Saft, the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of high-tech industrial batteries, has been awarded a major contract by Bombardier to supply the onboard battery systems for 61 FLEXITY trams under construction for Basel, Switzerland’s third most populous city. The Saft MSX nickel-based battery systems will provide emergency onboard backup power capable of driving the tram for short periods when the external power supply from the catenary is interrupted.
The contract for the new Basel tram fleet is a very significant development for Saft in Europe’s light rail sector which is currently growing at around 15 percent year on year.
Bombardier has developed the FLEXITY tram design to set new standards in urban mobility with a combination of 100 percent low-floor technology for ease of passenger access and conventional wheel-set bogies that ensure a perfectly smooth ride and low-noise operation. In 2012, Bombardier Transportation signed a contract for the delivery of up to 61 FLEXITY trams with the City of Basel’s Transport Authority (BVB). At €184 million, it is the biggest order placed by the BVB in its 116-year history. The new trams are being manufactured in Bautzen, Germany and in Vienna, Austria and will eventually replace the 101 Basel trams currently in service.
Each FLEXITY tram is being fitted with two 24 V Saft MSX battery systems sized to provide emergency short-term backup power for the traction systems. They will ensure that if the main overhead catenary supply is interrupted the vehicle will be able to continue to travel on to a section where power is available. The onboard batteries will also enable the tram to be driven for short distances in areas where there is no catenary, such as in the depot.
Hans Rudolf Feuz, Vice President Sales Light Rail Vehicles, Bombardier Transportation said: “The Basel tram network, with its high frequency operation and large daily ridership is a particularly demanding tram network and the onboard battery systems play a critical role in ensuring the total continuity of passenger services. The Saft MSX batteries offer a compact, lightweight and powerful design that fits perfectly with our FLEXITY concept that emphasises energy efficiency, economy and ecology.”
The Saft battery systems for the Basel metro trains each comprise “19 MSX200” batteries. MSX is a specialised rail battery that delivers high power performance combined with high cycling capability over a very wide temperature range of – 30˚C to + 50˚C. MSX provides a compact lightweight package that enables train operators to optimise the size of their onboard battery system.
In 2013, Saft delivered 4 battery systems for the first two Basel FLEXITY trams that are now in test operation. Delivery of battery systems for the remaining 59 trams started in 2015 and will be completed in 2017.