeneration plans for the city centre.

This contract for WMCA further cements CAF’s position in the UK rail market. CAF is [delighted/pleased] with its significant success in the UK, including completion of several contracts for operators; Arriva UK, First Group, Serco Group Plc, West Midlands Trains Ltd, KeolisAmey and Transport for London, totalling an overall volume of circa €2.5 billion.