ON JUNE 23 German Railway and Netherlands Railways announced the merger of their freight businesses to form Rail Cargo Europe (RG 4.98 p207). A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by DB Cargo General Manager Eberhard Sinnecker and Director of NS Cargo Ed Smulders pending approval of the merger by competition authorities. The two parties expect Rail Cargo Europe to be operational in mid-1999; its headquarters will be in Mainz and Smulders will become a board director.

DB Cargo and NS Cargo will become RCE subsidiaries responsible for operations; in due course crews will work through without having to stop at the frontier. Sales and marketing will be handled directly by RCE, into which the existing commercial departments of the two companies will be combined. There will be an overall reduction in the number of staff employed.

For the moment DB and NS are the only shareholders, but DB Chairman Dr Johannes Ludewig said he wanted RCE to work with other partners to build up international rail freight traffic. Among projects likely to benefit is the long-planned Betuwe line from Rotterdam to the Ruhr, which will speed freight flows between the North Sea port and industries in Germany.

Dr Sinnecker confirmed on July 10 that DB Cargo would be buying a further 400 electric locos at a cost of DM2bn. An option in the 1995 order for 80 Class 145s from Adtranz, of which 10 have so far entered service, the extra locos will be built as dual-system ’Europa-Loks’ designated Class 185. Due for delivery in 1999-2000, the bulk will be equipped for 15 and 25 kV AC operation, but 50 will be multi-system units with 1·5 kV DC capability. They will be fitted with GPS satellite location, GSM-R radio and ETCS compatible controls for cross-border operation. DB Cargo is also to invest DM220m in 1570 new wagons for delivery by the end of next year. Options for a further 200 are included, and another 700 will be modernised. o

CAPTION: German Railway and Swiss Federal Railways began through running trials at the end of June with the regular 3200 tonne china clay trains between Limburg and Domodossola, which are split into two portions to cross the Alps. A threesome of DB Cargo Class 152s went south on June 23, and on July 9-10 an SBB Class 460 and a BLS Class 465 made the trip north