[DE] Generation IK: new metros for Berlin enter service; now 60 units on order? [updated]

Berlin is changing, and it is changing fast. Since 2015, public transport authority BVG is testing a new generation of metro trains for its ‘small profile’ lines (U1-U4). This has resulted in an order for another 38 4-car sets from Stadler Rail. And there is need for more new metros. Plus a second problem has emerged; On the large profiles lines (U5-U9) the BVG has to cancel services continuously and shorten consists as it is facing a rolling stock shortage. Especially the metros of the F generation suffer from various defects reducing the reserve fleet to zero. A new tender is being made, but first units will not arrive before 2021. What to do?

First things first, we are talking about the type Ik trains that are bing built by Stadler Rail in Pankow. The 4-car trains are 51.640 mm long and have a top speed of 70 km/u. One unit has 72 seats and around 250 standing places. The design is based on Stadler Rail’s Tango platform. BVG asked the Berlin residents to come with a nickname for these metros and finally ‘Icke’ was selected.

For the long term, BVG is tendering for new metros for both small and large profile lines. This plan was approved in November 2016. For around 3 billion euro, BVG is searching for a manufacturer for 704 large profile cars (type J) and 346 small profile cars (type JK). A first order would include 264/182 cars. But first deliveries are not expected to start before 2021.

Urgent issue 1: more metros needed for small profile lines
On 25.10.2017, the board of BVG approved an order for 20 extra type IK metros. The order is a so-called „Dringlichkeitsbeschaffung“, for which no tender is needed. By doing this new units can be delivered faster, as a tender process take years to complete. The BVG will have to prove it is in urgent need of new rolling stock so that it does not need to comply to EU law. Anyway, this raises to number of type Ik metros to 60 4-car units:

  • 2015: IK15 – two prototype metros commissioned, unit no. 1025 and 1025 for the ‘Kleinprofilnetz’ (U1-U4)
  • 2015: IK17 – 11 type IK metros ordered using the city’s ‘Sondervermögen Infrastruktur der Wachsenden Stadt’ or Siwa funding, no. 1027-1037
  • 06.07.2016: IK18 – BVG signs a contract for the delivery of another 27 type IK metros, delivery from 2018
  • 25.10.2017: BVG’s board approves ordering another 20 units, no tender process, delivery starting in 2019

Urgent issue 2: not enough metros for large profile lines
Currently there is 3-station line connecting Berlin’s main station with the Brandenburger Tor. On the U55 line museum trams have returned to revenue service to make newer trains available to other large profile lines. Next to that the BVG has decided to adjust the 11 type IK17 sets for service on the lines U5-U9. But the IK are too small so adjustments have been made to the entrance areas and the pantographs. All modifications are reversible making it possible to redeploy the designated 1027-1037 to the U1-U4 in the future.

As of 27.10.2017, the IK17 units have entered service on line U5. That looks like this:

BVG presented the IK17s ‘extra Breit’ on 04.07.2017 at U-Bahnhof Biesdorf-Süd. One can clearly distinguish the external 175 mm wide steps (on both sides) to bridge the extra wide gap between train and platform. The triangular shapes on top of the steps keep the feature free of any litter or other objects.

This week the IKs will gradually take over more service on the U5, starting with services after 5pm between Hönow and Frankfurter Allee.

Update 27.11.2017: The Berliner Morgenpost reports: Siemens has filed a formal complaint. The competitor of Stadler Rail says the BVG can not order another twenty metro units without an European tender procedure. The BVG’s board approved this so called “Dringlichkeitsbeschaffung“ (emergency order) but Siemens states that the rolling stock shortage the BVG is currently facing, is the result of the operator’s own fleet strategy, and not caused by an external factor for which the BVG is not accountable. BVG is stating that several of its F79 series Ubahn trains are beyond repair, which is direct reason for quickly and directly ordering extra Stadler Rail metro trains.