GERMANY: The Abellio GmbH German subsidiary of Dutch state passenger train operator NS has reached an agreement to acquire the stakes in Westfalenbahn which are currently held by municipal partners moBiel, Mindener Kreisbahnen and Verkehrsbetriebe Extertal.

The transaction announced on July 18 is subject to regulatory approval, and terms were not disclosed.

Abellio said the regional passenger market is ‘becoming ever more competitive’, while the municipal partners are focused on local services. ‘It is becoming harder and harder to win tenders for new or existing routes’, said moBiel Managing Director Martin Uekmann. ‘moBiel, Mindener Kreisbahnen and Verkehrsbetriebe Extertal believe that Abellio is better able to withstand this pressure than we as municipal partners are. Abellio has been concentrating on the public transport market for quite a number of years now and is therefore best suited to keep WestfalenBahn future-proof. We plan to continue to concentrate on our core business.’

WestfalenBahn was founded in 2005 with four municipal shareholders each holding a 25% stake. These included Abellio, which was owned by Essener Versorgungs- & Verkehrsgesellschaft until 2008 when it sold the business to NS which then adopted the Abellio brand for its international activities. Abellio GmbH now operates 18 routes in Germany totalling 1 168 km and carrying around 80 000 passengers/day.

‘By acquiring all of the shares, Abellio will continue its growth trajectory’, said Abellio GmbH CEO Stephan Krenz. ‘Abellio Deutschland has taken another significant step towards becoming the number one railway among its competitors in Germany. We also hope to continue to win tenders with WestfalenBahn. I am very grateful to the former shareholder for the fair way in which the negotiations were conducted.’