On 18.12.2015, the Belgian Railways (NMBS/SNCB) signed a framework agreement with a Bombardier and Alstom consortium for the delivery of up to 1,362 double deck coach of the designated type ‘M7’. The total volume of the order can amount up to a staggering 3.3 billion euro.
Initially, Bombardier/Alstom will built 445 coaches to be delivered in 2018-2021. Bombardier’s factory in Bruges (BE) will assemble 65 driving trailers and deliver 290 intermediate coaches. This new order will ensure the survival of this plant for the next few years.
Alstom will build ninety motorized end cars in Valenciennes (FR). In addition, Alstom will supply ETCS level 2 for the entire M7 fleet. Alstom’s site Charleroi (BE) will be involved too.
The M7s will thus be used as EMUs as well as loco-hauled stock in push/pull formation. Non-motorizes rakes of M7 coaches can be combined with NMBS/SNCB’s M6 stock, also built Alstom and Bombardier.
In comparison to the M6, the interior of M7s first and second class will be completely redesigned and validated by more than 200 representatives from different user groups. The driving trailers will feature the multifunctional space for carrying bicycles and accessible to wheelchair users.
With the M7, NMBS/SNCB will add 145,000 seats to its fleet. The maximum speed will be 200 km/h. M7 will be deployed on all Belgian main lines, on cross-border services to the Netherlands and Luxembourg, as well as on some high-speed lines.