On February 17, Norske tog AS, the company responsible for procuring, owning, and managing the rolling stock for passenger train transport in Norway, signed a contract with Stadler to procure the next generation of long-distance trains for their country. The contract is for 17 long-distance trains, but it includes options for up to 100 new trains to be acquired.
The new train class, FLIRT NEX, offers modern amenities, increased capacity and more flexibility to change the layout for day and night service. During the night there will be reclining seats, 2-bed and 4-bed sleeping compartments. During the day these compartments can be used as private seating groups for families and business travelers. The trains will have a top speed of about 125 mph and will consist of 8 carriages with a total capacity of 542 seated passengers.
They have set out an ambitious timeline, with production expected to start next year, the first new train-sets to begin testing in 2025, and revenue service on the Bergen line to commence in 2026.
There has been a resurgence of night trains in Europe over the past few years, with OBB’s Nightjet service leading the way. OBB has become the largest sleeper train operator in Europe and their Nightjet service is operating in the black. We believe that investing in America’s long-distance trains would produce similar results.
Fortunately, the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included a requirement for the Federal Railroad Administration to conduct a study evaluating the restoration of daily long-distance train service and the potential for new long-distance routes. The Amtrak Daily Long-Distance Service Study will ultimately create a long-term vision for long-distance passenger rail service and identify capital projects and funding needed to implement that vision.
The FRA has begun engaging with stakeholders around the country and have made materials from working group meetings available to the public here.
It’s exciting to see this study move forward, as we believe long-distance trains can be the foundation for improving and expanding our entire national rail network.