GERMANY: Plans to merge local transport operators Hohenzollerische Landesbahn and Südwestdeutsche Verkehrs with effect from January 1 2018 were approved on July 24 by the Sigmaringen and Zollernalbkreis district authorities which hold 14% stakes in HzL. Approval had already been granted by the Land of Baden-Württemberg which owns 100% of SWEG and 72% of HzL.

The merger is intended to create a regional transport company with the strength and scale needed to bid for public transport operating contracts, said Land Transport Minister Winfried Hermann.

SWEG has more than 80 rail vehicles, 350 buses and 800 employees, and carries 61 million passengers/year. HzL has 300 staff, 60 rail vehicles and 50 buses, and carries 14 million passengers/year.

The two companies are to operate as a consortium until the merger is completed. SWEG will be overall group brand, with the SWEG and HzL names used locally. The legally required separation of rail infrastructure and operations will be retained, and the group’s bus and rail activities will be restructured as new subsidiaries. Maintenance may be restructured around centres of competence for different activities.