Transport for West Midlands have confirmed that they have signed a contract with CAF to supply an additional 21 Urbos trams for the West Midlands Metro, with the option for a further 29 trams dependent on progress on expanding the system. The £83.5 million deal was signed after a tendering process with Alstom, Bombardier and Skoda also being considered.
The 21 trams are said to be third generation Urbos trams – the current fleet also comes from the Urbos family of vehicles – and the first is due to enter service in 2021, just in time for the opening of the second phase of the Birmingham Westside extension to Edgbaston.
The deal with CAF will not only see the supplying of an initial 21 trams (in the end up to 50 trams could be supplied) but also technical support and battery management services over 30 years. The trams will be supplied as new with batteries (all current Urbos3 trams are being retro fitted with batteries as part of a rolling project as extensively detailed on these pages) and the battery management service agreement provides long term maintenance, repair, overhaul and renewal of the batteries powering the trams for the 30 year design life of the trams.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “These new trams are a real game-changer for our expanding West Midlands 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.”
Richard Garner, CAF UK Director, said: “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.”
These new 21 trams will double the size of the current fleet to 42 and if the full add-on is completed there will be 71 Urbos trams operating across the West Midlands making it the second largest tram fleet in the UK.
Whilst not mentioned in the press release it is expected that these new trams will be built at CAF’s plant in Spain, as per the initial Urbos3s already in operation on the network.